The coffee comes to us by way of smallholder producers growing coffee on the northern slopes of Mount Elgon, a massive peak split nearly in two by the border of Uganda and Kenya. The microregion is rife with coffee and is well-served by the Sipi Falls mill, a centralized washing station with the capacity for processing cherry and drying coffee to improve the value to local farmers.
Undermined by historically low prices and the perception as a robusta origin, Uganda instituted a coffee auction in 2018 in an effort to promote high quality and better prices. Uganda is currently Africa’s leading exporter of coffee by volume (Ethiopia produces more, but exports less), and is among the only African nations with consistent annual production volume increases.
Near the Sipi Falls Mill, producers for years had been accustomed to rudimentary home processing techniques. Kawacom, the export company that owns the washing station, has gone to great lengths to prove the added value (and subsequent profit) by contributing their unprocessed cherry to a central mill where washing, fermenting, and drying can be performed consistently with professional oversight. They have also started an example nursery with high quality varieties and provide agronomic support to the local smallholders, many of whom are families led by women.
This particular micro-lot is one of just a small handful of natural coffees produced by the station. Coffees like this, where the fruit is untouched and allowed to sun-dry (called “drugar” in Uganda) retain high amounts of fruit flavor from the increased contact time with the cherry. This lot was floated in water to sort for density and damaged beans prior to drying. The raised beds provide even airflow and the employees of the mill turn the coffee frequently to ensure uniform drying for optimal quality and shelf life.
A sister lot to the Uganda Zombo Natural – pretty similar in character but a bit higher acidity.
Tasting Notes: Crisp, clean and exotic. Medium body with higher acidity, a good rounded cup. Light to medium roasts; The first tones to hit you will be a little bit of lemony citrus that quickly fades into some lovely jammy fruit notes – a little reminiscent of blueberry but has some classic stone fruit in the cup as well. The lighter tones are balanced with a nice and clean chocolaty factor without too much of that classic African herbal note. Aromatics that will make your mouth water. Dark roasts are not really recommended, turn a bit bittersweet and kill the fruit forward aspects of the cup.
Roasting Notes: Keep these beans in the light to medium roast points to see them shine. Real light roasts will be pretty high in acidity, enough to cover up a little of the fruitiness of the cup. Medium roasts are well balanced and what we thought was the best roast point. Dark roasts are not recommended. These beans do have a little higher chaff content.