Uganda Mountain Harvest
Mountain Harvest’s coffee has become one of the most popular Ugandas in a very short time. The coffee is rich in chocolate-covered raisin sweetness, full-bodied, and has just enough stone fruit flavor and earthy florals to make it an outstanding please-everyone profile.
Mountain Harvest is a very progressive producer group in Uganda, investing heavily in their farmers’ equity in the final product and constantly diversifying their cup profiles available to buyers.
Mount Elgon and Mountain Harvest
Mount Elgon is a massive peak split nearly in two by the border of Uganda and Kenya. The “mountain” itself, now an extinct shield volcano, is an enormous expanse of successive plateaus floating dramatically above the surrounding valley floor. It is also home to a dense patchwork of farming communities growing some of the best organic coffee in Africa.
Mountain Harvest is a young and big-thinking group established in 2017 committed to long-term economic and environmental sustainability for smallholders on Mt. Elgon. These farmers are Uganda’s highest and most diversified coffee growers with incredible quality potential thanks to the climate, soil fertility, and a longstanding culture of land stewardship.
To raise the economic standard in remote coffee-growing Elgon communities, Mountain Harvest began as an impact investing project underwritten by Lutheran World Relief (LWR). It has expanded in just a few years to include farmer education and training, central processing infrastructure, regional storage facilities, detailed quality control, and international marketing. As of this year, Mountain Harvest works with 850 individual smallholders across eight communities on Mt. Elgon, with each farm growing between 600-1,000 coffee trees. Their coffee stands up to the best thoroughly washed Uganda Arabicas we typically taste all year.
The Supply Chain
Mountain Harvest organizes growers by the local community. They administer farm management and processing training to calibrate all producers to high specialty standards, and they expedite parchment to their centralized location in Mbale, at the foot of Mt. Elgon. In Mbale, each delivery is cupped against a strict and detailed qualitative and physical grading system and allocated accordingly. A typical smallholder picks coffee daily during harvest, de-pulps it on hand-cranked or generator-powered de-pulpers, sometimes shared between neighboring households, and ferments overnight in small plastic tubs or nylon sacks. Coffee is then rinsed clean and dried in a thin layer on ground tarps or, increasingly, raised screens to improve air circulation.
Individual parchment deliveries are built into blended containers, single-community lots, and single-delivery micro-lots for sale throughout harvest. Mountain Harvest’s pricing to their producers is a minimum of 10-30% above local market prices and often involves additional premiums for quality. Unlike other regional buyers who exclusively process centrally or buy low-grade, humid, smallholder parchment, Mountain Harvest invests in farmers’ capacity to produce high-specialty, fully-dried parchment coffee within their resources, helping them maximize their margin when they sell.