This week, we're shining the spotlight on our newest African coffee, the surprisingly delicious Organic Uganda Sipi Falls.
Most African coffees are light and bright. Some, like the coffees of Kenya and Tanzania are extremely lively, with distinct lemon and citrus flavors. The coffees of Ethiopia are known for their light, almost tea-like body and lively floral notes. Burundi, D.R. Congo, name an African country that grows Arabica coffee, and chances are that coffee is on the light-bodied, lively-flavored side of the coffee spectrum.
Uganda is the exception to this rule. It's an exception in a lot of ways. Uganda is the biggest coffee exporter in Africa, but most of it, up to 85%, is low priced, Robusta coffee. The exception is the coffee grown in Mt. Elgon in Eastern Uganda. At over 14,000 ft in altitude, Mt. Elgon straddles the border between Uganda and Kenya. Its slopes form a perfect microregion for growing high quality Arabica coffee, and many small coffee farms dot its slopes. The coffee from this microregion features a full body, and a sweet, rich flavor, a very different flavor profile than found in other African coffees.
Before 1999, the farmers on Mt. Elgon processed their coffee beans themselves, using rudimentary techniques that lowered the quality of the finished green coffee and resulted in low prices for the farmers. The Sipi Falls coffee project was founded in 1999 to increase the quality of the coffee grown and to create a sustainable income for farmers. The project is named after a series of three waterfalls that lie on the edge of the Mt. Elgon National Park, and one of the key parts of the project is the Sipi Falls Mill, a state of the art washing station where farmers could bring their coffee beans to be processed with modern techniques. Well processed coffee beans means higher prices for the farmer and better coffee for the consumer.
The quality shows in this year's Organic Uganda Sipi Falls. As we expected, this year's Ugandan is a clean, full-bodied coffee with a sweet, rich flavor. The intensity of those flavors surprised us. The sweet is candy sweet. The rich flavors remind us of vanilla nougat. The candy flavors are balanced by an unexpected spark of lively apricot and cranberry, for a truly delicious cup of coffee.
We had a hard time deciding on the Roaster's Choice roast level for this coffee. A light, City, roast level brings out tangy apricot and lively cranberry flavors. A medium, Full City, roast level, highlights the coffee's candy sweetness and vanilla nougat richness. At darker roast levels, Vienna or Northern Italian, the coffee brews into an even sweeter, heavier bodied cup. We like Organic Uganda Sipi Falls at all these roast levels, but finally settled on Full City because a medium roast level captures most of the coffee's interesting, nuanced flavors.
Have you tried coffee from Uganda, or visited Mt. Elgon National Park? If so, we'd love to hear about it. You can share your thoughts on the Facebook thread or in a comment on this blog. Or, if you'd like to share your opinion with the wider world, leave us a coffee review on Google or on your favorite review site. Not only do we value your opinions, but reviews help more people find us. Help us connect coffee lovers to fresh, quality coffee!
~ Carrie, Paul and all of us at Coffee by the Roast