Ron’s Beans Uganda Gibuzale

posted in: 2017, reviews | 0

Ron’s Beans are going to get us through Hump Day, my friends. Actually, that sentence seems like it could go in a lot of weird directions, but have no fear, in this case I’m talking about Ron’s coffee beans and this month’s special coffee for subscribers from Uganda. I’ve only had one other coffee from Uganda, so I’m excited to get into this relatively untapped origin with a new-to-me roaster! Ron actually sent me two extra bags of this same coffee and so I’m going to do a giveaway for KC Coffee Geek readers/followers. Head over to my Instagram and find the details there! This is going to be a super-fast giveaway, closing on Thursday (tomorrow), so don’t delay!

Ron’s Beans website

Ron’s Beans Coffee Club


We saw what good quality sourcing and roasting can do for “charity coffee” yesterday with the Agape Roasting Project and, not on purpose, we have another roaster that started as a charity, too, Ron’s Beans. Ron’s Beans is named after Ron Martin, who has been roasting coffee for about five years. Ron started out using coffee sales as a way to support the Make A Wish Foundation. At least 15% of everything you buy from Ron’s Beans (coffee, merch, whatever) goes to the Make A Wish Foundation. Pretty cool! Ron roasts in Portage, Michigan, which is south of Kalamazoo in southwest Michigan, a part of the state that’s very near and dear to my heart as I lived not too far away in Holland, MI for seven years. Ron’s Beans are carried by quite a few stores and wholesale accounts around that area and it’s nice to be able to support a company with a mission like this, but again, KC Coffee Geek is all about the coffee and so charity coffee is cool, but the question is whether the charity or the coffee is in the driver’s seat, from the perspective of the consumer.

One of the things Ron does is a monthly subscription and he sent me this month’s subscribers-only coffee from Uganda. I’m not sure if these subscriber coffees come into the by-the-bag rotation at some point, which I hope they do so you can experience this coffee whether you want a sub or not. Nonetheless, this coffee is from the Gibuzale washing station which sits in the Arabica coffee growing area on the slopes of Mt. Elgon (probably the same basic area where the other Ugandan coffee I’ve had is from). The variety in this lot is Bugisu, which is also the name of the tribe that does a lot of the growing and harvesting of coffee in this area around Mt. Elgon. Coffee grows around 1700-2200masl there and this is a washed coffee. The average coffee farm in that area is around 2.2 acres and so like in much of Africa, smallholder farmers work in collectives with washing stations to pool their coffees into larger lots like this. Coffee is Uganda’s top-earning export crop and probably an origin that is going to continue to grow and produce some really nice scoring cups. A lot Ugandan coffee is Robusta species and not Arabica, but with some better infrastructure there’s no reason Uganda couldn’t be right up there with the rest of eastern Africa’s coffee legends like Kenya and Ethiopia.

Ron gives us tasting notes of, “apple, caramel and citrus” for this coffee. I am using my standard 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino dripper with Kalita 185 filter. I’m using Third Wave Water and a Handground grinder set to 3. Aroma from this coffee is slightly roasty, a little nutty and with lots of dark caramelized sugars. Visually I’d say Ron gave this coffee a “medium” roast. Nice color on the beans and they look well-developed but there is no oil pooling on the beans or much oil shine to them, so right in the pocket for what specialty coffee drinkers tend to like to see, for the most part. The roast looks great. The first thing that came into my head when I opened this bag of coffee up is that old Bush’s baked beans ad with the guy that says, “Roll that beautiful bean footage.” LOL It’s a nice-looking coffee with plenty of big, fat peaberries in the mix.

I’d call this a medium-full bodied coffee. It has a nice weight and density on my palate with a silky, almost milky/creamy mouthfeel. Lots of caramel sweetness in the cup with red apple sweetness and acidity (malic acid is the acid you’ll find in both coffee and apples, so a lot of coffees give off an apple vibe). In the second half of the sip I am getting some citrusy notes that hit the sides of my tongue. Definitely not lemon or lime… that citrus acidity is more like an orange juice flavor and feel the way it spreads to the outside of my palate. It seems to both add some sweetness to this already sweet coffee but also balance it with its acidity, too. That acidity and sweetness in the second half of the cup is borderline like the tomato note I’ll get from some Kenyan coffees. It’s not quite there, but the image of tomatoes did jump into my mind when that citrus component lit up my palate. Tomato sounds like a weird descriptor for coffee and it’s usually only a feature of Kenyan coffees for the most part in my experience. It’s a flavor component that is sweet, acidic and a little savory. When you get a really tomatoey coffee it is unmistakeably like drinking tomato juice and this coffee is not that, but it has a teeny bit of tomato, to my palate. With some of my sips I caught a little hint of coconut in the finish of the cup and there is a roasted nut tone that carries into the finish and aftertaste, too. Even though this is a light-medium roast, there are some roast notes in the flavor, too. They work well with this coffee, which has such a “warm” and inviting vibe to begin with. I know there are coffee drinkers who barely want the beans to hit the roaster, much less develop any roast notes, but I’m not one of those guys and I quite like the roast notes that are in this Gibuzale coffee.

This is a great cup! Another charity coffee that doesn’t forget you need good coffee to sustain the support of the charity! This is a sweet cup there is nice balance from the apple and citrus acidity. It’s not super complex but it makes up for that by being juicy and super easy to drink and there are some notes to chase down if you care to like I did above. It’s a clean cup, well-roasted, and just a super “warm” and “inviting” and “familiar” cup, which is nice for a morning cup. Great!