Region: Kasese District, Western Uganda
Producer Type: Cooperative (Bukunzo Joint Cooperative Union) - 4900 Members
Altitude: 1400-2000 masl
Genetic Varietals: Nyasaland, SL 14, SL 28
Processing: Micro-washing Stations
Drying Method: Raised African Beds Under Cover
Notes: Sweet Grape, Walnut and some vegetal elements, mild acidity, medium body
Certifications: FLO, EU and NOP Organic, Fairtrade
Bukonzo Joint Cooperative Union began as a rural micro-finance society in 1999 and has evolved into a well-regarded Union of 5,500 farmer members within 72 producer groups, organized into 9 primary societies, producing some of the best coffee in the region.
During the 2010/2011 crop year, the cooperative began constructing the first washing stations in the area to try to produce a better quality coffee that would return more value to the farmers. This idea spread throughout the membership, and there are now over 20 micro-washing stations producing fully washed coffee that is very well regarded by specialty buyers in the US and around the world.
In order to retain as much of the control (and profit) of the supply chain as possible, the group has invested in setting up their own central milling, hulling, sorting, and storage facilities. In 2015 Bukonzo Joint and a number of clients decided to jointly fund the building, outfitting, and initial training for an on-site cupping lab. Four BJCU staff spent a week training on the basics of lab management and organization, sample roasting, and cupping.
One of the reasons BJCU has been so successful is their use of an inclusive methodology, called GALS (Gender Action Learning Systems), in all of their activities, to ensure equal participation by both men and women in the coffee value chain and in their decision-making from the household through to the cooperative level. In 2015, BJCU won the SCAA Sustainability Award for this work.