Bourbon Barrel provided by: Oola Distillery (Cap Hill - Seattle)
Producer group: Owemba Micro-Washing station members
Region: Kasese District, Western Uganda
Altitude: 1400 - 2000 masl
Processing: Fully washed
Drying Method: Raised African beds undercover
Harvest Period: September - Jan (main), March – May (fly
Varietals/Cultivators: Nyasaland, SL 14, SL 28
Certification: FLO, EU & NOP Organic
Flo ID: 24367
Tasting notes: Rich whiskey aroma with flavor notes of vanilla, complex tannins, and chocolate.
In Solidarity with Bukonzo Joint Cooperative Union (Kasese, Uganda)
Climate change continues to hit farmers around the world hard. Floods caused by unusual rain patterns have severely damaged many farmers in Western Uganda and Congo earlier this year. Bukonzo Joint Cooperative Union (BJCU) from Western Uganda is among the affected. They lost a significant amount of their harvest as well as essential coffee processing equipment.
Boon Boona Coffee and Atlas Coffee importers are collaborating to support BJCU’s recovery from the disaster and to promote their quality product: Owemba.
Bukonzo Joint has been setting the standards for both coffee quality and coffee cooperative management in Western Uganda for a decade. They began as a rural micro-finance society in 1996 and have grown into a Union with 5,500 farmers and 72 producer groups. They started to grow specialty coffee in 2010/2011. The benefits of producing high-quality coffee was embraced by most of the members quickly and now the Union has 20 micro-washing stations that produce some of the best coffee in Uganda.
Atlas Coffee Importers has been partnering with Bukonzo Joint for a decade. Two groups worked closely to set up BJCU’s Quality Control lab in 2015 and Drew Billups (Head of Education and QC at Atlas Coffee) personally trained the lab staff. It didn’t take much for BJCU to find their element, and to become an inclusive farmers cooperative. They developed pictorial presentations of the practices at the washing station so the illiterate farmers are also included in the communication. The same year they founded their QC lab, they also implemented an inclusive methodology to run the cooperative: Gender Action Learning System (GALS). This method ensures not only equal participation of women and men in the decision-making process but also in deciding the long-term goals for the group.
Having established their QC lab and their inclusive management method, BJCU and Atlas Coffee partnered up to organize cupping competitions in Uganda to acknowledge the cooperative’s quality coffee and present them to the roasters and other buyers. In February, they held the 6th edition of the competition which was done simultaneously in Seattle and Kasese for the first time. Boon Boona Coffee was honored to be in the judge committee in Seattle where we had a hard time to decide which lot was better than the others, because they were all beautiful. The competition was the perfect environment to connect with some of the members of the cooperative, to learn more about the groups’ story and their plans for the future.
Shortly after this competition, we received the sad news that BJCU was hit by unusually heavy rains and have lost most of their current crop and precious coffee processing equipment. We love what BJCU stands for and how they improve the livelihoods of their community. We wanted to put our hand out and support this producer group. Atlas Coffee had already launched a crowdfunding initiative. We wanted to support the cooperative through a different channel where we would be able to connect the farmer community with our own community (i.e. you). Having explored different alternatives, Boon Boona and Atlas Coffee decided to donate $1 for every pound of BJCU green coffee we buy. In other words, the more Owemba you buy, the more funds we can send back to BJCU to assist with their recovery efforts.