Harris & James Cacao Bean Origins and Traceability - Uganda

Landlocked, ethnically diverse and home to half of the world’s gorillas…Uganda, bursting with flora and fauna, provides the ideal climate for growing cocoa beans for great tasting Ugandan Chocolate. The beans thrive under shades and consistent rainfall, which is more than abundant in the country’s growing regions. Cocoa in Uganda was first introduced during the British colonial era nearly 100 years ago, but neglect and lack of finance affected the sector in the 1970s and 1980s. Cocoa has since made a comeback and has grown to be a significant source of income for thousands of rural, smallholder farmers in Uganda.

Development and production have mostly been focused in one region, the Bundibugyo district in western Uganda, which produces more than 70% of cocoa for Ugandan Chocolate. The beans are produced by approx. 3,500 smallholder, organic cocoa farmers, over half of whom are women, in cooperation with a local social enterprise.

In Uganda, cocoa is ranked the fourth-biggest commodity export after coffee, tea and fish. Today, the country ranks amongst the top 20 cocoa exporters in the world. Following some focused investments, more and more craft chocolate makers are uncovering the expert flavour potential of Ugandan chocolate. 

Origin Spotlight


This cocoa is grown by approx. 600 smallholder farmers united in one of the first cacao cooperatives (Bundikakemba Cocoa Growers Association BGCSL) of the Bundibugyo region. They were able to differentiate the cacao from the bulk market and directly export cocoa without any local middlemen involvement. Member farmers benefit from centralised handling of their cacao harvest to develop a unique flavour profile with notes of roasted hazelnut and sesame combined with the sweetness of dates and toffee. This variety really is a crowd pleaser and ideal for those with a sweet tooth, as well as any nut lovers amongst us.  

The BGCSL has been in existence since 2015 and is considered one of the best managed in Uganda. Most recently (2021), with the support of the International Trade Centre (ITC), they’ve been focusing on the quality improvement and flavour diversification of their cacao. Today, BGSCL provides approx. 610 smallholder farms the opportunity to improve their standard of living, which includes guaranteeing free, proper education for all of its members children (in a country where over half the population are under 16). Sente has been carefully selected by SILVA, with the grower’s society holding fairtrade, rainforest and organic certification.  

  • Variety: blend of Trinitario and Forastero types
  • Flavour: roasted hazelnuts, sesame, yellow fruits, toffee and dates
  • Fermentation: per-drainage, 6 days in wooden boxes, 2 turns 
  • Drying: sun-drying on concrete floor 
  • Harvest: September-April 

Cacao Traceability 

Something that sets Harris & James above other artisan chocolate makers is our dedication to bean to bar chocolate making. This means that every cacao bean we use is 100% traceable. Sente is produced, processed and packed in 60kg bags at the cooperative and transported by truck to Kampala, where it is consolidated and shipped to our site in Suffolk to be made into our Ugandan chocolate.

Buying direct from the farmers not only means that they get an above market price for their cacao, promoting great quality, but also means we get the freshest beans which can then be roasted low and slow and batch cooked to release the amazing flavours which are unique to Ugandan chocolate.