From Gerald K. Mbabazi, founder of Gorilla Summit Coffee.
"In 2012, I set off on a mission to bring specialty coffee from my village to the world. The area of Kanungu, on the western border of Uganda, and its surrounding districts has been producing coffee for generations. Historically, all of the coffee had been sold to middlemen for $0.03 – $0.05 per pound and, due to its low quality, was labeled as “non-exportable: local consumption only”.
I set out to change that.
In partnership with a few small roasters in the USA, we started by training local farmers in proper growing and harvesting techniques. Over time, our work has resulted in drastic increases in cherry quality.
We built the facility to harvest and process raw cherries into green coffee beans.
Our work is in producing coffee, however increasing quality (and therefore the price) goes far beyond coffee itself. Through the process of increasing the quality of coffee we have also addressed education, agricultural practices, social (family) dynamics, quality of living, and working infrastructure for local farmers. By addressing these issues, we are able to pay living wages to farmers and offer indirect support for our other projects such as clean well water, and higher education (building schools, even one accredited university) for the community.
We are excited by the work we’ve been doing to support the local farming community and bring high quality Uganda coffee to the world, but we are just getting started.
Cherries, Citrus, Milk Chocolate
As with all coffees processed by Gorilla Summit cherries are first floated then hand sorted prior to processing. Since this is a natural, the coffee cherries are immediately transferred to raised drying beds where they are spread in a single even layer. The cherries are continuously rotated and hand sorted through the 25 - 30 day drying period.
Kanungu is located in southwestern Uganda near the Bwindi National Forest and the Queen Elizabeth Park. These places are home to the last remaining Mountain Gorillas in Uganda and the world's only tree climbing lions.
While coffee has traditionally grown here for decades, the region is just beginning to become notarized by the world of specialty coffee. Here, good elevations of 1700 to over 2000 meters above sea level provide good growing conditions for the predominate varietal of arabica grown here, SL28.
In this district, robusta is also grown at lower elevations (1500 - 2000 MASL) and with two crops for both robusta and arabica, the district is almost always processing coffee, however arabica crops are typically in the spring and fall.
Besides these things, Kanugu district is also recognized as one of the poorest districts in all of Uganda. Gorilla Summit is currently offering four community projects to its community and members as described by them.
Select farmers were given one goat, and each new baby goat born would then be given to a neighboring farmer for free. That way, a ecosystem of small-scale goat farming is established, to provide additional income for smallholder farmers.
Community health outreach
Gorilla Summit coffee established various 'health camps' which is where farmers and their communities can get tested for all sorts of things; STDs, blood pressure, prenatal support to mention but a few. Gorilla Summit also provides water purification tablets to all the schools in the village and all the farmers we work with.
Gorilla Summit sponsors children of first generation coffee farmers to attend school and work with farmers to acquire solar lamps so that children can do their home work in good light instead of using kerosene lamps and candles which can lead to respiratory diseases.
Chicken farming program
Coffee farmers are provided with 20 chickens to start small-scale egg production of farm fresh organic eggs. There is currently a lack of supply of high quality eggs in Kampala and the Bwindi area. By providing the farmers with inputs and market access, they can earn additional income to their coffee.
Gorilla Summit Coffee