The name is derived from The Bakonzo Tribe. A group of descendants living throughout the Rwenzori Mountains, covering both Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Individuals do not necessarily identify as citizens of either country, they will proudly announce their Bakonzo heritage. Lots are organised by geographic regions coordinated with specialist buying centres, often broken down even further into specific day-lots. The focus is to control the natural processing of cherries while paying special attention to controlling quality, utilising round-the-clock techniques, constantly refining every process to create the best possible Rwenzori coffee.
Coffee Growing in Uganda
In Uganda, smallholders intercrop their coffee trees with traditional food crops, usually utilizing the shade of banana trees and other shade trees. In these self sustaining conditions, coffee is left to grow naturally, flowering on average twice a year.
Mount Elgon lies in the eastern reaches of the country, straddling the Uganda – Kenya border. Judging by its enormous base it is thought that Mount Elgon was once the tallest mountain in Africa. The coffee shambas extend up and down the cliff faces, making use of natural water gullies and forest cover to extract moisture from the soil. The Sipi Falls are one of the great natural features of the Elgon region where this coffee originates, with small holder farms based between 1,600 and 1,900 metres. It is a steep and difficult terrain to traverse in the rainy seasons – often there are no roads, only dirt tracks that get washed away by the rains.
The Bagisu people who live on the mountain have become expert coffee farmers and have developed their own transportation methods – donkeys!
It is also worth noting that this is the only certified organic coffee from Uganda at this time and is also Utz Kapeh certified. This cup is so different from other East African coffees with: a full and heavy body, lower acidity than neighboring coffee origins, and rustic aspects. It is more reminiscent of the Indonesian cup character than the citric and acidic coffees from Kenya.
Head to the Ugandan Coffee Federation for more information about coffee in Uganda.