Rwenzori Mountains – Uganda – Gardelli – Filter and Espresso
Rwenzori Mountains – Uganda – Gardelli – Filter and Espresso – From Greek and Roman times, stories have been told of the mythical Mountains of the Moon as the source of the river Nile. For a long time they eluded European explorers, who failed to find them due to them being shrouded in the clouds.
Today the majestic mountain range is known as Rwenzori and it stretches along the border between Uganda and DR Congo, with the highest peak, Mt Margherita at 5.109 MASL with its permanent glaciers almost perfectly at the line of the Equator.
Great Lakes Coffee has been sourcing coffee directly from farmers in the Rwenzori Mountain region for over 5 years.
For the last 2 years they have worked with certain farmer groups willing to deliver ripe cherry of a high standard, which is then collected and transported to a drying station in the town of Kasese. These cherries are immediately floated to remove any insect damaged cherries, and then spread out on raised drying beds to be sorted and turned during the 14 – 18 day drying cycle.
Once the coffees have reached a moisture level of 12% in dried cherry form (locally called Kiboko, which in Swahili means ‘Hippopotamus’, due to the shape and colour of the dried cherry) they are moved to the warehouse to rest for 2 weeks before being transported to the GLC drymill facility in Kampala.
While Uganda is one of the countries where robusta coffee originated, today it is gaining increasing recognition for the quality of its arabicas. Actually it is the next frontier for specialty coffee in East Africa. While the geography is perfect, this is an unlikely place to find specialty coffee, especially a natural.
Dry process seems simple: pick the fruit, lay it out in the sun until it turns from red to brown to near-back, and then hull off off the thick, dried outer layer in one step to reveal the green bean. It is a method suited to arid regions, where the sun and heat can dry the seed inside the intact fruit skin.
It’s often referred to as “natural coffee” because of its simplicity, and because the fruit remains intact and undisturbed, a bit like drying grapes into raisins. Since it requires minimal investment, the dry process method is a default to create cheap commodity-grade coffee in areas that have the right climate capable of drying the fruit and seed.
But it’s a fail in humid or wet regions. If the drying isn’t progressing fast enough, the fruit degrades, rots or molds.
Dry-processed coffees can also be wildly inconsistent. If you want a cleanly-fruited, sweet, intense cup, dry process (DP) takes more hand labor than the wet process. Even the most careful pickers will take green unripe or semi-ripe coffee off the branch as they pick red, ripe cherry. If these are not removed in the first days of drying, the green turns to brown that is hard to distinguish from the ripe fruit.