July 2022’s Coffee Origin - Uganda AA - Bugisu Bluesky Estates
The Other Side of the Mountain Was All That We Could Taste
Last month, we Cupped a coffee from Ndaro-Ini Kenya. This month's origin is grown just under 600km NW, on the other side of the mountain dividing Kenya and Uganda. Actually, the mountain is an extinct volcano named Mt. Elgon and the micro-climate on the Uganda side is quite different than the Kenyan. Uganda is on the rain shadow side of Mt Elgon, receiving fairly consistent rainfall and cooler temperatures, conducive for coffee growth. The relatively cooler temperatures on the Uganda side of Mt Elgon deterS pests, while the volcanic soil limits the need for fertilizers. This environmental advantage, combined with the elevation afforded by a mountain helps produce highly popular specialty coffee.
What Do You Mean By Bugisu?
The area around Mt Elgon where coffee and other crops are grown is referred to as Bugisu. Bugisu with regards to Mt. Elgon refers to the physical region, the Local Tribe, British Colonialism, Coffee, and other crops. For our purposes, Bugisu refers to the role that the Bugisu Tribe played in centralizing control of coffee production in the North Western region of Mt Elgon. The Bugisu Tribe, native to the region, became heavily involved in agricultural politics during the final years of British Colonialism. Though the formation of the The Bugisu Cooperative Union in 1954, they consolidated control of coffee production (which had been interfered with by Europeans for decades) in the region and created a name synonymous with quality in Ugandan coffee. While Unions have been declining in size and power in Uganda since the mid-1990's, Bugisu has continued to be used as a mark of quality by smallholder farmers on Mt Elgon.
UGANDA BUGISU AA - MT ELGON BLUESKY ESTATES
Region: Bugisu, Mount Elgon
Growing Elevation: 4400+ feet
Harvest Season: September - November
Process: Fully Washed and Sun Dried
Flavour Profile and Notes: GO CUP YOURSELF and find out!
Mt Elgon's Coffee Production Process
Similar to many African Coffee producing regions, coffee is often grown by smallholder farmers. Each farm may only consist of a relatively small physical area with limited coffee trees interspersed with other crops. Each farmer produces a quantity of coffee that alone would not support an export industry. However, when organized and combined with the other local farmer's crops, a substantial yield can be established. Contributing farmers pick ripe coffee cherries and deliver them to the centralized facilities where they can be sorted and added to the amalgamated crop.
An amalgamated crop is then sorted, graded and processed for different markets. This is where unions and cooperatives thrive at setting quality controls and improving the processes followed by the farmers. In this case the North Western region of Mt. Elgon these coffee crops are referred to as Bugisu coffees.
Over time efficiencies, uniform grading, and improved quality raise the quality and price of the coffee creating a sustainable local industry. Mt. Elgon's Bugisu coffees have worked for decades to evolve the network that allows their coffees to reach our cups, but as always we ask the same question; how does it taste?
Comparing the unroasted Uganda AA beans to last month's Kenya AA was a useful exercise in understanding different country's grading system. The Kenya AA beans appear slightly larger and a darker shade of green than this month's Uganda. The Kenyan beans were also more consistent in shape and size than this month's coffee, which we took into account when setting the initial charge on the coffee roaster. For this roast we started off slightly cooler than last month and ran the roast a bit longer. It's been a while since we carried a Ugandan coffee in the shop and this one has been a hit with our regulars. As for this roast, we chose a light to medium, that is closer to where we would actually "Cup for quality". This coffee is well balanced at most roast level and is a definite "must try" for expanding your Coffee Cupping palate.
Cupping-wise, this coffee has a few flavours that we don't have on our online flavour wheel. Look for Cedar notes (not on our wheel), followed by Dark Chocolate and …wait a minute, if you want cupping notes Go Cup Yourself!
Once you have finished Cupping, click on the “EXPERT TASTED” tab for our tasting notes. Can’t wait to compare notes.
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