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Painting Kenya’s portrait

From the March 2018 issue.

Kenya’s local coffee production and consumption are on the rise, albeit slowly, as industry organisations support the industry and a coffee-drinking culture emerges.

Fenkil Asghedom isn’t actually from Nairobi, or even from Kenya. The coffee enthusiast and entrepreneur is from nearby Eritrea, a small country on the northern edge of Ethiopia. He came from a coffee family, though, and grew up in Eritrea’s coffee culture that treated coffee drinking as a ceremony and social gathering.

This love for coffee stayed with him his entire life and eventually motivated his move to Nairobi to start a specialty coffeehouse.

While his café and roastery, Kesh Kesh Coffee, was under construction prior to opening last year, he took a Q grader course at Utake Coffee Lab, East Africa’s first Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) premier training campus. He had met its instructor Mbula Musau in Uganda six years earlier and was encouraged to take a course at the soon-to-open lab in Nairobi.

Musau, who is the first Coffee Quality Institute-accredited Q instructor in Africa, had quite a different story getting into coffee. “I like to say that I bumped into coffee, fell in, and never looked back,” she tells Global Coffee Report. Rather than growing up with it as Asghedom did, Musau was introduced to coffee during university. “What started as a part-time job turned into a wealth of learning, immense growth, and a fulfilling career.”

In Utake’s Q grader course last September – its largest to date – Asghedom passed with flying colours. Today, he uses his training to educate his 15-person team and their customers on specialty coffee. “Every day, the staff and I do cuppings and I train them in basic know-how of coffee, roasting, and brewing,” says Asghedom. “And together we are teaching people and sharing our knowledge of specialty coffee and the differences between it and commercial coffee.”

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