12 oz valve bag
Producer: Bukonzo Joint Cooperative Union
Elevation: 1,400-2,000 masl
Varietal: Nyasaland, SL-14, SL-28
Wet Mill: Kyalhumba Micro Washing Station
Dry Mill: BJCU Central Dry Mill
Blackberry, Plum, Rose
In January of 2020, we had the pleasure and honor of visiting the Bukonzo Joint Cooperative Union in Uganda. While there, we - along with a handful of others - explored the landscape and some of the farms and washing stations, and sampled a table full of over a dozen offerings from the BJCU’s washing stations. At that time, we committed to buying some of their coffees, and thus began our relationship with the BJCU.
This year, we attended a virtual cupping, where we chose two more coffees from two different washing stations.
Every year, the BJCU makes improvements to their equipment, infrastructure, and methods of operation. One of their core values is gender equality, and while there, we were able to participate in part of their program known as GALS - Gender Active Learning System. In the portion we participated in, we were tasked with drawing a vision journey. In a vision journey, you draw your current situation, your goal or ideal situation, your current opportunities and resources that will help you achieve that goal, the challenges to meeting that goal and the specific milestones or big actions you will take to achieve that goal. Then we all shared and discussed. What we found was that we had commonalities in all steps along the way - risk mitigation, transparency, and trust. Along with these commonalities, the overarching theme we discovered with producers was the importance they placed on being able to educate their future generations.
Today BJCU has 15 micro washing stations throughout the Rwenzori mountains, one central dry mill, and 1,700 members. Each micro washing station services 100-200 members, who rotate managing the washing station and use small pulpers to depulp coffee cherries before dry fermenting in buckets for 12-13 hours, bucket wash the mucilage off, and dry the parchment on raised beds for 3-4 weeks until it reaches 12% moisture (a formidable task given that coffee harvest is during rainy season). The efforts have paid off, with the top lots in the microlot competition achieving scores of 86+.
Members of the BJCU have access to financing, an outfitted quality control lab funded jointly by BJCU and Atlas Coffee Importers, and gender-inclusive methodology of operations.