Uganda - Mountain Harvest - Washed - Organic
Uganda - Mountain Harvest - Washed - Organic Uganda - Mountain Harvest - Washed - Organic Uganda - Mountain Harvest - Washed - Organic Uganda - Mountain Harvest - Washed - Organic Uganda - Mountain Harvest - Washed - Organic Uganda - Mountain Harvest - Washed - Organic

Uganda – Mountain Harvest - Washed, Organic 

Growers: Select smallholders organized around Mountain Harvest, Uganda
Variety: SL-14, Nyasaland
Region: Yilwanako, Buginyanya, Bushiyi, Makali, Bukalasi and Sipi communities, Mt. Elgon, Uganda
Harvest: October - February
Altitude: 1600 – 2200 masl
Soil: Volcanic loam
Process: Fully washed and dried on raised beds

Certifications:  Organic

 Orange pekoe, grape, lemon, honey, baking spice, sweet. Creamy. Full bodied.


Blame COVID or the increasing popularity of Arabica microlot coffees from the Mt. Elgon area of Uganda, but it’s been a couple years since I’ve been able to offer Ugandan Coffees. And I am super excited about the two I have been able to get my hands on; a washed and a natural, from Mountain Harvest.

Cleanliness, balance, and structure make this coffee a cut above every other washed Ugandan my importer, Royal Coffee, tasted this season. Effortless smoothness, its pointed but uncomplicated acidity, and its gentle fruit and chocolate flavor profile.

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. These farmers are Uganda’s highest and most diversified coffee growers 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.

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, fully washed 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, Uganda, where it was depulped, fermented for 24 hours, and 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. 

About the varieties:
Classic Ugandan cultivars grown by local smallholders include SL14, the preferred Scott Labs iteration, first selected in Kenya in 1936 for its tolerance to drought. It’s a Typica type plant, per genetic testing as stated by World Coffee Research. The Nyasaland selection dates back even farther, to Typica introduced to Malawi (formerly known as Nyasaland) from Jamaica in 1878. It’s known locally in Uganda as “Bugisu.”