Articles

Our project in Bulambuli: strengthening Uganda's potential

Uganda is a high-scoring specialty origin that is still under construction. Most of its coffee is strip picked and cultivated for mass production, as little investment has been made to develop its quality further.

If you scratch beneath the surface, there is a lot of potential in quality naturals and special preps. When farmers have the right tools, they can produce excellent flavour profiles on scale.

Our project in Bulambuli

Ever since we started sourcing from the East of Uganda, coffee from Bulambuli has always stood out to us. We quickly realised that improvements in quality control, farm management, and processing methods were necessary to create more interesting profiles and concept coffees.

We therefore established a project with our long-term partners, Ibero. They built a brand new washing station in 2022, where they pulp, ferment, and dry our selection of coffees. They have formed a very dedicated team of industry professionals, who manage cherry buying, financial control, farmer support and traceability protocols.

Together, we’re closely involved in product development and we focus on implementing effective processing methods. Our objective is to create a larger product range with differentiated flavour profiles at a high standard. We’re really pleased with how the project is progressing, as our coffees continue to improve in quality and consistency.

We focus on creating impact for the producers and their communities. Approximately 200 – 400 farmers deliver their cherries to the new Bulambuli site. Besides sourcing quality, we look for unique coffees that are fully traceable. The premiums we pay go directly to the producers, improving their financial and social security.

Our sourcing program is only the beginning of what specialty can look like in this region. Our long term goal is to develop a standardised, fully-functional model for quality and sustainable production, with a data driven solution for traceability.

The Bulambuli region

Sitting on Mt. Elgon, Bulambuli is a district in Eastern Uganda near the Kenyan border. The area’s lush, mountainous terrain and climatic conditions are ideal for specialty production. You’ll find similar varieties to Kenya and Rwanda, as farmers predominantly grow SL14, 28 and 34.

The profiles

We have three main profiles from Bulambuli, all very clean and well-processed. According to our Lab Manager, Espen, “the Bulambuli mill does a good job in bringing out the potential of the coffees. They reveal a soft, tealike profile, with layered notes of stone fruit and sweet tropical fruit. They’re all very sweet, giving a nice, smooth mouthfeel”.

Our naturals

Our natural coffees have been named after an indigenous bird living in the Bulambuli forest. In Lugisu, the local dialect spoken in the area, this bird is called Naginzole. This creature loves to eat fruit, so we used its name to describe our bright, intense naturals with mango forward flavours. We find these coffees to be a bit more jammy, sweet and smooth.

Our washed coffees

Our washed coffees have also been named after an indigenous bird. In Lugisu, this bird is referred to as Zinule. We use it to refer to our fully washed lots from this area, which are sweet, fragrant and intense. These coffees are a bit brighter, cleaner, and structured, with a more Kenya-like profile.

Written by
Delia Iliopoulou Friis
Published on
March 23, 2023

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