Uganda’s Coffee Charm: A Beckham Deep Dive

If you know me, David Beckham, you’d know that my passions extend beyond the football field. While my heart belongs to football, I’ve recently found myself captivated by the world of coffee. And today, I’d love to share my findings on Uganda’s coffee, a gem often overshadowed by its more famous neighbours.

Uganda: The Robusta Kingdom

First off, 80% of Uganda’s coffee plantations are filled with the robust Robusta beans, a resilient and flavourful variety. The remaining 20% is a blend of Arabica varietals: Typica, SL 14, SL 28, and Kent. Among the Arabica cultivars, the Bugishu (or Bugisu) variety, grown near the picturesque Sipi Falls on the western terrains of Mt. Elgon, stands out. This mountain, one of Uganda’s most majestic, lends the coffee its unique character.

The Coffee Regions of Uganda

Before we dive deeper into the tasting notes, let me paint a picture of Uganda’s coffee landscape:

  • West Nile Region: Located at the Okoro border, adjacent to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.
  • Northern Region: Comprising Lira and Gulu.
  • Eastern Region: Where Mbale and Bugisu lie, touching the Kenyan border.
  • Central & Southwest: This includes Jinja, Mukono, Kampala, and Masaka, all nestled by the serene Lake Victoria.
  • Western Region: Featuring Kasese and Mbarara, also neighbouring the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Western regions, with their higher elevations like Mount Rwenzori (which astonishingly sees snow at its peaks), are home to a significant portion of Arabica. These beans undergo a natural processing method, fondly referred to as “drugars.”

Tasting the Ugandan Magic

When you brew a cup of Bugisu coffee, you’re greeted with a winey acidity reminiscent of a premium East African coffee, coupled with a delightful chocolatey sweetness and a full-bodied texture. However, Uganda’s coffee, with its slightly lighter body, often stands in the shadows of its counterparts from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, or Kenya.

But, it’s not just about the Arabica. The Robusta beans from the Lake Victoria basin, thriving in the region’s clay-rich soils and elevated terrains, exhibit a uniquely high acidity. This makes for a remarkably decent cup of coffee, one that’s undeniably Ugandan.

The Harvesting Dance

Arabica beans are harvested from October to February, while Robusta has a year-long harvest season, peaking between November and February. Post-harvest, these beans undergo either a natural washed process (“wugars”) or the aforementioned natural process (“drugars”). Interestingly, the wild Robusta coffee trees, native to Uganda and perfectly suited to its climate, dominate the nation’s coffee exports.

A Peek into Uganda's Coffee Exports

In recent years, Uganda’s green coffee production has been impressive:

Year 60kg bags Produced Pounds

As for exports:

Year 60kg bags Produced Pounds

Some Intriguing Facts

  • Uganda ranks as the 8th largest coffee producer globally. In 2015, they produced a staggering 481,742,844 lbs and exported 437,655,240 lbs — that’s an export rate of over 91%!
  • Although it sounds vast, it’s just 2.4% of global coffee production.
  • The coffee farms, or “fincas”, are situated between 1300 to 2200 meters above sea level, equivalent to heights of 4,265 to 7,218 ft.

In conclusion, Uganda’s coffee scene, with its rich heritage, unique flavours, and impressive export records, is worth every coffee lover’s attention. While they might not always be in the limelight, the Ugandan beans carry a distinct charm, much like an underrated midfielder on the pitch — always essential, often overlooked.

So, next time you sip on a coffee, give Uganda’s beans a shot; you might just find your new favourite. Cheers!

#Uganda Coffee

#Coffee Lover

#Rich Heritage

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