At 1250 masl, the Sironko Coffee washing station sits in a unique location to accommodate arrivals from higher altitude farms up to 1850m along the slopes of Mt Elgon. Mt Elgon is an extinct volcano on the border with Kenya and is thought to be the oldest volcano on the African continent. The massive base and gentle slopes support thousands of smallholder farmers, with arabica coffee is cultivated across a broad band around the mountain between 1,200 and 2,200masl. Volcanic soils, plentiful rain, high altitude and abundant sunshine are all contributing factors to the excellent terroir of the Mt Elgon region and the subsequent exceptional cup quality.
Selectively hand-picked cherries arrive at Sironko Washing Station where they are subjected to quality and weight tests. Automatic floatation separates the cherries by density into 3 quality grades, with the densest cherries representing the highest quality. The selected cherries are then mechanically depulped and demucilaged. Farmers are trained to decompose the discarded pulp and use as composite fertilizer, while waste water is treated on site and used for plantain crops and demo-farms in the local area. The wet parchment is then mechanically dried. A variety of drying chambers and carefully regulated temperatures help maintain the quality of the coffee throughout this process. The first chamber consists of water drainage (skin drying) and lasts approximately 7 hours. This helps to eliminate any chance of quality deterioration associated with traditional fermentation & sun-drying. It takes between 21 and 48 hours total to dry the wet parchment to recommended moisture level of 12%.