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Ugandan Specialty Coffee

Ugandan specialty coffee is in a particularly exciting chapter of its history. In the (not so) distant past, the majority of Ugandas’ production was commercial robusta and the best arabicas were reputedly grown on Mount Elgon, on the eastern side of the country bordering Kenya. The widest-grown arabica varietals are SL 28 and SL24, Typica, and Bugisu.

Today a lot has changed, and we now are able to access some fantastic coffees, via Agri Evolve (the trading name for ) Rwenzori Coffee Company. The purpose of the Rwenzori Coffee Company is to work with small-scale, local Ugandan coffee farmers and improve their coffee and quality of life,  yields and incomes. In previous seasons the quality just hasn’t quite been there, for me.

The Rwenzori mountains (on the west side) of Uganda that border Congo have an incredible altitude of something approaching 5100 meters above sea level.  The Rwenzori’s are called Mountains of the moon, by the locals, as they are always snow-capped. Coffee is grown between 1200 and 2300 Meters above sea level, for reference.

In September this year, there was a landslide in the Kasese valley of the Rwenzori mountains. This is close to where our coffee is coming from. It wiped out the village of Kisaka (well a lot of it) killing 16 people and injuring and displacing over 100. This is horrific. At The Forest Showcase, in the Forest of Dean, we managed to raise £300 through wet sales, as a token.

On a personal note, I have a huge affection for the SL28 varietal. It has featured in so many of the best coffees that I have loved over the years, and it is widely grown throughout Uganda. Having said that, it bears little resemblance to a great-washed Kenya. They are different and that is a great thing!

Winston Churchill famously wrote “For magnificence, for variety of form and colour, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.”