Uganda Bugisu coffee, pronounced "boo-gee-su," is a unique and exquisite coffee variety that hails from the eastern highlands of Uganda, specifically the slopes of Mount Elgon. Situated at an altitude ranging between 1,200 to 1,800 meters above sea level, this region boasts fertile volcanic soils and a temperate climate, creating an ideal environment for coffee cultivation. Interestingly, Uganda is Africa's third-largest coffee producer, yet its Bugisu coffee has only recently gained recognition in the specialty coffee industry.
Coffee has been grown in the Bugisu region for over a century, with historical records indicating that Arabica coffee was introduced to the area by British colonialists in the early 1900s. The local Bugisu people quickly adopted coffee farming, integrating it into their existing agricultural practices. Over the years, coffee production in the Bugisu region has expanded significantly, and today, it is the primary source of income for many families.
Coffee farming in the Bugisu region is predominantly carried out by smallholder farmers who own less than two hectares of land. These farmers typically intercrop coffee with other crops such as bananas, beans, and maize, which helps to maintain soil fertility and improve overall farm productivity.
While specific farming and processing methods may vary among farmers, it is generally known that the majority of Ugandan coffee is processed using the wet method. This involves removing the outer skin and pulp from the coffee cherries using a pulping machine, followed by fermentation in water-filled tanks for 12-48 hours. The fermented beans are then washed to remove any remaining mucilage before being spread out in the sun to dry on raised beds or drying tables. Once the beans have reached the desired moisture content, they are sorted, graded, and stored in bags until they are ready to be exported.
Uganda Bugisu coffee is renowned for its bold and complex flavor profile that is both rich and refreshing. The high altitude and fertile volcanic soils of the region contribute to the development of distinctive flavors that set this coffee apart from other African varieties.
Typical tasting notes for Uganda Bugisu coffee include bright, wine-like acidity, and a pleasant fruity sweetness, often described as reminiscent of berries, citrus, or tropical fruits. The coffee also exhibits a medium to full body with a smooth, velvety mouthfeel, and a lingering, chocolatey finish. The combination of these flavors results in a well-balanced and satisfying cup, making it a favorite among specialty coffee enthusiasts.
Although specific information on well-known farms or farmers in the Bugisu region might not be readily available, the collective efforts of the smallholder farmers, cooperatives, and local processing facilities have undoubtedly contributed to the growing reputation and success of Uganda Bugisu coffee. As the specialty coffee industry continues to expand, there is no doubt that this exceptional coffee variety will continue to gain recognition and appreciation from coffee lovers worldwide.