Nemba washing station lies in the northern province of Kayanza. This region is one of Burundi’s coffee regions with the best quality reputation. Kayanza owes this reputation to its high elevations, rich red soils and dedicated producers. Yet, optimal growing conditions alone aren’t enough to produce a high-quality coffee. This is where Nemba coffee washing station and its management come into play.
Nemba washing station is part of a group of washing stations, managed by Greenco. Each washing station is managed and lead by an agronomist. This agronomist oversees the implementation of good agricultural practice and farmer education. He collaborates with the producers to ensure they have access to the necessary farming tools. The agronomist also helps farmers determine and implement the practices best suited to the specific growing conditions of their farming plots.
Nemba washing station uses a monitoring system to ensure traceability all along the production and processing chain. All 3000 producers are smallholders owning an average of 330 coffee trees. The farms delivering cherry to Nemba are all located around 1700m near the Kibila forest. Just like its neighbour country Rwanda, Burundi is planted with Bourbon, producing vibrantly fruity cups. The washing station has over two hundred drying tables and can process up to 750 metric tons of coffee cherry.
Greenco has been working very hard with its washing stations, staff and producers to improve the quality of the coffee produced in Ngozi and Kayanza. The washing stations distribute seedlings for tree renovation, as well as fertilizer and other farming inputs. Each washing station is managed by an agronomist. They organize farming training in farmer groups, teach good agricultural practices on farm demo plots and watch over the coffee processing. Next to that, they have also developed programs for economic development together with sustainability organization Kahawatu.
The Burundian coffee producers who want to deliver at any of the Greenco washing stations, like Nemba, are all familiar with the high quality requirements for cherry quality. At cherry intake, a picking team further sorts the cherries on maturity. This is essential for a fine processing, with less damaged beans. A depulper and mucilage removal machine remove the fruit during pulping. Next, the sticky parchment will dry ferment for 12 hours to break down the mucilage. When fermentation is complete, the parchment goes down the washing and grading channel. The grading channel separates the parchment in 5 quality grades according to the density of the beans. Heavy beans will sink at the start of the channel, while lighter beans float to the end.
Finally, the top quality coffee soaks for an additional 24 hours to remove any remaining mucilage before going to the pre-drying tables. Here, the second team of pickers checks the wet parchment to take out defect beans. After a couple of hours, the staff carries the wet parchment on trays to the drying tables. Depending on the weather conditions, it will reach 12% moisture content in about two weeks.