Luwero Robusta Coffee Uganda
After Ethiopia, Uganda is Africa’s second-largest coffee producer. The country’s forests are the homeland of Coffea canephora, better known as robusta, named for its resistance to disease. Robusta began to be cultivated following an epidemic that struck Brazilian arabica at the end of the 19th century, and now has a flourishing market. It is most commonly used in espresso blends, giving body, bitterness and an extra dose of caffeine to the final cup.
Traditionally two native varieties were cultivated in Uganda, Kisansa and Nganga. The first can keep producing for several decades, growing up to 10 meters tall, and is resistant to all the major diseases. The second, Nganga, is smaller and less resistant. It does not fruit all year round, but only at the end of the two rainy seasons, in October and June. Even though the government has pushed for the replacement of traditional varieties with more productive commercial hybrids, many growers have preferred to keep the indigenous varieties.
Along the shores of Lake Victoria, at altitudes between 900 and 1,200 meters above sea level, these ancient robusta varieties are cultivated under shade trees, particularly bananas (the “coffee-banana system” has become common cultivation practice throughout the region).
The processing of the beans involves a lengthy ritual. The pulp from the cherries is removed using two stones. After this initial phase, the beans are pre-toasted in an iron pan. The resulting green coffee beans are then ready for the final roasting inside a terracotta pot, constantly moved around to stop them spending too long in contact with the sides. The terracotta allows the heat to spread gradually, preventing the beans from burning. After grinding the roasted beans in a mortar, the coffee powder is infused in water, producing a beverage with an intense and balanced aroma, characterized by herbaceous notes.
Coffee is also consumed in various other ways in Uganda: as a fruit, as an ingredient in soups, or chewed for its stimulant properties. Coffee continues to have a strong symbolic value in the local culture. Owning coffee plants helps to increase your status, and it is said that a bride who marries a coffee owner will be set for life.
The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity visited the community of producers for the first time in 2011, identifying some traditional ancient varieties to be protected. During a second visit, in February 2012, a Presidium was established to safeguard and promote the Kisansa variety.
The Presidium will initially involve around 70 producers. Through a project run by Caritas Uganda (capcaug.org) they have organized themselves into a cooperatively owned company, the Katuka Development Trust, with the aim of facilitating coffee marketing and having more contractual power with the government. Thanks to the project, coffee producers in 16 districts in the Central region have been able to obtain the necessary certifications to access niche markets like organic and fair trade. The Presidium will also help the producers to find buyers in countries where there is a strong demand for robusta coffee, like Italy.
Zirobwe (Luwero District), Goma and Nakifuma (Mukono District)
CSC (Caffè Speciali Certificati).
70 producers joined together in the Katuka Development Trust Ltd (KDTL)
Tel. +256 755850710