Split nearly in two by the border of Uganda and Kenya, Mount Elgon reaches toward the sky one plateau at a time. Home to a patchwork of farming communities across the northern part of the mountain, this massive peak also features Uganda's most famous waterfall: Sipi Falls. Just down the road from the falls is the Sipi Falls wet mill that buys and processes cherry from 8,000 diversified farms.
Uganda is one of the world's largest coffee producers, yet in the past it was not known for quality, while Kenya, a paragon in the specialty world, is routinely ranked among the top coffee producing countries in the world. But reputations change. Determined to heighten its world standing, Uganda's Sipi Falls established the first certified organic wet mill on the continent several decades ago. Now its team of farmers has captured the land's potential by planting Kenyan cultivars and growing some of the best organic coffee in Africa.
A case in point is our Sipi Falls Kaproron, an exceptional coffee that renders a juicy cup bursting with elegance and lush sweetness. Processed as a "natural," wherein the coffee bean is dried inside its cherry, this coffee offers ripe fruit with distinct notes of melon and apricot that gradually lean toward berry, black grape and plum in the finish.
The vast majority of coffee processed at Sipi Falls is fully washed, but beginning in 2016 the mill's quality team began tinkering with honey and natural-processed cherry. These coffees trickled out into the world with very little fanfare at first in what could only be described as a side project for Sipi Falls. However, within a few years the team developed an annual portfolio of honey, natural and custom-washed coffees to showcase the full spectrum of Elgon's high-elevation terroir. The naturals, in particular, can be some of the best in Africa which, with Ethiopia nearby, speaks volumes.
Sipi's dedicated staff tends to the naturals, including their quality manager, who cups and approves every lot at least once just after drying and again months later to check that the conditioning is stable. These experimental lots are beloved at Sipi Falls and, as with quality teams all over the world with a passion for the "new and delicious," are by far the most deliberated. Farmers selected for these micro-lot programs earn the highest bonuses of anyone selling cherry to Sipi Falls.
The sheer volume of quality coffee produced by this single wet mill is a testament to the truly ideal conditions of elevation, biological wealth, and human experience that abound among the farmers and Sipi Falls' management team. Its ingenious business model continues to lead in affordable, organic certified coffee of the highest quality on the continent. Sipi Falls' "naturals" are rich, concentrated and intensely complex. It is an incredible event when a prime terroir is unlocked to reveal its superior quality when just a matter of years ago it was often lost in transit.
Grower: Smallholder farmers organized around the Sipi Falls washing station