The remote slopes of Mount Elgon don’t attract many visitors. The road is long, the rain makes traveling difficult, and the landscape from outside appears… uninspiring. But what so many skip, we discovered.
Gibuzale is part of an Arabica-focused area on the middle and lower slopes of Mt. Elgon, an inactive volcano in Eastern Uganda, on the border with Kenya. The Gibuzale Washing Station, which literally translates to where farmers bring their cherries to sell, is the most remote of all the Kyagalanyi (pronounced CHUG-uh-lani) stations. During the heavy rains, access to the station can become quite difficult. Traditionally, long rain patterns have lasted from April through December, but recent changing climate conditions have yielding less rain and higher temperatures. The average farm size is 0.89 hectares (2.2 acres) and each farmer has around 950 coffees trees.
We believe this coffee is among the best in Uganda. It’s proof that there has been a huge improvement in quality in this country, and there’s potential for still more. We believe this is the result of 10 years of Kyagalanyi’s work on the ground here, investing time and money in training farmers and developing a core field team.
Tiny but mighty.
Uganda is located on an equatorial plateau extending from 3,200 ft in the lowlands up to 16,000 ft at its peaks in the Rwenzoris. It is one of the smallest countries in Africa, but ranks second in the continent’s coffee production and seventh on the world stage. Yes, a country the size of Oregon produces more coffee than Kenya or Tanzania. Unlike Kenya or Tanzania, however, coffee estates or plantations are not common in Uganda, accounting for less than 7% of all coffee production. Uganda’s estimated 1.3 smallholder coffee farmers each own, on average, half a hectare of land.
Behind these numbers is a story of a mighty force for change. This is the story of Ugandan coffee: it is a tiny country, with tiny farms, that is making mighty strides through unique specialty coffees and progressive agricultural research programs.
Tucked away on the remote lower slopes of Mount Elgon lies the Kyagalanyi Gibuzale coffee co-op and processing station. Kyagalanyi Gibuzale literally translates to “where farmers bring their cherries to sell”.
While the name lacks romance, the hidden landscape does not. Heavy rains often make accessing the station a challenge, but one that’s worth it. Once you reach the mountain, you are instantly met with a vibrant natural ecosystem, locals carrying on centuries-old traditions, and a breathtaking view of Uganda and Kenya you can’t find anywhere else.
The Hidden Gem
The Kyagalanyi Gibuzale station’s remote location and humble size lead many coffee buyers to skip visiting it altogether. It’s a quiet, unassuming place. Thankfully, we didn’t pass over this hidden gem.
The station’s strict quality standards cause coffees from this area to be exceptional. This particular small-batch offering features a gentle date fruitiness, a rounded walnut flavor, and a deep honey-like sweetness that lingers and leaves you craving more.
These incredible beans are exclusively reserved for coffee club members, and are currently not available to the general public. To be the first to experience this artfully roasted offering, please join our specialty coffee membership today.