cherry sorting at Gahahe washing station

Gahahe central washing station

Gahahe washing station is located in Gahahe, Kayanza Commune in Kayanza province. The washing station lies at 1800 meters above sea level. Gahahe has 1771 registered coffee producers, each has an average of 240 trees. The washing station is equipped with 10 fermentation tanks, 4 cherry selection tables, 2 soaking tanks and a drying field with 180 drying tables, and 18 pre-drying tables.

At cherry intake, a picking team sorts the cherries for maturity. Floaters are taken out first by dumping the cherries in large buckets. In natural processing, removing floaters and immature cherries is essential to have a uniform drying rate and coffee quality. From intake and cherry selection, the coffee goes straight to the drying field. The quality team closely checks the volume per table. Cherries are spread out in a thin layer so they can dry evenly. On the raised beds, air can circulate freely around the cherries so that all cherries dry at the same rate. Depending on the weather conditions, the cherries will reach 12% moisture content in three to four weeks.

Sorting for quality

Recently, a lot more focus is being put on how to limit potato taste defect in the cup. Since it is generally accepted that a strong selection drastically reduces the number of affected beans, washing stations all across the country focus on better selection methods. A campaign was launched from the national coffee institute as well to encourage producers to float their cherries in the river before they bring it to the washing station. Greenco put their quality standard high right from when they became operational in 2015. This has motivated producers to select their cherries on maturity and through flotation before they make the journey to the closest washing station. This way, they meet Greenco’s quality standard and they can benefit from their good cherry price which sits above the national minimum.

When we visited Gahahe on year in early July, we could see with our own eyes that the number of floaters in the coffee that producers brought to the station, was impressively low! After the sorting and floating, the producer takes his coffee to the cherry hopper. The cleaned volume is weighed again and noted by the accountant. Next, the cherries are

 dumped into the hopper with the other cherries of the same quality that were delivered that day.

Processing

The cherries are mechanically depulped on a Macnon pulper. For washed coffees, the parchment dry ferments in tanks for 12 hours. Next, the washing station staff pushes the parchment through the washing and grading channel. The heaviest, highest quality parchment will soak in tanks for another 24 hours before drying. A second team of pick

ers checks the parchment on the pre-drying tables to take out more defect beans. After a couple of hours, the parchment is moved to the drying tables. Depending on the weather conditions, it will reach 12% moisture content in about three weeks. The quality team closely checks the volume per table. The parchment is spread out in a thin layer so it can dry evenly. On the raised beds, air can circulate freely around the parchment so the coffee dries at the same rate. Depending on the weather conditions, it will reach 12% moisture content in about three weeks.

The coffee is handpicked once more at the dry mill, after it has been milled. Greenco has a special room at the dry mill for sorting under UV light. This final sorting takes out anything that may have skipped all previous selections, and that the bare eye might have missed. This strong focus on selection and consistency on all steps during post-harvest is one of the reasons why we believe that the washing stations grouped under Greenco produce the best coffees in Burundi. And this year’s Cup of Excellence winners are proof of that belief!

Organization

All producers registered at a Greenco washing station are organized in groups of 30 people, headed by a farm leader. This leader acts as a spokesman to facilitate communication and organization with the washing station.

At the washing station, farmers can obtain organic fertilizer from converted coffee pulp. To promote farm renovation, producers can buy low-cost, subsidized coffee seedlings at the washing station. Each station has its own nursery for this purpose.