The best Ugandan coffee in the UK (taste tested by RISE)

Do you love specialty coffee from Africa? We do too! Ethiopia hogs the lime light when it comes to African coffee, however Ugandan coffee is cementing its place as one of the UK's favourite coffee origins. If you want to learn more about Ugandan coffee you have come to the right place! At RISE, Alice and Ben spend their lives travelling the UK to source and taste test the best coffee they can find. We often feature Uganda coffee, especially since our visit to the country in 2023 where we met with coffee farmers in the Rwenzori Mountains. We since set up our Friendly Coffee Fund which gives back 1% of our total sales to our first project in the region, giving back to farming communities.

We thought we would shed some light on why Ugandan coffee is so good and pay homage in this blog to coffee roasters who have produced some of the best Uganda coffee we have come across (as of May 2024). 

Uganda is the 10th coffee producing region in the world, with much of the country producing the cheaper more bitter bean, Robusta. If you are interested in learning more about the difference between Arabica and Robusta you can take a look at a recent article here. However, there are emerging regions to the East and to the West of the country that produces some of the best Arabica coffee in the world. Read more here about the rise in Ugandan coffee. We recently wrote about Colombia, which is the 3rd highest coffee producing region and you can read more here

Why is Ugandan coffee so good?

The geographical position of the country on the African continent, its altitude, climate, and soil conditions paired with sustainable practices and innovative processing methods make Ugandan coffee some of the best. 

There are two main arabica coffee regions in Uganda that produce coffee, with the rest of the country producing robusta. Robusta is generally found in cheaper supermarket coffee or instant coffee. 

South

Mount Muhabura

East

Mount Elgon 

West

Rwenzori Mountains

 

You can see from the table above that Ugandan arabica coffee is grown in the higher altitude mountainous and volcanic regions. This gives Ugandan coffee its well known fruity flavours that pack a punch. 

What does Ugandan coffee taste like?

Having such a high elevation and tropical climate, Uganda has a very distinct taste.  Ugandan coffee is know for having a few characteristics and tasting notes that might help you to recognise coffee from Uganda: 

  • Berries and tropical fruits 

  • Chocolatey notes

  • Nutty caramel undertones

  • Fragrant aromas 
  • Moderate acidity - and often drawn out by a medium roast profile. 

  • Occasional hints of spice 

Now we've shared a bit of background on Ugandan coffee, let's take a look at some of our favourite coffees you can buy in the UK. 

Our best Ugandan coffee picks are:

  • Overall best Ugandan Coffee - RISE coffee box
  • Best for all round ethics - Kickstart coffee
  • Best Natural coffee - Machina coffee roasters

 

RISE COFFEE BOX SUBSCRIPTION

1. RISE COFFEE BOX - HOUSE COFFEE - Overall best Ugandan Coffee

RISE coffee box have turned from curators to creators. Alice and Ben spent a lot of time with the farmers they source directly from in The Rwenzori Mountains and 1% of all sales i give back directly to those farmers to enable their children to go to school. 

The Coffee:

  • Uganda, Ibanda Region, Rwenzori Mountains (1800-2000 masl)
  • Tasting notes: A bold, smooth deliciously chocolatey coffee with bright juicy fruits.
  • 75% washed and 25% natural coffee
  • A versatile coffee suitable for espresso and filter brewing
  • All our coffee is hand roasted weekly, on a 12kg Geisen, in Brixton
After months of research and meeting coffee farmers; We introduce our first exclusive RISE house roasted speciality coffee with 1% of all sales revenue given back to coffee growing communities. This is the perfect medium roasted coffee to fit your morning caffeine needs - suitable as espresso or filter. Bold, smooth, delicious and people friendly. 

If you would like to give it a try you can buy a bag here

    2. Kickstart coffee

    Hannah is the founder of Kickstart Coffee and has a passion for children in Uganda. Hannah has been supporting The Early Learning School, Entebbe since 2005.

    Hannah believes that education is a fundamental right, and every child, regardless of their socio-economic status, deserves the opportunity to learn and achieve their aspirations.

    Through selling quality coffee Hannah hopes to support 1000 children attend school in Uganda by 2025. We love Kickstart coffees project and Alice and Ben have visited the school in Entebbe, Uganda (see below) which was truly inspirational to see what Hannah has achieved. 

    RISE coffee box Ugandan coffee

     

    Their range of coffee comes mainly from Eastern Uganda in Mount Elgon.

    Our favourite coffee of Kickstart coffee is The Elgon Roast. We found the coffee slighter darker than we personally usually drink but really delicious and value for money at £6.95 per 250g bags. 

    If you drink coffee with milk as a flat white or a latte, this makes a great espresso based coffee for everyday coffee drinking. 

    Elgon Roast: Fueling Smiles and Futures in Uganda

    Spark dreams in every cup and empower the bright minds of Uganda with Elgon Roast, a speciality decaffeinated coffee with a conscience.

    • Speciality AA Ugandan arabica with taste notes of dried fruit, Blackcurrant & milk chocolate
    • Light / Medium roast creates a beautiful smooth and tasty coffee, ideal for filter coffee to bring out its stunning flavours
    • Strength - 3/5
    • Expertly roasted and packaged in the UK, ensuring freshness and ethical sourcing
    • Single origin: Bududa, Mount Elgon, Eastern Uganda
    • Altitude: 1,700m-2,200m above sea level
    • Process: Washed
    • Speciality Cupping Score: 86

      3. Machina Coffee- Our top pick for natural coffee 

      Michael, a man who had been engrossed in coffee since he left school and has since had numerous barista jobs and a training school for Scottish barista's, founded Machina when he was ready for a new project to work on. Michael joined forces with Steve and they found there was a rising demand for two things: "1) Coffee equipment offered from people who actually knew what they were taking about, and 2) less attitude and a more grounded approach to service"

      Today, Michael and Steve have a café, a roastery, a service area, and a quality control lab. 

      There ethos revolves around "making great coffee accessible to all"

      We have been friends with Machina for a while ad excited to have them inside an upcoming RISE coffee box (we wont tell you which one, but you will see them soon!) We absolutely love their Ugandan coffee. Nyabirongo is a well-balanced, versatile regional lot from Uganda. There are over 2700 farmers from the area who bring their ripe cherries to the coffee station for processing. Regular turning of the cherries on raised beds enable them to dry slowly and for the full flavours to be absorbed into the coffee beans. We witnessed this process first hand when we visited the area in 2023 and its great to see Machina telling the story of these farmers. 

      This coffee also comes from specialty Arabica found in The Rwenzori Mountains. This coffee is grown at slightly lower altitudes than our RISE house coffee which gives it a strong espresso body and less fruity flavours bursting through.  

      Recommended Brewing for this coffee is for espresso, Cafetiere, Stove Top, Aeropress and Drip Machine. 

      This is one of the best Ugandan coffees we have drunk and highly recommend. 

       

      4. Coaltown coffee 

      The Ugandan coffee we have picked from Welsh roaster Coaltown is called Anthracite No.2. Its the highest priced coffee on the list at £13.50 per 200g vs our house coffee at £9.35 when you subscribe. 

      The criteria for Anthracite was a juicy, fruity, natural Espresso, full of flavours you wouldn't necessarily associate with coffee.

      Tasting notes of strawberry, peach, dried fruits and honey. 

       

      5. Rounton Coffee Roasters 

      Rounton Coffee Roasters are a Yorkshire-based roastery, whose mission is to bring more accessibility to the world of specialty coffee. As with most things Yorkshire, they're a pretty straightforward bunch at Rounton Coffee Roasters. As they say, "we don't need to be the coolest, or take ourselves too seriously, so long as we're roasting dead good coffee". Their dynamic little team is fiercely passionate about coffee, people, and making positive change in the world around them. Throughout their 10 year history, they have forged close relationships with producers, and now have direct links to some of the most exciting coffee producing regions in the world. They believe that doing justice to the coffees they roast isn't just about making them taste great – it's also about giving back in a meaningful way to the places they're from. 

      Rounton coffee roasters featured in our RISE coffee box subscription in April 2023 and were loved by all. If you're not already a member of our coffee subscription club, you can join below and enjoying 35% off your first 2 boxes!

      The Ugandan coffee Rounton are currently brewing up is called Kalingwe 

      Kalingwe has a sharp orange and strawberry vibrancy with a creamy body and sweet finish.  Tasting Notes: Blood Orange  Strawberry  Honey

      Kalingwe has all the hallmarks of a great African natural - with notes of blood orange and nectarine, it's up there with the best of them.

      Kalingwe is a small community, high in the foothills of the Rwenzoris. There are 3 groups of coffee farmers within this area with a total of 107 farmers. Farmers pick their ripe red cherries as high as 2,100 metres.  They are then transported to Agri Evolves processing station at Nyabirongo. Kalingwe demonstrates clearly the high-quality, naturally processed coffee coming from the Rwenzoris.

      60p from each kilo sold goes directly to the ACE2030 project in Uganda’s Rwenzori mountains.

       

      We hope you all enjoyed reading about Ugandan coffee and we hope you found our selections useful if you are looking to buy coffee online. 


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