The Cup That Counts - Uganda Series - Part Two


The Cup That Counts' long term goal is to see quality coffee production as a legitimate and sustainable source of income for coffee farmers in the developing world. The plan for the Mt Elgon Ugandan project is to see coffee become the leading source of income for farmers in that region once again. 

The majority of coffee currently being produced on Mt Elgon is low quality arabica coffee (cupping scores of 75 and below) and is usually sold to the only coffee processing company operating in the region. They blend all the coffee together and sell it in bulk to big commercial roasters in Europe or the US. 

For the coffee to be marketable to specialty roasters, the quality needed to increase. To do this, the farmers need to implement new agricultural practices including organically fertilising the coffee plants, proper irrigation, and quality focused harvesting. The local regions also need their own processing plants to ensure that the coffee cherries are processed fresh and to maintain consistency across regions. There also needs to be a co-op or collective established to market the coffee and also to take the burden of risk from the farmers. Finally, the collective would need to foster relationships with international buyers (like Commonfolk) to sell the coffee at a premium price.

If the quality of the coffee is raised to a specialty level (cupping scores of 80+) it would be reasonable to expect the coffee to sell at almost double the average price. The average Mt Elgon coffee picker can expect a return of only $0.001 for every cup of coffee sold in a western cafe. If the price paid for the coffee increased at the regional processing plant, the farmers and pickers would receive that benefit directly, instead of a middle-man. 

Over 20,000 people are directly involved in the coffee industry of Wanale and the surrounding regions, and an increase in the coffee price would literally transform the community, providing stable jobs, access to water and irrigation, access to education, and most importantly; hope for a better future.  

The story continues here.

All Photography by Ryan Toleman

Thomas Terlaak