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Please Note This coffee landed more than 8 months ago.
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This is a centrally processed natural coffee from Mt. Elgon, Uganda, produced by farmers organized around Mountain Harvest. It is certified organic.
The flavor profile is dense and lush, characterized by juicy raspberry notes, a dark chocolate structure, and sweetness like hard candy.
Our roasters found the coffee’s high density to require a little extra energy early in the roast.
When brewed, our barista team enjoyed the cleanliness of thick-filtered pour-overs and saw lots of potential for delicious cold brew options.
Taste Analysis by Chris Kornman
Unshy about its character, this natural process leans in on the fruits and reminded us ever so slightly of the sweetness and unique flavors sometimes present in carbonic maceration style processing methods.
Lush raspberry notes were the most common among our team, with a solid dark chocolaty structure and plenty of unique supporting flavors. We noted hints of spice like ginger, sugar browning notes ranging from candy-like to molasses, and hints of processing flavors ranging from bubble gum to rum cake and even bourbon.
It’s a juicy cup and will undoubtedly turn the heads of cuppers looking for unique combinations of flavors; enjoyable on its own and certain to inspire numerous iterations of signature drinks with its strong character and undeniable cocktail-like flavor profile.
Source Analysis by Charlie Habegger
Mount Elgon is a massive peak split nearly in two by the border of Uganda and Kenya. The “mountain” itself, now an extinct shield volcano, is more an enormous expanse of successive plateaus that float dramatically above the surrounding valley floor. It is also home to a dense patchwork of farming communities growing some of the best organic coffee in Africa.
Mountain Harvest is a very young and big-thinking group, first established in 2017. The company is dedicated to long-term economic and environmental sustainability for smallholders on Mt. Elgon. Farmers in the upper elevations of Mt. Elgon are among Uganda’s highest anywhere, while still maintaining strikingly diversified farms with incredible quality potential thanks to the climate, soil fertility, and a longstanding culture of land stewardship, but who historically struggle to meet specialty standards by processing coffee in tiny amounts on homemade equipment.
In an effort to raise the economic standard in remote coffee-growing Elgon communities, Mountain Harvest began as an impact investing project underwritten by Lutheran World Relief (LWR). It has expanded in just a few years to include farmer education and training, central processing infrastructure, storage facilities throughout the region, detailed quality control, and international marketing. As of this year Mountain Harvest works with 850 individual smallholders across 8 communities on Mt. Elgon, with each farm growing between 600-1,000 coffee trees. And their coffee stands up to the best fully washed Uganda arabicas we typically taste all year.
The vast majority of coffee managed by Mountain Harvest is traditionally processed by farmers at home and delivered as parchment. This coffee, however, is a centrally-processed, natural microlot from select communities within Mountain Harvest’s farmer network: fresh picked cherry was transported directly from select farms in sealed drums to an experimental processing site constructed by Mountain Harvest near their headquarters in Mbale, where it dried in larger, carefully-controlled volume on raised beds, all of which is overseen by Mountain Harvest’s processing manager, Ibra Kiganda. Centralized processing is ubiquitous across East Africa but in Uganda it is still rare, where collecting low-quality, often still humid, parchment from smallholders is the norm. While Mountain Harvest has had great success training their farmer base to home-process to excellent standards, the central-processing microlots are an attempt to elevate cup profiles even more through greater control.
Over the course of a full harvest coffees are built into blended containers, single-community lots, experimental centrally processed lots like this one, and single-delivery microlots for sale. Mountain Harvest’s minimum pricing is 10-30% above local market prices. Unlike other regional buyers who exclusively process centrally or buy lower grade smallholder parchment, Mountain Harvest invests in farmers’ capacity to produce high-specialty cherry or fully dried parchment coffee within their own resources, helping them maximize their margin when they sell.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
A fragrant green coffee, with immediate aromatic clues that it’s a natural process, this Uganda shows a handful of pale-colored beans like we occasionally see in anaerobic-style fermentations, possibly the result of the journey from farm to wet mill inside sealed barrels.
Much like its counterparts, this Mountain Harvest centrally processed lot comes to us with very high density, solid and stable moisture readings, and a well-graded screen selection from 16-18 sizes.
Classic Ugandan cultivars grown here by local smallholders include SL14, the preferred Scott Labs iteration, first selected in Kenya in 1936 for its tolerance to drought. It’s a Typica type plant, per genetic testing as stated by World Coffee Research. The Nyasaland selection dates back even farther, to Typica introduced to Malawi (formerly known as Nyasaland) from Jamaica in 1878. It’s known locally in Uganda as “Bugisu.”
Production Roast: Diedrich IR-5 Analysis by Doris Garrido
One thing to notice about this roast trial is that I have a deep connection with some Uganda Naturals. During the beginning of the pandemic it was an Uganda natural that changed my view on coffee, and since then I am continuously in search of that taste. What I mean is that I was so excited to do this roast and I chose to do it after four other roasts in order to be on the most control of the roaster drum as is possible, and after roasting other different Ugandas, in other words I practiced first, and used that information to nail it!
Yes, It was great and tasty. I couldn’t wait and I cupped right away after I finished the roast. First thing, the coffee was clean! Grape flavored hard candy, like jolly ranchers. But that was only my first notes. Let’s talk about the roast and I will share the notes from all four cuppers at the table the next day.
751 grams per liter of density! I actually ran the Sinar a couple of times, I wanted to make sure that number was real. 10.4% moisture content and the beans size ranking most of them in between 16 and 17 screen sizes. I wanted to charge at around 440F/100% but I needed to be careful and make some gas adjustments to control the roast because this coffee seemed to fly away very easily. As I have been doing lately, I was guided by exhaust temperature. At 418F marked 70% and when I noticed that it was starting to rise again (minute 3:40/302.8 F) I moved to 45% almost immediately to mark the lowest 30%. I got more than enough power through Maillard, first crack and kill the burners 30 seconds after first crack. I used the air on the basics, around 360 F 50% and 100% after the first crack and that was enough. Clean, raspberry, a little bitter finish, banana, berries, blackberry jam, bubble gum, candy-like, floral, grapes flavored candy, hard candy, juicy, lavender, milk chocolate, ripe strawberries, slightly tart. The repetitive notes: clean, candy, berries. Great natural coffee!
Aillio Bullet R1 IBTS Analysis by Evan Gilman
Unless otherwise noted, we use both the roast.world site and Artisan software to document our roasts on the Bullet. You can find our roast documentation below, by searching on roast.world, or by clicking on the Artisan links below.
Generally, we have good results starting our 500g roasts with 428F preheating, P6 power, F2 fan, and d6 drum speed. Take a look at our roast profiles below, as they are constantly changing!
Doris let me know that the next few coffees from Uganda are extremely dense. Much like her, I decided to hit these with more power than usual due to their extraordinary density. This natural version in particular was an absolute pleasure to roast, and was unintuitively the easiest of the three in terms of handling. I’m used to honing my hawk eye on natural process coffees, but this one was just a peach.
With a charge temperature of 455F, P8 power, and the usual F2 fan, my plan was to bring heat to this coffee early in the roast and allow it to develop without too much interference, only reducing heat application and increasing fan speed as the roast moved forward. At Turning Point, I reduced heat to P7 and increased airflow to F3 to begin the drawdown from my peak RoR of 34F/min, which came a bit after my adjustments. At 315F I reduced heat application further to P6, then increased fan speed to F4 shortly after Yellowing. Much like my roast of the Uganda Honey Process, I reduced heat application to P5 at 360F. All these moves had the desired effect of bringing this tasty coffee through Maillard and into First Crack gently but firmly. While there was a small peak in RoR before First Crack, it was nothing compared to the Washed or Honey versions of this coffee! I spent 1:13, or 12% of time in Post-Crack Development to get some of those tasty sugars we all love, and was able to do so without exceeding 396F. I spent a whopping 52% of this roast in Maillard, and the sugars were there to prove it.
This was, while certainly a divisive coffee, my favorite of the three lots from Uganda due to this roast. Merlot wineyness, sweet raisin, Turkish delight confection sweetness, and a curious herbal note not unlike Fernet Branca made this a complex and incredibly enjoyable natural coffee. I can imagine that a roast spending proportionally more time in Green/Drying would have more bright, berry-forward notes, and may perform remarkably well as a filter drip. This roast, I’d drink any which way.
There’s a lot of flexibility in how you could roast this coffee. Choose your own adventure, and I’m sure you’ll have an enjoyable time!
Brew Analysis by MJ Smith
Let me just start by saying this Mountain Harvest Natural Uganda really packs a punch, both aromatically and in flavor! As soon as we opened the bag, my olfactories were enveloped with expressive notes of blackberry and chocolatey mole sauce. I was lucky enough to also try this coffee in a cupping, and it was by far my favorite on the table. After several different brews, we found that the thicker filter used for the P90 brewer by Saint Anthony Industries really helped bring forth a delightfully clean cup.
For my first brew, I used a dose of 19g and the V60 brewer, because I could tell this natural coffee was going to be a little more on the wild side and thought the cleanliness usually associated with the V60 would bring out some of that natural sweetness. This resulted in a brew that was ever-so-slightly on the bitter side due to some overextraction that I assumed was from too fine of a grind, but still had some tasty notes of dark chocolate, raspberry, and juniper berry. After that, I tried a lower dose (18g) and coarser grind (7), and used the P90 brewer, but that may have been a bit overkill, because the brew lost a little bit of the sweetness from before.
I then pulled out the adorable Beehouse brewer and brought the dose back up to 19g, but kept the grind at 7. This one brewed a lot faster than the first two, finishing at 3:00, but still had some tasty notes of nectarine, pecan, and cacao nibs. I was determined to get *the perfect brew* so I tried one more on the P90, with the dose still at 19g and the grind at 7. This was it! It was the perfect blend of bright cherry juiciness with some warm molasses and brown sugar undertones. I could happily sip on this coffee all autumn long.
When brewing this coffee, I would recommend using something with a slightly thicker filter, such as the P90 or a Chemex, and a ratio of 15.79/1. I also think this coffee would really shine as a nitro cold brew! Something tells me the combination of the cherry and molasses notes with the creamy foaminess of the nitro would be a match made in coffee heaven! Enjoy!