Uganda has never really featured on a radar when it comes to finding the best coffees to offer our customers. It has traditionally been known as a producer of robusta and while we’ve been aware of some increases in quality in recent years, its not an origin we’ve chosen to work with.
Much of the issues surrounding quality are associated with infrastructure, history and knowledge rather than the environment. The slopes of Mount Elgon in the country’s east (bordering Kenya) are ideally suited to the production of high quality coffee. Producers are now seeing the potential of this area for producing potentially spectacular coffees, and programmes such as the Kawacom Sipi Falls Sustainable Project are beginning to unlock the area.
By promoting the cultivation of Arabica coffee, training farmers in agricultural techniques and best practices, educating widely regarding the importance of harvest and post harvest activities, and building top-notch washing stations, the project hopes to put Uganda ‘on the map’ as the next big destination for speciality coffee. The Sipi Falls Project was initiated in 1999 in Uganda’s Kapchorwa district – high on the slopes of Mt. Elgon, where coffee grows at altitudes ranging from 1,300 metres climbing up to 1,900 metres. Arabica is the main cash crop here and is normally inter-cropped or grown alongside other crops such a banana and beans.
Kawacom has heavily encouraged renovation activities amongst project participants and has, for the past several years, distributed approximately 200,000 coffee seedlings annually to its partner farmers. These SL 14 & 28 varieties are well-suited to the climate of the region and produce high cup quality. Soil fertility is maintained by regular applications of composted manure and by establishing cover crops. No synthetic fertilisers or pesticides are used. In order to control pest damage, chillies, wood ash (containing potassium), marigold and animal urine are used.
All coffee is selectively hand-picked and is delivered by individual farmers to one of Kawacom’s 9 collection points. These collection points deliver all cherry received at the end of each day to be pulped at the central mill, and lots are defined by sub-regional origin and altitude. Upon arrival at the mill, the coffee is then sorted again to remove any remaining under- or over-ripe beans, and after sorting, the ripe coffee cherries are delivered to the mill’s Pinhalense pulpers. After pulping, mucilage is mechanically removed, the parchment is soaked in tanks for 12 hours and is then either delivered to dry in beds in the sun (very low quantities due to seasonal rains) or dried at low, constant temperatures in mechanical driers that are fuelled by dried coffee husks.
We’re releasing this coffee from Monday 5th June but you can order a bag now via our website www.carvetiicoffee.co.uk