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
The roast: I've
cupped Bugisu from City to Full City and beyond. I've settled on a mélange
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.
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.