Uganda is Africa’s leading coffee exporter and ranked seventh among worldwide exporters in 2015. Coffee is Uganda’s top-earning export crop. During my internship in Uganda with CARITAS’ child sponsorship programs this fall, I have found some time on the weekends to travel. Recently I was able to visit Mount Elgon on Uganda’s eastern border to tour the only certified organic coffee farms in Uganda.
The Mount Elgon area is known for growing Arabica coffee on small private farms in the shadows of natural shade producing crops such as banana and avocado trees. The farmers walked me through the 5-year coffee production process from seed to cup!
Step 1: Coffee seeds are planted and kept in individual plastic pots for one year.
Step 2: When the plants are one year old, they are planted into the fields and left to grow for four more years until the seeds are red and plentiful.>
< Step 3: The seeds are then harvested and ground through this machine to remove the first outer pulp layer from the desired coffee bean.
Step 4: The de-pulped beans are washed to remove sticky sap and left to dry in the sun on large tarps for three days with constant raking and rotation.
Step 5: The dried beans are mashed in a pot made from the tree trunk of a native Ugandan tree to remove a second outer shell from the bean. I took a turn mashing the beans.
Step 6: After the shells are mashed off the beans, the mix is poured onto plates to be sifted and blown on to remove the shells from the mix.
Step 7: The beans are initially a beautiful teal green color, and we light up a fire and roast the beans until they turn the signature rich brown we all know and love. At this point the beans are ready to be packaged for export!
Ugandan coffee bean production from seedling to roasted beans and a generation of future farmers.
Since experiencing the process of coffee production in Uganda myself, needless to say, I have a whole new respect for all of the hard work that goes into my morning cup of coffee! Next time you’re sipping a rich smooth Arabica blend at your local coffee shop, take a moment to appreciate all the time and care that went into making your cup of coffee.