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Our Coffees: Uganda - Bujuku Valley

Region info: Rwenzori Mountains


Situated at the feet of the Rwenzori mountains just north of Lake George, the region around Kasese has excellent conditions for speciality Arabica production with some of the highest altitude in Uganda, fertile soil and plentiful rainfall. However widespread poverty and a lack of infrastructure, as well as the political upheaval in Uganda over the past 40 years has meant this region has struggled to realise its full potential for speciality arabica production. 


This is changing over time, with a number of specialty producers now engaging with smallholder farmers throughout the Rwenzoris to improve both quality and yield, and ultimately estbalish a more sustainable and equitable coffee sector in the region


Ethiopia Coffee Growing

History of coffee in Uganda


Originally introduced in the early 20th century, Arabica coffee struggled to take hold as disease ravaged the crops early on. The native and undomesticated Robusta, heartier and more resistant to disease, slowly began to dominate the country as smallholder farmers realized its potential through the 1910s and into the 1920s.

Uganda saw its biggest economic coffee boom in the mid-1970s. When a massive frost destroyed a huge Brazillian crop, buyers had a much higher demand for coffee from the rest of the world—and Uganda had the supply to meet it. Coffee became the most valuable export and kept the country’s economy flowing for years after, only faltering when global coffee prices crashed in 1987.


In the years just before the crash, Arabica plants were beginning to be re-introduced to the country on a larger scale, as modern agricultural techniques were able to better protect the delicate plant from harsher environments and stave off diseases. This was also the time when farmers began to realize the ideal climates on the east and west borders of the country, where Arabica could thrive at higher altitudes amongst other crops and under shady trees. Though still not grown nearly on the same scale as Robusta, Arabica production in Uganda has grown steadily for the past 40 years. As its production has improved, so too has its reputation, quality and appeal.


 

We spoke to Kieran, our head roaster, as to why he chose this coffee...


Cultivation


Flavour Profile


"A traditional, bold flavoured coffee. This Ugandan really builds a solid base for any blend we use it in, allowing brighter, sweeter flavoured coffees to flourish without taking any of the balance away. A stalwart in darker roasts"



Cultivation


"The Coffee in Rwenzori is grown all over the slopes of the mountains at the estimation of 1,500 to 2,300 m.a.s.l. Volcanic, in which the soil is rich with nitrogen that creates a terroir that is well-suited to coffee. Also, Uganda produces perfectly a wet-processed Arabica, with effectively all grown from those villagers on a small plot. Coffees that are marketed as ‘Wugar’ (Washed Uganda Arabica) or ‘Drugar’ (Dry Uganda Arabica) are grown on mountains encircling the Democratic Republic of Congo, alongside the border of western Uganda."


Sustainable Farming


"Business should be done for the benefit of all involved. From the farmers in Uganda to the consumers in Ulster and everyone in between. I believe that this coffee, as well as all the others we source, roast and sell has the power to change for good. This farm uses sustainable methods in harvesting and we also partner with 'Play it Green' and 'Eden Reforestation' to help offset the emissions from the travel miles this coffee makes across the seas."

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