Uganda Origin trip: Pearl of Africa

After a lot of planning and preparation, we were off for our Uganda origin trip! The goal for the trip was to find some unique natural and washed coffee, to meet our local partners producing robusta and to put Uganda on the Coffee Quest map!

What awaited was a long flight to Kampala with transit in Kigali. Luckily, Skip brought his Aeropress to fulfil his dreams of becoming part of the Mile High Aeropress Club. The cabin crew and the pilots were interested as well so they took the chance to take an unpaid masterclass from Skip.

Fun fact: the boiling temperature of the water on an aeroplane is about 9°C lower than on sea level. This resulted in some under-extracted cups for the cabin crew, but we still managed to get some extra cookies for the effort. Winning.

Once we arrived in Kampala, Michiel had trouble with trying to smuggle his drone past the security. Because we did not have a permit for flying it, border control confiscated it. A pity because Michiel made countless hours of airtime to navigate the drone through the Ugandan jungle. Fortunately, we could still pick the drone up when leaving the country and border control safely stored it in a closet with 300 other confiscated drones. We drank our sorrows away at the hotel bar, popped a malaria pill and went to bed.

Our first days in Kampala were spent with Tony, the director of cooperative union UCFA in Uganda. Tony’s quest is to make Ugandan coffee a top product that can farmed with pride and honesty. He teaches farmers to diversify their crops to increase financial stability. While we were driving through the streets of Kampala, he told us the following about Uganda as production country.

The gene pool of Ugandan coffee is quite extensive, according to Tony. This makes it an exciting coffee country with a variety of flavour profiles, exactly what we were hoping to discover during this trip!

The first day in Kampala was coming to an end. After I was mistaken for a famous vlogger by two local girls and had to take a photoshoot with them, we casually finished the day by eating some crocodile at a local restaurant.

I don't know what they were talking about...

After our first few days in Kampala, we took our rental van to the east of Uganda near the border of Kenya. Our driver Bashir navigated us through the busy traffic of Kampala all the way to the mountaintops of the Mt. Elgon area. Bashir is a very well-spoken Ugandan who answers every question with a polite ‘’yes’’. The first few days we thought he understood everything we were saying because of his confirmatory responses. But when I asked him to pull over for a quick pee break and he kept driving on for an hour straight! We noticed that he did not understand a word of what we were saying. Either that or it was just a savage way to pay us back for Michiel’s Goa trance music that was already pumping through the speakers for three hours.

We tasted some awesome coffees in Mount Elgon, but it was time to move on to the west of Uganda. Although we had 3 weeks to spend, we still had a full schedule to fulfil. This included abseiling from Sipi Falls with some sketchy locals who managed to tie a rope to a not so stable looking construction to rock. After they assured us that there had never been an accident, we felt semi-confident enough to take a leap of faith and jump off the waterfall. Fortunately, we all survived, except for my knee that took a small beating when I smashed into the rocks on my way down the waterfall. Luckily Michiel made a video of it, so it was all worth it.

Our next mission:

Our next mission was to distribute the nets for our Malaria Free World campaign with CarePlus and travel to the west. The west of Uganda really is a wild place. Close to the border of Congo and full of widespread national parks.

When we were driving our pickup van through the dirt roads with elephants on our left and monkeys on our right, it truly felt like we were on an Indiana Jones coffee sourcing trip.

It’s no wonder Uganda is called the Pearl of Africa. It’s such a unique country in so many aspects. The landscapes range from tropical jungle to snow-capped mountains, the people that are really kind to foreigners and the coffee that has flavour profiles ranging from full-on mango juice to smooth and creamy chocolate.

One of our last days in Uganda was spent checking out gorillas near the border of Congo.

I’m not going to lie when we walked a few hours through the jungle and we suddenly saw a huge silverback gorilla within 3 meters distance… Skip looked super scared.

It was a pretty crazy experience and still full of adrenaline, Michiel put on some more Goa trance and we raced 8 hours back to Kampala to do our final cupping and catch our plane.

With the sun setting on the African landscape, I was already reminiscing about all the adventures we had.

This is what a Coffee Quest is truly about, going on an adventure and finding awesome coffee whilst doing so. We can’t wait to let you taste the Ugandan experience in a sweet cup of coffee and join us on the next trip!

Cheers, Rutger

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