Churchill called Uganda the pearl of Africa. The landlocked nation bordering Lake Victoria produces some of Africa’s most sought-after coffees. This February we’re shining a spotlight on a very special Ugandan coffee that Dilworth has been buying for a decade. We work closely with a company called Crop to Cup that began sourcing coffee in Uganda in 2007 and slowly expanded throughout Africa and around the world. They now work with over 110 communities in a dozen countries. We specifically want to highlight the work of a young entrepreneur named Dison Kareg who started a washing station near Mt. Elgon in East Uganda with a contagious desire to enrich his community and produce incredible coffee. Indeed, this Ugandan coffee is amazing, and we’re excited to tell you about it.
DISON AND MT. ELGON
With only an idea and a lot of determination, amid the pandemic, Dison Kareg decided to build a washing station. He traveled around Africa searching for washing methods he could bring home to his country of Uganda. With help from Crop to Cup and Root Capital, Dison built a three-channel washing station in his hometown of Sipi Falls beneath Mt. Elgon. Dison is embedded in the community of coffee farmers around Sipi Falls. Each day, during harvest season, he collects freshly picked coffee cherries from small farms all around his town and processes them overnight. They go through a process of anaerobic fermentation and then are washed and dried on raised beds. This network Dison has organized is called Mamboo Coffee Network, and Tapera is the name Dison gave to the cherry that is grown in this region. Crop to Cup is on a mission to empower local farmers and entrepreneurs like Dison to enrich their communities through coffee, and Dilworth is so proud to support the work they do by purchasing and roasting their amazing coffee. Without suppliers like Crop to Cup, we would not be able to responsibly source these coffees.
Uganda produces far more Robusta than Arabica. In 2023 of the 6.85 million bags of coffee produced, Robusta accounted for 85%. Robusta tends to grow centrally, while Arabica grows in the East neat Mt. Elgon and the Southwest near Kasese. Ugandan coffees in the Mt. Eglon region are grown on small farms of about 20-200 trees, at high elevations, managed by an individual family or homestead. This farm is usually the family’s only access to the economy. Because of the small and very individual contributions from these families, coffees in Uganda struggle to be consistent. This is both a blessing and curse. The quality can range from pronounced fruitiness to a medium acidity and nice body. Lots of coffee from Mt. Elgon typically has a strong citrus flavor and medium bodies. In the past, because of these complications, Ugandan coffee had a reputation to fade in flavor and aroma over time. Improper drying and washing techniques produced coffees that didn’t last and were only useful to blend with other coffees. But the work of people and organizations like Dison and Crop to Cup has allowed Uganda to emerge and have a seat at the table of specialty coffee.
Our Uganda, from Dison’s Mamboo Network, is roasted to highlight its acidity and silky body. It’s delightfully balanced in that way. Couple that with a smooth chocolate base, you’ve got a coffee that’s pleasant and interesting to drink that stands up by itself and blends well with other coffees. When Ugandan coffee is good, it’s very good.
Ugandan coffee is celebrated for its diversity and acidity. Here at Dilworth, we celebrate the great people who make it all happen. Supporting transparent and ethical trading standards is a passion of ours, and roasting those beans to perfection is our talent. This coffee is one of our most interesting single origins, and we’re so excited for you to try it.