Uganda Bukonzo Dream
Region: Kalingwe Buying Station, Rwenzori Mountains
Altitude: 1,720 m.a.s.l.
Variety: SL28, SL14
Tasting Notes: full bodied, mango, strawberries
This lot of coffee is the first we’ve purchased from the small East Africa-focused importer Omwani Coffee. We cupped it alongside Rwandan and Costa Rican samples—two coffee producing countries renowned for quality—and the Bukonzo Dream was a clear winner. It’s a natural processed coffee so it has all the intense fruit and sweetness you’d expect, and yet it’s layered and complex with a full, creamy body holding it all together.
The people of the Bukonzo tribe live in the Rwenzori Mountains and have been farming coffee there for generations. The importer tells us that his colleague, a Bukonzo man, said to him that it was his dream to travel to the UK one day. And so, this coffee got its name. The coffee itself is part of a 24-sack lot that was grown by smallholder farmers whose plots average less than 3-acres. It was dried as whole cherries on raised beds inside polytunnels for 22 days before it was milled and exported.
The farmers who grew this coffee deliver their cherry to buying stations set up by Agri-Evolve, a “profit for purpose” business. Agri-Evolve aims to educate farmers on agronomy practices that increase cup quality and plant productivity. They buy whole cherries because most farmers aren’t able to process their own green coffee to a specialty standard, though the cherries, if processed carefully, are speciality grade. The whole cherries are transported to Agri-Evolve’s mill and warehouse in Kisinga in the foothills of the mountain range. There, they’re are sorted, processed, and assessed for quality.
Omwani tells us that before Agri-Evolve set up the buying centers in the mountains, farmers carried their own cherries, sometimes for hours, to their nearest town. Once they got there they were faced with the choice to either take whatever price the buyer offered or walk back up the mountain with their harvest and come another day when the price was hopefully better. In addition, this set-up also meant that coffee from many producers was blended and the overall quality was reduced. “Ultimately," according to Omwani, "Community buying centres are a conveniently located route to market for farmers and attached to this comes transparency of fair coffee prices that they can use to coordinate with their harvest.”
Steampunk initially bought eight 30kg sacks, but we increased our order by four 30kg sacks when it was picked to be October's mystery coffee for UK Coffee Forum's LSOL (Lighter Side of Life) subscription club. Some descriptions from their chat include, " These beans deserve a standing ovation;" "I'm getting strawberries, cream and biscuits in my V60's. Gorgeous; "17.5g in 34 out in 29 seconds at flat 6 bar = tasty tasty. Funky hints of pineapple with quite a soft caramel finish. Flippin' lovely!"
Are you storing your coffee correctly? Find out how to keep your beans in tip top condition with our blog post How to Store Coffee.