Photographer: Trevor Snapp/Bloomberg

Starbucks Is Making Africa's Biggest Coffee Exporter Even Richer

  • Single-origin sales to Starbucks to boost farmers' earnings
  • Uganda may increase coffee exports to 6 million bags in 2020

Ugandan coffee sold as single-origin beans by Starbucks Corp. will boost earnings for Africa’s biggest exporter of the crop, the country’s industry regulator said.

Coffee growers may as much as double their prices because of the high quality demanded by the world’s biggest coffee-shop chain, Henry Ngabirano, managing director of Uganda Coffee Development Authority, said Monday in an interview in the capital, Kampala.

“It is extremely exciting that Ugandan coffee is occupying Starbucks’ shelves,” he said. “We are going to have more coffee earnings and improve farmers’ incomes.”

Starbucks is marketing Uganda’s single-origin coffee from the eastern Mount Elgon region under the name "Sipi Falls,” which is an important growing area, Ngabirano said. Single-origin coffee beans have a distinct flavor because they are cultivated from one geographical location, which has unique climate, elevation and soil conditions, according to Starbucks.

Starbucks is the first big chain to sell Ugandan beans as single origin although smaller stores in Europe and America have stocked them for years, Ngabirano said.

Sustainable Coffee

At least 10 percent of Uganda’s coffee is certified as sustainable, he said.

Uganda, which grows both robusta and arabica varieties, may increase shipments to 6 million, 60-kilogram bags in 2020 from 3.4 million projected for the 12 months through this September, after increasing plantings of disease-resistant varieties and boosting productivity, Ngabirano said. The nation consumes about 5 percent of its annual crop, he said.

Coffee exports are the nation’s biggest foreign-exchange earner after tourism and remittances from Ugandans living abroad, he said. The crop fetched $349 million from 2.85 million bags sold in the first 10 months of this coffee year, the authority said on Aug. 25.

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