FNB Creative Coffee Week wrapped up in Durban on Saturday, 29 June with participants from the coffee industry committed to improving the lives of baristas, coffee farmers and roasters.
Over 250 of the coffee industry’s top influencers met in Durban for three days to workshop the significant issues in coffee, while learning about global trends and practices from some of the globe’s best coffee professionals. These workshops and interactions were arranged to bridge the gap between South Africa and leading coffee nations in terms of standards and trends.
Among the invited guests were Ethiopian coffee producer, Tesfaye Bekele Degaga, from Suke Quto Farm; four-time Irish Barista Champion and bestselling author of ‘What I Know About Running Coffee Shops’, Colin Harmon; and Trish Rothgeb, CEO of Wrecking Ball Coffee in San Francisco.
Colin Harmon who has sold over 22 000 copies of his bestseller, impressed on the delegates the need for balance: “Nothing is ever going to be perfect. There won’t be a perfect space, there will be sacrifice. And, whatever you do, do it properly. Learn about balance and from there, you grow.”
One of the commitments made at the FNB Creative Coffee Week was to tackle improving barista wages in South Africa, based on experience and qualifications.
Iain Evans, publisher of Coffee Magazine, said: “We have committed to build an online tool called the Barista Wage Calculator, based on the internationally-acclaimed Living Wage Calculator. This will basically help employers and baristas determine what a fair, living wage is for each individual employed in the coffee industry.”
One of the other fiercely debated topics was that of paying higher prices to coffee producers at a farm level, to increase cup quality and secure future crops in the face a global coffee price crisis.
Commenting on this topic, Ethiopian coffee farmer, Tesfaye Bekele Degaga, said: “All coffee is special by its nature. You and your customers in your café ensure that by paying a good price for a cup of coffee, we can continue to invest in our people and our coffee.”
The FNB Creative Coffee Week culminated in the FNB Coffee Magazine Awards’ Gala Dinner at the Waterfront Hotel in Durban on Saturday, 29 June where 14 awards were presented for excellence in the coffee industry.
The FNB Creative Coffee Week was established to recognise excellence within the local coffee industry while seeking innovative ways to grow and reach new members. In 2019, this was achieved by expanding the coffee footprint and promoting career opportunities in KwaMashu, a dynamic township community located in the Durban area.
Talks and tasting sessions were held at The Flava Club. In attendance were Philisile Mdabe – Head Barista Trainer at Ciro Beverage Solutions – and Johnson Sehoro – former gardener turned coffee champion and business owner.
Located in a container at a busy KwaMashu taxi rank, Flava Club is owned and run by the enigmatic Jabuh Mbhele.
“It is great to have people from FNB, Innovate Durban and Creative Coffee Week come to see what we are doing with coffee in the township,” commented Mbele. “We need support from business, we need people to teach us about running our shops and we need inspiration from people like Philisile Mdabe and Johnson Sehoro.
Sehoro, who has been working in the coffee industry for 15 years, said: “You have to work hard and be ready to learn all about this wonderful bean. There are so many opportunities, and the big growth in coffee will come from the townships. These are the business owners of the future if we can reach them and inspire them.”
After enjoying coffees at Flava Club, Sehoro and Mdabe shared their personal stories with the audience about life in the township and making careers out of coffee.
Mdabe then led a short training session on the initial steps to becoming a barista, explaining how to extract espresso shots, steam milk and pour a few basic cappuccinos, cortados and lattes.
Along with the coffee professionals, local FNB representatives provided insight into starting businesses and what they can offer to help and Innovate Durban provided insight into what they can offer to Durban entrepreneurs with fresh ideas.
Coffee Magazine website