As Kenya takes their eye off the UK to focus on the US market, Uganda wants to step in and fill the void.

In the UK, tea from Kenya is widely known thanks to brands building awareness over decades. Arabica coffee, too, from the country, has had a good reputation among the speciality coffee lovers since third-wave coffee took off in early 2000.

But ask the public about coffee from Uganda, and you’re likely to get a blank face in response. Now the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) wants to change that, and the British High Commission to Uganda, Kate Airey is on board in helping expose the country’s coffee to the UK market.

Kenya has for years been predominantly selling into European countries. Germans love Kenya coffee, so much so that they were the biggest customer, drinking their way through 9,994 tonnes of coffee between 2018 and 2019.

The UK, meanwhile, just made it into the top ten on the export table with about 1,089 tonnes, while the US came in a respectable 3rd place with 6,629 tonnes.

But following a successful campaign at the Speciality Coffee Association Symposium in 2018, demand in the US for coffee from Kenya accelerated, and the positions of Germany and the US have reportedly changed, with the US now holding the top spot with orders of 9.1 million Kgs.

Checking Kenya’s Coffee Directorate website, they still show the statistics from 2018 to 2019, so it’s hard to confirm, although the report seems credible.

Kenya Coffee Export by Country - 2018/2019

No Destination Net Weight- Kg No Bags- 60kg Fob Value ($) Fob Value-Kshs %
1. 40-Germany 9,993,993.00 166,567 38,051,383.36 3,860,260,249.61 20%
2. 46-Belgium 8,986,732.79 149,779 40,952,490.13 4,178,302,430.52 18%
3. 369-United States 6,629,118.00 110,485 29,721,427.32 3,010,434,855.64 13%
4. 103-Korea, Republic Of 4,317,234.00 71,954 18,609,858.70 1,893,895,783.11 9%
5. 64-Sweden 2,869,500.00 47,825 14,057,452.78 1,433,566,322.49 6%
6. 51-Australia 1,715,206.00 28,587 9,364,017.05 956,623,777.22 3%
7. 62-Norway 1,464,440.00 24,407 9,166,611.52 928,363,081.59 3%
8. 71-Finland 1,336,500.00 22,275 5,008,849.00 508,884,482.34 3%
9. 68-United Kingdom 1,089,126.00 18,152 6,580,592.23 667,963,066.57 2%
10. 128-Romania 1,073,400.00 17,890 3,955,230.34 403,074,710.70 2%
11. 60-Japan 932,430.00 15,541 5,887,526.75 598,480,614.63 2%
12. 54-Canada 903,918.00 15,065 4,415,708.87 448,731,528.07 2%
13. 16-Mexico 880,200.00 14,670 1,129,105.34 116,016,692.53 2%
14. 63-Spain 795,600.00 13,260 3,252,408.54 330,432,628.17 2%
15. 124-Poland 787,620.00 13,127 1,363,017.84 139,704,993.10 2%
16, Others 6,825,321.10 113,758 21,701,195.50 2,206,343,373.38 14%
Total 50,600,338.89 843,339 213,216,875.27 21,681,078,589.67 100%

Uganda, Africa’s biggest coffee producer (of mostly Robusta), followed by Ethiopia, now wants to seize the opportunity to fill the gap left by Kenya in the UK, and for its part, the UK seems eager to help.

In a canny move by the UCDA, the deal will involve Uganda selling direct to the UK, allowing it to retain its label of origin and presumably, ensuring the coffee is not blended with other origins. We reported recently that this was a sore point with Hawaiian coffee, and Kenya doesn’t control their origin labels since the coffee is sold at auction.

Uganda no doubt hopes that by labelling their country of origin, they can help improve awareness among consumers.


  • Nick Baskett


    Nick Baskett is the editor in Chief at Bartalks. He holds a diploma from the Financial Times as a Non Executive Director and works as a consultant across multiple industries. Nick has owned multiple businesses, including an award-winning restaurant and coffee shop in North Macedonia.

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