$19.50 | three 4 oz bags
Our partners at the Chema washing station have transformed the landscape of Ugandan specialty coffee. When we met them in 2014, they were making a name for themselves with their washed coffees—a process that was a rarity in Uganda at the time. In 2015, we started a conversation with them about how to produce high-quality natural sundried coffees. These and their other coffees dominated every national cupping competition they have entered since, which has firmly established them as virtuosos of processing excellence in Uganda. Using cherries sourced from the high-altitude community of Kabeywa, we are delighted to offer a washed, natural sundried, and honey-processed version of one coffee. Each of these coffee redefines what to expect from this under-appreciated origin.
Quality improvement is a process figuratively and, in the case of Uganda, literally. For years, the quality of Ugandan coffee was under-achieved; farmers were growing great varieties at high elevations, but poor processing held them back. Investment in washing stations and drying systems around the country has finally allowed for the quality potential of Ugandan coffee to begin to be realized.
The Kapchorwa company initially entered the coffee scene in 1996 in Mt. Elgon, Uganda, by purchasing dried parchment coffee from farmers––a sort of crude, honey process done with minimal equipment individually on farms. In 2009, the company opened a state-of-the-art washing station in Chema to centralize the processing of coffees with the hopes of improving the quality of the exported product and paying better prices to farmers for cherries. Initially, Chema focused on the washed process, which, at the time, was a relatively obscure way to process and sell coffee in Uganda, even though it is the most-popular type of coffee traded in the world.
We first purchased coffee from the Chema washing station in 2014 to use in some of our year-round products. The following year, we reached out directly to see if we could work together to improve the coffee even more. On a trip at the beginning of the harvest, we consulted on drying practices and contracted to pay premiums for community-specific lot separations, instead of regionally homogenized. The coffees we received after that trip represented a huge change in what we were used to tasting from Uganda.
Every year since that first year, the leadership at the Chema washing station has continued to expand and refine their processes. The coffees from the Kabewya are particularly impressive: the washed, natural sundried, and honey processed lots from this community represent the pinnacle of what we have tasted in quality coffees from Uganda.