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Who grows our coffee: Great Lakes Coffee Company, Uganda

Volcano supports sustainable livelihoods in Uganda through Great Lakes Coffee Company.

In November 2019, Nick and Anna travelled to Uganda to visit the people who grow the coffee you drink in our Firehouse and Crisis Coffee blends.

Guided by Andy, whose family founded the Great Lake Coffee Company over 60 years ago, they travelled south from Kampala along the Kasenyi Channel, east to Kasese, and north to Fort Portal.  

The farming and producing communities in Uganda are challenged by a recent decrease in world coffee prices, and are increasingly asking themselves how long they can absorb these low coffee prices before they switch to a more profitable crop?

That's where Great Lakes Coffee step in, championing education and training and stable pricing with quality-based premiums. Great Lakes Coffee give Ugandan coffee farming families access to higher levels of income, profits which can be reinvested into their communities, and simultaneously are improving the quality of Ugandan specialty coffee. 

Sustainable Livelihoods

The majority of Ugandan farming families grow a variety of crops on their land as well as raising livestock. The Great Lakes Coffee are invested in helping smallholders and household coffee producers achieve greater profits from their coffee and, by offering quality-based bonuses on top of a stable baseline price, encourage them to grow higher-quality coffee.


Social Progress

Great Lakes Coffee teach basic maths to farm owners to help them manage their businesses, and sell farming tools at reduced prices to help farming families grow crops of all varieties on their land. By teaching simple calculations, like the yield potential of a coffee crop, the farmers can determine the profit that they can make from their plants and make investments into growing more coffee on the family farm.

Potential yield calculations from a Great Lakes Coffee farmer

Environmental Sustainability

Great Lakes ensure that their farmers follow responsible farming practices by adhering to the Rainforest Alliance's sustainable agriculture standards, as well as their own local accreditation system MaxTRACE. These guidelines dictate that biodiversity must be protected on their farms and that natural resources are conserved, while also protecting the workers.

For example, Great Lakes have invested in water purifying systems at their centralised receiving and washing stations, so that waste water can be treated before being reused by the community or reintroduced to the ecosystem.

Try these farmers' coffee for yourself - every cup of Firehouse coffee you drink, and every bag of Crisis Coffee you buy, supports Great Lakes Coffee's work in Uganda.

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