Naturals, washed, and some special preps sourced from Eastern Uganda.

As an origin with so much potential, we started sourcing from Uganda in 2018. If processed well, the quality of Ugandan coffee can be incredible. With centralised processing and drying facilities, we have developed sourcing programs in the East. We have seen the quality rise and have been working on new product concepts. These coffees deserve a place in the specialty industry and are different from the normal, home-processed coffees that are often inconsistent in quality and traceability.

Harvesting season

Almost all year

Arrival times

July – August, January – April

Quantities

10 - 20 bag microlots, 100 + bag communal lots

Packaging

60kg Grainpro bags

Cultivars

Mixed SL varieties, SL 14, 28, 34, Bourbons, Catimors

Processes

Naturals and washed, various fermentation methods

Flavour profiles

Classic naturals, wild and boozy naturals, classic washed, fruity washed

Usage

Filters and espressos, special editions

Shelf life

We can never guarantee more than 6 months after arrival for any coffees.

Sourcing

In Uganda, planning before the harvest season is mandatory. We plan with our suppliers, commit to volumes, pre-contract, and when possible, pre-finance to ensure the output we’re seeking. We have detected great potential in naturals and special preparations. We focus on developing protocols to deliver new flavour concepts on scale, both for naturals and washed coffees. After quality, our main criteria when buying is traceability and the premiums we pay, which must go directly to the producers.

Most coffee in Uganda is home processed, meaning the farmers pick the cherries and either de-pulp it with a hand pulper, or simply dry the cherries on a tarp. We don’t buy home processed coffees as we find them inconsistent in quality and difficult to fully trace. Instead, our buying programmes are based on a centralised processing/drying facility.

Like most origins we work in, we focus on smallholders and establish local partnerships that share the same objective as us: to take Ugandan specialty coffee to the next level. We commit to the coffees we purchase, so that producers are incentivised to invest in their processing protocols. By guiding the producers we work with and establishing the right partnerships, our coffees fall under four main categories: classic naturals, wild and boozy naturals, classic washed, and fruity washed. 

Our classic naturals are clean and distinctive with typical mature berry flavours, pronounced fermentation towards strawberry and raspberry, as well as fruity cacao.

The wild and boozy naturals are more lactic and/or alcoholic, often anaerobic or semi-anaerobic fermentation. Fruity, mature stonefruit, sometimes yoghurt-like, with everything from candy-like tutti-frutti to banana and sweet spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and herbs.

Our classic washed lots are clean with good depth, mild florals, currant and grape-like, mild herbal, bright and clean. 

The fruity washed lots are fully washed with different levels and methods of fermentation, sometimes anaerobic or semi-anaerobic, more layers of fruit and mild fermentation flavours, often reminiscent of good honey processed coffees.

Our smallholder coffees come from farmers who commonly own less than a hectare of land. For the washed coffees, our farmers deliver cherries to a small washing station who process and dry the coffee on-site, or move it to a central drying space. For naturals, the farmers either deliver cherries to a bigger centralised drying station that specialises in naturals, or to local cherry collection centres, before the coffee is transported to the drying facility. Washing stations deliver the parchment to exporters who cup and grade the coffee, dry mill, and export the finished green coffee.

For our estate coffee, the producer has their own washing station/mill and drying space at. They process all their own coffees here, and buy cherries from outgrowers (neighbouring smallholders). The coffees are picked and immediately transported to the wet mill for pulping, fermentation, and drying. They are then moved to an exporter’s warehouse where they are milled and shipped according to our instructions. The producer owns the coffee outright, and pays the exporter for services like dry milling, grading, bagging, quality control, documentation, and logistics.

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Harvest & Post-Harvest

A step-by-step overview

Quality

Most coffee in Uganda is home processed, meaning the farmers pick the cherries and either depulp it with a hand pulper, or simply dry the cherries on a tarp. We don’t buy home processed coffees as we find them inconsistent in quality and traceability. Instead, our buying programmes are based on a centralised processing/drying facility.

We identify micro-regions, smallholder farmers and micro estates that go against the traditional views and pushes for higher quality. We know the quality of Ugandan coffee can be amazing if it’s processed well. These coffees deserve a place in the specialty industry and Ugandan producers should have access to specialty premiums.

Transparency

After quality, our main criteria when buying is that the coffees are fully traceable, including the premiums we pay, which must go directly to the producers.

The producer owns the coffee outright, and pays the exporter for services like dry milling, grading, bagging, quality control, documentation, and logistics.

Impact

Unlike other East African origins where it is easy to visit, cup, and select from existing stock lots of specialty coffees, Uganda doesn’t have a selection of good quality coffee just sitting around. You have to plan before the harvest season. We plan with our suppliers, commit to volumes, pre-contract and where possible, pre-finance to ensure the output we’re seeking. There are so many good coffees around, but very little investment has been made in post-harvesting, or in the supply chain in general, so the country has struggled to achieve its full potential. This suits us well, as we love a challenge. 

As for most origins we work in, we are focused on smallholders and seek local partners with these relationships. Together we develop processing protocols, and Nordic Approach pre-contracts these coffees, aiming to find a market for these coffees and elevate the origin’s potential.

About the origin

With very few washing stations in the country, home processed coffees dominate the coffee sector, accounting for 85-90% of Ugandan production. Farmers dry their own cherries, often on plastic or tarp. If the coffee is washed, they use a small and simple hand pulper. The inconsistent and low quality of these coffees means they are mostly sold for unsustainably low prices.

There are very few washing stations in Uganda. While big multinationals are investing in washing stations, most farmers prefer to home-process their coffee. Exporters and locals are also hesitant to invest in washing stations, due to a general feeling of mistrust in the industry. 

The country’s total production amounts to 4,2 million bags, or 250,000 metric tonnes. There are about 1,7 million households producing coffee, with the average farm size being 0.18 hectares. Around 40% of Uganda’s coffee production is Arabica, which is grown from 1000 – 2300 masl. About 70% of this is processed as natural. 

The West and SouthWest, and the East of Uganda are the biggest regions for Arabica production, while the Central region is known for growing Robusta.

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Contact us

Want to know more? Talk with our experts.

Morten Wennersgaard
Co-CEO & Co-Founder
Joanne Berry
Head of Sourcing & Procurement

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