Coffee is that aroma that can nudge you back from a stupor, carry you on its wings of nostalgia, or just give you that dopamine lift that you need. A lot can happen over coffee, and yet, it is the least consumed beverage in Africa. At least that’s what statistics state.
Uganda is estimated to produce approximately 282,000 tonnes of coffee, annually. While the actual coffee consumption is pegged at about 3% of the total production. Now, if you swiped right to see what our neighbors are doing, you might find the above statistics quite abysmal.
Ethiopia not only enjoys the crown of being the birthplace of coffee, but their consumption is also fairly healthy, at 50% of their production. In our quest to discover the magic of these beans and its lackluster reception, we met Gail Mawocha from Zimbabwe, one of the few Q Graders in Africa.
What is a Q Grader, you ask?
This special tribe of people are trained to identify and differentiate coffees against a grading system, so that you can enjoy that unique cuppa! Speaking of the economics, Gail says that Uganda is amongst the top ten coffee growing countries in the world, yet coffee consumption remains low. “As consumption remains low, earnings for coffee farmers continue to diminish. This has to change for the benefit of African farmers and also for the health benefits that can be derived. There are many myths which prevent Africans from consuming coffee, and this is a tragedy. Coffee is underrated in Africa and not many realize the potential that this crop has. Coffee is our heritage and Africa has to focus on value adds and develop strategies to increase consumption locally, as well as to pass on this skill to the youth to ensure sustainability and profitability,” she says. After receiving her Barista Qualification with Africa Coffee Academy in 2018, Gail had an opportunity to open the Endiro Coffee Shop on Muyenga Tank Hill.
Thereafter, she interned at Uganda Coffee Development Authority and learnt to grade commercial coffee. This is where she took a shine to Q Grading. In 2019, after what she says was the ‘toughest exam’ she has undertaken,
she joined the league of Q Graders in Africa So what are her views on coffee found in Uganda?.
“In Uganda, one is spoilt for choice,” says Gail. “It is advisable to buy a medium roast coffee to enable the consumer to experience all the attributes. Dark roasts tend to minimize the full attributes of a good coffee. The coffee can be either natural or washed processed Arabica, or a blend of both. A blend of Robusta can also be agood choice, for those who prefer strong coffee.” While speaking of coffee attributes, one tends to assume that ‘acidity’ is not favorable! Au contraire, acidity in coffee is a good attribute and should not be confused with acid. Acidity is the brightness or zest in a coffee. It can be described as the lemony, citrus experience one gets when drinking certain coffees, particularly the washed processed Arabica coffees that fetch a premium. Other attributes that Graders assess include Fragrance/ Aroma, Body and Sweetness.
Espresso love, anyone?
Robusta might be your cup of coffee. According to Gail, Uganda is the birthplace of Robusta and as a result the country had the honor of developing the Robusta protocols, which is an international standard used for assessing
and grading Robusta coffee. “I believe the finest Robustas in the world can be found in Uganda. Robusta is often referred to as the ugly sister of Arabica, but the Robustas in Uganda, particularly the washed processed ones are of exceptional quality. Robusta is great for making espressos and the crema (thick silky froth in an espresso) makes a great cappuccino.
It has almost double the amount of caffeine which makes it the perfect pre-workout beverage, as it will result in more energy for exercising. Robusta is also great for creating blends in coffees, as it adds to the body and the rich nutty flavors add the depth of the coffee,” gushes Gail. To play her part, towards increasing domestic consumption of coffee, Gail has started Coffee