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If Kenya is the elder statesman of East African coffees, Uganda is the uncle that nobody talks about. You know the guy… he got in some trouble a few years back, he’s got a history of hanging around with the wrong crowd… and if he ever got around to really coming clean, nobody’d be likely to believe it.
While Uganda rubs shoulders with big brother Kenya–in fact, it shares Mount Elgon, the origin of Bugisu–the coffee of Uganda shares little else with its neighbor. Produced mostly by small crop family farms, this coffee has flavors and dimensions that are uniquely its own.
Bugisu is a washed arabica [okay, so maybe it shares one trait with Kenya.] Even green, this bean has something to say, with a remarkably pungent and grassy aroma, simply loaded with hints of what’s to come. Once roasted it’s not a particularly fragrant coffee, and brewed it’s aromatic qualities nod more toward Centrals than other Africans. At first sip, though, everything changes….
In the cup this is a deep, dark mysterious liquor. It’s muscular, musky and oozes languidly on the tongue. Its deeper tones are bitter chocolate, its high notes ripe fruit… very ripe. It’s slightly wild, rich, fat and funky. Not the fuzzy stuff of a monsooned Malabar–it’s far too smooth for that–but still it’s earthy and intense. The Bugisu has got the body of a Java, and while its finish is long and syrupy, it is decidedly not sweet.
The roast: I’ve cupped Bugisu from City to Full City and beyond. I’ve settled on a melange of two roasts. The low notes are provided by beans roasted a bit into second crack. The brighter bits and languid mid-tones come from a roast just shy of second. Roast the darker of these two blended beans first, to provide you with the cues you’ll need to hit the cool switch the second time through.
Bugisu is a coffee that’s got the blues. It’s a soulful cup, just right for sipping when you’re in the mood for a little bit of trouble… but don’t want to stray to the wrong side of town.