UGANDA - MBALE - RAISED BED NATURAL
We taste: TONS of muscadine grapes, raspberry Pez candy, ginger chews and raw cacao.
Producer: Smallholders organized around Mountain Harvest Uganda
Region: Yilwanako, Buginyanya, Bushiyi, Makali, Bukalasi and Sipi communities, Mt. Elgon, Uganda
Elevation: 1600 – 2200 masl
Process: Natural process, dried on raised screens
Varietal: SL-14, Nyasaland
Mount Elgon is a massive peak split nearly in two by the border of Uganda and Kenya. The “mountain” itself, now an extinct shield volcano, is more an enormous expanse of successive plateaus that float dramatically above the surrounding valley floor. It is also home to a dense patchwork of farming communities growing some of the best organic coffee in Africa.
Mountain Harvest is a very young and big-thinking group, first established in 2017. The company is dedicated to long-term economic and environmental sustainability for smallholders on Mt. Elgon. Farmers in the upper elevations of Mt. Elgon are among Uganda’s highest anywhere, while still maintaining strikingly diversified farms with incredible quality potential thanks to the climate, soil fertility, and a longstanding culture of land stewardship, but who historically struggle to meet specialty standards by processing coffee in tiny amounts on homemade equipment.
In an effort to raise the economic standard in remote coffee-growing Elgon communities, Mountain Harvest began as an impact investing project underwritten by Lutheran World Relief (LWR). It has expanded in just a few years to include farmer education and training, central processing infrastructure, storage facilities throughout the region, detailed quality control, and international marketing. As of this year Mountain Harvest works with 850 individual smallholders across 8 communities on Mt. Elgon, with each farm growing between 600-1,000 coffee trees. And their coffee stands up to the best fully washed Uganda arabicas we typically taste all year.
The vast majority of coffee managed by Mountain Harvest is traditionally processed by farmers at home and delivered as parchment. This coffee, however, is a centrally-processed, natural microlot from select communities within Mountain Harvest’s farmer network: fresh picked cherry was transported directly from select farms in sealed drums to an experimental processing site constructed by Mountain Harvest near their headquarters in Mbale, where it dried in larger, carefully-controlled volume on raised beds, all of which is overseen by Mountain Harvest’s processing manager, Ibra Kiganda. Centralized processing is ubiquitous across East Africa but in Uganda it is still rare, where collecting low-quality, often still humid, parchment from smallholders is the norm. While Mountain Harvest has had great success training their farmer base to home-process to excellent standards, the central-processing microlots are an attempt to elevate cup profiles even more through greater control.
Over the course of a full harvest coffees are built into blended containers, single-community lots, experimental centrally processed lots like this one, and single-delivery microlots for sale. Mountain Harvest’s minimum pricing is 10-30% above local market prices. Unlike other regional buyers who exclusively process centrally or buy lower grade smallholder parchment, Mountain Harvest invests in farmers’ capacity to produce high-specialty cherry or fully dried parchment coffee within their own resources, helping them maximize their margin when they sell.
Charlie Habegger - Royal Coffee
Hario V60 Pour Over
We used a bit of a tighter brew ratio for this recipe to concentrate the vibrant fruit notes and highlight the big, syrupy body. Like with most of our coffees we used a fresh water by-pass at the end to maintain the vibrancy, cleanliness and complexity in the cup.
Coffee: 25 grams
Grind size: 3 on the Fellow Ode (medium-fine)
Water: 335 grams at 200˚F
Coffee to Water Ratio: 1:13.4
Brew Time: 2:30
1. Rinse filter
2. Add ground coffee
3. Start timer and saturate grounds with 50g water. Stir.
4. Let bloom 30 seconds.
5. Over the next 1.5 minutes, slowly but constantly add water unitl you reach 300 grams. Pour in concentric circles from the middle of the brew bed to the edges making sure to evenly and fully saturate all of the grounds.
6. After all water is poured, give the brewer a little swirl. All water should draw down by 2.5 minutes.
7. After all water draws down, remove the filter from the brewer and give the brewer. Add 35 grams fresh, hot water to the carafe. Give the carafe a good swirl to mix the coffee. Serve and enjoy!
Aeropress - like with the pour over recipe we've designed this aeropress recipe to highlight the dense body, deep sweetness and complex fruit flavors of this coffee. Enjoy!
Coffee: 20 grams
Grind size: 2 on the Fellow Ode (medium-fine)
Water: 200 grams at 185˚F
Coffee to Water Ratio: 1:10
Brew Time: 1:45
1. Rinse filter
2. Invert aeropress, place on scale and add ground coffee.
3. Start timer and saturate grounds with 30g water. Stir.
4. Let bloom 30 seconds.
5. Add remaining 170g water. Stir.
6. Screw filter on to brewer.
7. At 1:15 flip brewer onto your cup or carafe and slowly press the plunger down. Finish your press just as the brewer starts hissing. The press should take about 30 seconds to result in a total brew time of 1:45.