Uganda

Kasese Mubuku Natural

Cherry for our Mubuku Natural is grown by our extended smallholder network who cultivate coffee in the foothills of majestic Rwenzori mountain. Only the best cherry is selected and meticulously processed for these lots. 

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Details

Coffee Grade:
Kasese Mubuku Natural
Farm/Coop/Station:
Kasese Washing Station
Varietal:
SL14
Processing:
Natural
Altitude:
Washing station – 1,020 meters above sea level; farms - 1,300 to 2,030 meters above sea level
Owner:
4,300+ farmers working Sucafina Uganda
Subregion/Town:
Kasese
Region:
Western Uganda
Farm Size:
<2.5 hectares on average
Area Under Coffee:
2,000+ hectares
Bag Size:
60kg
Harvest Months:
October– February (Main crop) | April–August (Fly crop)

About This Coffee

Kasese station sits on a 20-acre plot of land on the banks of the Mubuku River. The river runs from the glacial caps of the Upper Rwenzori’s all the way to Lake George. In between, it snakes its way down through the fertile farm land on the east facing slopes of the Rwenzori Mountain Range, past Kasese station and into Lake George and the rest of African Great Lakes system.  

Kasese is quite close to the shores of Lake George. The mesmerizingly beautiful Queen Elisabeth National Park is the station’s southern neighbor. Even closer, the entrance to Rwenzori National Park is just one kilometer from the entrance to our washing station. Both parks are UNESCO world heritage sites.

Cultivation

Over 4,300 farmers contribute cherry to Kasese station. They are spread out over a vast system of farms and communities. For those further away from our station, it can be a significant hardship to transport cherry to the station every day. In response to this, we have built a large network of Collection Sites in a web-like pattern that radiates from the washing station.  

Because we receive only a small portion of cherry directly at the station itself, the contact farmers, those who run the collection sites for us, are an extremely important part of our system. We have established comprehensive procedural guidelines to make every collection site effective at receiving quality cherry.  

At the collection sites, contact farmers float all cherry to gauge density. Contact farmers also conduct thorough visual inspection of incoming cherry. Contributing farmers are encouraged to harvest selectively and those who are struggling to reach our quality standards are invited to participate in training sessions to continue learning. 

Harvest & Post-Harvest

Cherry is transported from collection sites to the station daily. Once the cherry has made its perilous journey—the trips are often along steep, dirt roads that often turn to mud. 

With construction being completed on our new, high capacity washing station, we will be looking to produce a strong variety of Washed, Natural and Honey processed coffees.  
While we were able in the last few crop cycles to produce these very exciting Naturals from well harvested and meticulously sorted cherry, the introduction of a state-of-the-art wet mill will mean that our Mubuku Project will be characterized by our ability to produce strong specialty grades in every across all processing methods, as well as creating a freedom to experiment with some new and exciting ways to bring out the great flavors locked up in these coffees.  

For the production of these Naturals, we employed around 90 seasonal staff at the drying tables. These workers are focused almost exclusively on caring for drying cherry. They turn and rake the cherry frequently to promote even drying. As they turn cherry, they visually inspect it for any damaged or defective coffee and remove it. They’re also keeping track of the weather to make sure cherry is properly protected from rain, excess moisture and too much sunlight.   

A smaller team runs the warehouse where we do manual hulling for sample preparation. These samples are sent to the lab in Kampala on a weekly basis. Once the sample indicates a moisture content of between 11 and 12%, we bag the dried cherry and let it rest until trucking it up to Kampala.  
Once it arrives in Kampala, we cup through all the day lots to inspect consistency and figure out the best ways to group day lots, based on cup quality, so that no premium coffee slips through the cracks.

UGACOF/Sucafina Uganda

Our partner, UGACOF/Sucafina Uganda is committed to improving quality in Uganda by building new washing stations and infrastructure and training personnel in the region. Collaborations with our FarmerHub program and our sustainability partner, the Kahawatu Foundation, are building upon our work to expand farmers’ access to better resources and better training. Our connections to our more established operations in nearby Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya offer us advice and a perspective steeped in a familiarity with East Africa.

The bulk of our work in Uganda is focused in the West, near the Rwenzori Mountains. The biggest difference between East (Mount Elgon) and West (Rwenzori) is that Mount Elgon is a more established and competitive market. We are excited to be at the forefront of the drive for enhancing coffee production infrastructure, developing the industry and becoming reliable partners for farmers in the Rwenzori Mountain region.

It is clear to us that the potential in this region might exceed our expectations and even the potential of the popular Mount Elgon region. With an ever-growing demand for high quality Arabicas and a sustained interest from roasters and coffee drinkers in the East African origins, we are very confident that, with diligence and effort, Western Ugandan coffees will be able to take their place alongside the other great East African coffees. ​

While the scale of work in regions like this can sometimes be overwhelming, we have a clear plan that steadily increases coffee quality.

Our first step is the one that leads to the most immediate and noticeable improvement: harvesting techniques. Due to a long history of home-processing and a lack of incentive for high quality, harvesting in the region is often semi- or entirely non-selective. Thanks to our extended network of cherry collection sites, we meet with farmers every day during the harvest season and can give real-time feedback that can impact the quality of the next day’s harvest. At the collection sites, we can insist on higher levels of care and reward meticulous picking. Though we’re still in the early years, we have seen a clear difference in quality from one year to another and even from the first week of the harvest to the last.

Future steps will include working with farmers to improve their access to materials and knowledge of better farming practices. This means making fertilizer more accessible, encouraging farmers to plant shade canopies and more. We’re planning on building demonstration plots, input access sites across the region and training a new generation of skilled washing station staff. We know it will take time, but we have a strategy and are committed to realizing this vision.

Coffee in Uganda

Uganda is the native home to one species of Robusta, and commercial coffee production in the country goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. 

Our partner, UGACOF/Sucafina Uganda is committed to improving quality in Uganda by building new washing stations and infrastructure and training personnel in the region. Collaborations with our FarmerHub program and our sustainability partner, the Kahawatu Foundation, are building upon our work to expand farmers’ access to better resources and better training. Our connections to our more established operations in nearby Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya offer us advice and a perspective steeped in a familiarity with East Africa.

The bulk of our work in Uganda is focused in the West, near the Rwenzori Mountains. The biggest difference between East (Mount Elgon) and West (Rwenzori) is that Mount Elgon is a more established and competitive market. We are excited to be at the forefront of the drive for enhancing coffee production infrastructure, developing the industry and becoming reliable partners for farmers in the Rwenzori Mountain region.

It is clear to us that the potential in this region might exceed our expectations and even the potential of the popular Mount Elgon region. With an ever-growing demand for high quality Arabicas and a sustained interest from roasters and coffee drinkers in the East African origins, we are very confident that, with diligence and effort, Western Ugandan coffees will be able to take their place alongside the other great East African coffees. ​

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