UEB | Uganda Western Region Mt. Elgon
Bold Profile | Medium-dark roast
Tasting Notes: Baking Spices, Almond, Black Tea
IT ALL STARTS AT THE COFFEE FARM
This coffee comes from nine communities on the slopes of Mt. Elgon, and was processed with Mountain Harvest. We are excited to work with Mountain Harvest importers: uniquely, they only work in Uganda, investing in farmers through programs to diversify income (ie. beehives and avocado trees), regenerative agriculture training and financial literacy. These farmers (like Chekwoti Janet, above), are transforming Uganda into a quality coffee destination, and working to ensure a prosperous and sustainable future in coffee.
This coffee is made up of two different lots, both from Mountain Harvest, one from the Northern slopes of Mt. Elgon from a women-run group, and the other from a larger group of farmers from both sides of the mountain. We received the coffees separately, and blended them together before roasting.
WHAT MAKES A BLEND?
When you see the word "blend" out in the world on coffee bags, it is usually being used to describe two or more coffees from different countries that are combined into one. However, it is also very common to blend coffees from the same country or region! There are different reasons why a roaster may choose to do this - sometimes to achieve a certain flavor profile, or just to have enough coffee for their needs. We chose to blend for a mix of both reasons: there wasn't enough of the Sipi Ladies coffee available, so we chose to blend it with what they call their Workhorse lot. While the Sipi Ladies coffee is brighter, with notes of floral and citrus, the heavier Workhorse lot adds pleasant base notes like chocolate, which rounds out this blend.
Sipi is a community zone on the northern slopes of Mt. Elgon that Mountain Harvest has worked with for over five years. It's one of ten community zones that Mountain Harvest works with on Mt. Elgon. Uniquely, 64% of the farmers working in Sipi are women, in comparison to the average of 34% across Mt. Elgon.
As a region with a majority women farmers, Mountain Harvest finds women here leading coffee businesses in progressive ways. For example, nearby Sipi's most famous waterfalls, a group of women meet at their host's farm, Mama Janet (aka Chekwoti Janet, photo top of page). These women lead their own VSLA (Village Savings and Loan Association) that has enabled not just financial literacy training, but also model farming, animal husbandry, and beekeeping - all under the dedicated direction of Mountain Harvest's buying officer, Joseph Chemonges, a model farmer himself.
So often, coffee from Mt. Elgon is seen as inconsistent. When Mountain Harvest came on the scene in 2018, they took time to study why. Using what they learned, Quality Manager Nathan Kotaki and his Quality Controller, Emma Amutuhaire have quickly helped Mountain Harvest become recognized as the best source for high quality, consistent coffee from Uganda - and therefore, also raised the reputation and incomes of the ten communities they source from in Mt. Elgon. This versatile coffee represents the distinctive terroir of Mt. Elgon and the incredible work of the farmers that reside there.
MOUNTAIN HARVEST: A UNIQUE COFFEE IMPORTER
Mountain Harvest describes themselves as a Ugandan coffee company for Ugandans by Ugandans. They are a team of quality controllers, agronomists, certification managers, coffee buyers, processing technicians, milling staff, and more. According to founder Kenneth Barigye, Managing Director, "Our reason for being in this business is to improve livelihoods." They are dedicated to helping farming families improve the quality of their coffees and the quality of their lives.
As a prime example of how this works, Mountain Harvest's Chief Operating Officer, Nico Herr, shared, "In an effort to respect the traditional understandings of the Ugandan farmer, we buy farm-washed (home processed) coffees from smallholder farmers," which often have a higher moisture content than a coffee buyer might purchase.
They have strict standards for themselves and for farmers: they consistently pay 30% above other coffee buyers for higher quality coffee, they provide farmer access to processing infrastructure (for example, tarpaulins, moisture meters, drying sheds and pulpers, certified calibration of farmer-owned pulpers), and perhaps the most striking aspect of their coffee buying decisions is that they happen in full view of the farmer, which is very rare. This is so farmers can learn why their coffee might be earning a certain price, learn the visual clues to look for, and can be provided examples and next steps for how to meet standards for a higher price next season.
Mountain Harvest's Quality Manager, Nathan Kotaki will work with farmers at their HQ for many days to ensure they know exactly how to meet the standard. "By next season," says Nico, "we find those farmers being high performers."
Follow them @mountain.harvest on Instagram!
Kenneth Barigye, Founder & Managing Director, photo Jjumba Martin
Wandeba Scovia, photo Jjumba Martin
Nathan Kotaki, photo Jjumba Martin
Nakke Christine, MH Quality Officer, photo Loretta Ishida
Mwenyi Judith, photo Jjumba Martin
Kusolo Robinah, photo Jjumba Martin
Sipi Women coffee farmers, photo Jjumba Martin
Navidie Fatuma handsorting coffee. Photo by Jake Lyell
Nathan Kotaki, photo: Jjumba Martin/Mountain Harvest
Loading the color sorter, Photo: Jjumba Martin for Mountain Harvest
Offloading coffee bags, photo Jjumba Martin
Sipi Falls, photo Jjumba Martin
Amutuhaire Emma - MH Quality officer, photo Jjumba Martin
Chekwoti Janet in her coffee and banana plantation, photo Jjumba Martin
Namukobe jackson - MH Senior Technician, photo Jjumba Martin
Foothills of Mount Elgon, Photo Jake Lyell
Nagudi Stella, MH Field assistant, photo Jjumba Martin
Several smallholder farmers
MILL / WASHING STATION
Wet processing on farms; dry processing with Mountain Harvest
1600 - 2200 meters
DID YOU KNOW
After three years of research and pressuring local banking systems, Mountain Harvest decided to prove banks’ wrong and invest in the farmers themselves with a grant provided by an INGO. In 2022, they launched a fully in-house managed Microfinance program, providing $27,000 in the form of lines of credit and loans for 31 VSLA groups across Mount Elgon in 3 months. Each loan was between $50 to $300, a life changing addition to a farmers’ household.
Price paid by Driftaway
Free on Board price
Farm Gate price
Fair Trade price per pound
Coffee C-Market price per pound
Driftaway's World Coffee Research contribution per pound
This coffee travelled 7,124 miles to the Driftaway Coffee roastery in Queens.
Love the coffee? You can share your compliments & tasting observations with the farmers.
WHY DID WE SELECT THIS COFFEE?
This coffee has the spice, nuttiness and clean finish that we look for in a Bold profile, and it's some of the best Ugandan coffees we've ever tasted. Mountain Harvest's work on Mt. Elgon has transformed the quality level , as well as the potential for sustainable farmer livelihoods.
Coffee from this area of Uganda has had a reputation for being inconsistent, and the Mountain Harvest Quality team dedicated their first three years of production research to figuring out why this is. They applied the lessons they learned from this research, and feedback from their roaster partners, to find innovative ways to increase coffee quality, and to keep that quality high year after year.
They also invest in these coffee growing communities by funding grants to individual farmers, and using model farms, training in composting, cherry picking biodiveristy, and organic certification. They also created 34 (and counting!) Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA), including 3 that are women-led from the farmers of the Sipi Ladies' lot.
AVERAGE CUPPING SCORE
SCAA Cupping Score
15 x 60 k
Length of producer relationship
100% (in 2022)
Transparent coffees purchased
HOW DID WE ROAST THIS COFFEE?
This coffee is being roasted by Ian T. from November 6th to December 1st in Brooklyn. We use the Loring Kestrel roaster for this profile. We have strict guidelines for each of the coffee profiles, and this roast has to pass the development time ratio test as measured in real-time by the roasting software, Cropster. Once it does, it is approved for production.
We perform Quality Control via a process of coffee tasting called cupping on all of our production roasts once a week at our roastery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Each cupping is conducted by James M. and Ian T. using standard equipment, and is logged by our Q-certified cupper Ian T. All coffees are evaluated on a scoring scale of 0 to 3.
- 3.0 = exceptional roast - exceeds expectations
- 2.5 = on par with profile - matches expectations
- 2.0 = good roast, but 1 or 2 elements could be improved - needs improvement
- 1.5 or lower = failed - do not ship
PRODUCTION AND SHIPPING
Less than 24 hours after roasting, we bag your coffee in our production facility in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Our production team is led by Anthony and Torie, and supported by a rotating cast of local artists, musicians and independent professionals.
AT YOUR HOME
Brew this coffee with your favorite home brewer and enjoy the taste of incredible coffee! Here are a few tips on how to make the best coffee on each brewer.