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Have you heard the story of Zukuka Bora? They’re doing some amazing things in the Mt Elgon coffee region! They have a really special bond with Commonfolk.They’re a social enterprise that’s all about empowering farming communities and making coffee sustainable and regenerative. Commonfolk’s initiative, The Cup That Counts, has funded Zukuka Bora’s journey from the beginning. We chuck 20 cents from every coffee we sell into the initiative and it’s helped Zukuka Bora buy demonstration farms, build processing centres, get machinery, and provide training and employment to over six coffee farming communities in Mt Elgon.

When Commonfolk helped buy the first plot of land for the demonstration farm in 2014, nobody could’ve predicted how much of an impact Zukuka Bora would have on the community. Their first official harvest in 2015 only yielded about 250kg of washed arabica coffee, which was below specialty grade and only from a small group of farmers. But, fast forward to the 2022/23 harvest, and Zukuka Bora is expecting over 400 tonnes of specialty grade cherry, with cupping scores ranging from the mid 80s all the way up to 88-89 SCA points! They’re even producing honey processed coffees, high quality naturals, and experimental lots in partnership with Commonfolk’s roasting team.

Over the last few seasons, Zukuka Bora has built a name for themselves with their experimental processing methods. They’re the only ones making honey and natural processed coffees in Uganda, and they’ve been working with extended oxygen deprived fermentation to add value to the farmer’s coffee. Their 2021 harvest produced a coffee that got the highest price in the ‘Pearl of Africa’ auction! Commonfolk’s own roastery team has been helping them run experiments using various brewers yeasts, with particular success using the yeast used to make champagne. This year, they’re even experimenting with natural fermentations mixed with local fruits like pineapple and passionfruit. Can you imagine drinking coffee that tastes like pineapple and passionfruit?

Zukuka Bora is still a young producer, but they’ve recently acquired a large plot of land in the township of Mbale. This site has the largest parabolic dryers in Eastern Uganda, adequate storage sheds, a processing and cupping lab, and even plans for a roastery café! They’ve even been able to purchase a small farm and wet mill in Sipi, thanks to donations from Australian partners. Zukuka’s commitment to their Sipi farmers is extending even further with plans to extend the washing station and incorporate new drying facilities. Zukuka hopes to grow beyond the three processing facilities they’ve already built [in Wanale, Muyanda and Sipi] and recently they've purchased land in Bududa! They’ve shown long term commitment to the communities they work with, which has helped develop trust with farmers who had lost faith in the coffee industry.

Zukuka Bora’s story is closely linked to Commonfolk’s story. It’s hard to imagine one without the other. Whenever we go back to visit the team in Uganda, it’s like being welcomed home. We’ve even hosted the directors of Zukuka Bora, Vinnie Munyosi, Robby Keen and Dave Bishop at Commonfolk a number of times. In 2020, we launched an award named in honour of our great mate and massive supporter of Commonfolk, Mark Brown. The award is presented to the Commonfolk team member who best demonstrates our values of quality, people and pioneering. Each year the winner gets to travel to Uganda and witness first hand the impact that coffee is having on the communities