Shembati Coffee Washing Station was established in 2017 and serves 4,000 smallholder producers in the area around Butaganzwa commune in Kayanza. Producers deliver their freshly harvested coffee in its cherry form to the washing station, where it is processed using a method that the washing station calls "double fermentation," and which will vary based on the weather as well as the available space.
Depulped coffee is first fermented dry for 12 hours, then it is fermented for 6 or 18 hours underwater before being fully washed. The coffee is then soaked for 12 or 10 hours before being dried. For drying the coffee is first placed on tables under shade for 1–3 days, then on tables under full sun for 12–14 days.
Farmers here own less than half a hectare of land, on average, and in addition to growing coffee, they also grow crops like bananas, beans, yams, taro, and cassava, both for sale and for household use.
Due to the small size and yield on the average coffee farm or plot, washing stations are the primary point of purchase for us in Burundi. Unlike other coffee-growing regions in Central and South America where landholdings are slightly larger and coffee-centric resources are more available, most producers do not have space on their property or the financial means to do their wet- or dry-milling. Instead, the majority of growers deliver cherry to a facility that does sorting, blending, and post-harvest processing of day lots to create different offerings.