This batch of Uganda is a centrally processed honey coffee from Mt. Elgon, produced by farmers organized around Mountain Harvest. It is certified organic.
The flavor profile is high intensity with orange acidity, blackberry and red grape sweetness, and hints of hibiscus.
Grower - Smallholders organized around Mountain Harvest Uganda
Cultivar - SL-14, Nyasaland
Region - Yilwanako, Buginyanya, Bushiyi, Makali, Bukalasi and Sipi communities, Mt. Elgon, Uganda
Harvest - October 2021 - February 2022
Elevation - 1600 – 2200 masl
Process - Honey Process: coffees depulped, and dried in mucilage on raised beds
Blackberry, Orange, Tomato and Grape
We roasted this batch of Uganda to a full medium roast. Depending on the grind and brewing method, this Uganda Honey Crown Jewel can produce strong orange acidity, blackberry , red grape sweetness, and hints of hibiscus.
As with most Top-Shelf coffees, we suggest using the pour-over method to maximized the aroma and flavor of this Crown Jewel coffee using a 1:16 coffee to water ratio with the water between 200F and 205F. Once grounds are placed in the filter, pre-soak grounds by covering with water for ~30sec to allow for blooming, then finish with either a steady pour or a couple of short pours to complete the brewing process.
By Chris Kornman, Royal Coffee
Making a strong case for “Uganda of the Year” this super clean and high-octane honey process is a feast for the senses. We picked up a really fun combination of fruit flavors, ranging from ripe blackberry to fresh orange, red grape and sweet tomato. It’s got a zippy acidic quality and a ton of potential for sugar browning sweetness to layer on top of all those fruit notes. There’s also a hint of florality to it, like hibiscus, and one of our cuppers noted persimmon, which – if you’ve had one of those perfectly ripe sweet little Fuyu varieties – is a spot-on tasting note.
The beauty of well executed honey processing, like this Mbale-grown example, is its ability toe the line between flavors we identify as terroir and cultivar-related (like the rich body, citric acidity, and chocolatey tones we often associate with Mt. Elgon arabica) and those more closely related to process – like that sweet ripe fruitiness of the coffee berry itself, expressed here in varying degrees of berry, grape, and even watermelon flavors.
Producer / Source Background
By Charlie Habegger, Royal Coffee
Mount Elgon is a massive peak split nearly in two by the border of Uganda and Kenya. The “mountain” itself, now an extinct shield volcano, is more an enormous expanse of successive plateaus that float dramatically above the surrounding valley floor. It is also home to a dense patchwork of farming communities growing some of the best organic coffee in Africa.
Mountain Harvest is a very young and big-thinking group, first established in 2017. The company is dedicated to long-term economic and environmental sustainability for smallholders on Mt. Elgon. These farmers are Uganda’s highest and most diversified coffee growers with incredible quality potential thanks to the climate, soil fertility, and a longstanding culture of land stewardship, but who historically struggle to meet specialty standards by processing coffee in tiny amounts on homemade equipment.
In an effort to raise the economic standard in remote coffee-growing Elgon communities, Mountain Harvest began as an impact investing project underwritten by Lutheran World Relief (LWR). It has expanded in just a few years to include farmer education and training, central processing infrastructure, storage facilities throughout the region, detailed quality control, and international marketing. As of this year Mountain Harvest works with 850 individual smallholders across 8 communities on Mt. Elgon, with each farm growing between 600-1,000 coffee trees. And their coffee stands up to the best fully washed Uganda arabicas we typically taste all year.
The vast majority of coffee managed by Mountain Harvest is traditionally processed by farmers at home and delivered as parchment. This coffee, however, is a centrally-processed honey microlot from select communities within Mountain Harvest’s farmer network: fresh picked cherry was transported directly from select farms in sealed drums to an experimental processing site constructed by Mountain Harvest near their headquarters in Mbale, where it was immediately sorted and put out to slowly sun-dry to 10% moisture, all of which is overseen by Mountain Harvest’s processing manager, Ibra Kiganda. The final dried coffee is then conditioned for two weeks in a temperature-controlled warehouse prior to sampling for quality assessment.
Over the course of a full harvest coffees are built into blended containers, single-community lots, experimental centrally-processed lots like this one, and single-delivery microlots for sale. Mountain Harvest’s minimum pricing is 10-30% above local market prices. Unlike other regional buyers who exclusively process centrally or buy lower grade smallholder parchment, Mountain Harvest invests in farmers’ capacity to produce high-specialty cherry or fully-dried parchment coffee within their own resources, helping them maximize their margin when they sell.
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