Magical Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mghinga National Park in SW Uganda are UNESCO designated World Heritage sites in our corner of Africa, the South-west region of Kigezi, Uganda, and that is where our farmers live, growing the highest quality arabica coffee in family-owned farms at elevations of 1800 – 2300 meters, in rich earthy volcanic and loamy soils.
Gorilla Highlands Coffee is based in the equatorial Kigezi Province of south west Uganda. In this lush country of clear lakes, thickly forested islands and misted mountains, we cultivate predominantly Arabica Bourbon beans, cupping at 85.4. Growing our coffee here, at an altitude of 1500 to 2500 meters, provides the perfect temperature and humidity for coffee of exquisite texture and flavour – a great combination of aroma and aftertaste that results in one of the most valued coffee bouquets.
We also offer a unique Highlands Robusta coffee – a species which is endemic to the Kigezi region, a gift from the Gorilla Highlands Kingdom that is majestic, smooth and bold, just like the Silverback Gorillas that inhabit the region. With an exclusive season, this coffee is available as micro-lots from January through to April.
Our red cherry coffees are handpicked, floated in water, sorted, pulped, fermented and washed then dried under shade on drying racks, while “naturals” are dried directly on the sun.
Our story is one of a farming collective, 1500-strong with 60% of women involved, where our coffee is grown on mixed crop farms – part of our sustainability and farm management programme. Food crops such as beans, maize, bananas and avocado are grown for home consumption, allowing our farmers to sustain their local food security while obtaining additional income from coffee cultivation. Planting of Ficus natalensis is an important part of our drought management because it holds water during the rainy season and then releases it during drought. It also provides fibre that can be used to make clothing, is an excellent habitat for beehives and also has medicinal properties. Bamboo provides building materials for the farms. These mixed crops also provide the shade cover that ensures sustainable coffee production.
But our story is not only about exquisite coffee, grown to sustain and develop communities. We are privileged to be in the World’s best location to encounter the majestic and critically endangered Mountain Gorilla. Previously, poaching and habitat destruction, both driven by poverty, were the root causes of this extinction. Gorilla Highlands Coffee has been pivotal in reversing the decline. People who hitherto relied on poaching, and harvesting crops and materials from the gorilla forest habitats, are now our farmers. As a direct result, gorilla numbers have increased from 800 to 1200 (2019 gorilla census), tourism has increased and the relationship between the wildlife and the community is stronger than ever – all because of our coffee!
Coffee from the Gorilla Kingdom – the best taste of Uganda!