From Kenya to Nigeria with love, cup of coffee

Some coffee products from Kaldi Africa. Dr Nasra Ali, Kaldi’s proprietor, has managed to introduce freshly brewed Kenyan coffee to Nigeria. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Dr Nasra has introduced freshly brewed coffee in lagos.
  • Having grown up exposed to coffee farms and the business of coffee chain shops from relatives later on in life, she realised there was a gap in the market that needed filling.
  • Kaldi Africa is a joint Nigerian–Kenyan enterprise seeking to serve freshly roasted coffee, tea and cocoa. Raw coffee beans are sourced from Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria, even though the latter produces a very small quota for production.
  • Kaldi not only sells branded coffee, cocoa and tea but is also involved in training barristers from other hotels and coffee shops within Lagos.

About 50 management executives are gathered in a small warehouse in Illupeju, one of Lagos’ industrial estates to learn about entrepreneurship.

But first, coffee, or tea if you please.

They mill together touching raw coffee beans present on display by gourmet roaster Kaldi Africa, the factory they are visiting. “Coffee is Africa’s gift to the world,” says Dr Nasra Ali, Kaldi’s proprietor as she welcomes the guests gathered for a cup.

The executives are from the advanced management class of the Lagos Business School (LBS).

Joining them are visiting participants from Nairobi’s Strathmore Business School (SBS) on their annual exchange programme.

It is the first time the field visit is being conducted at Kaldi Africa.

When Dr Nasra, a Kenyan-born public health practitioner moved to Lagos in 2014, she realised that she couldn’t get a freshly brewed cup of coffee the way she liked it.

Having grown up exposed to coffee farms and the business of coffee chain shops from relatives later on in life, she realised there was a gap in the market that needed filling.

Nigeria is not a very popular market for hot beverages, consuming soft carbonated drinks and bottled water instead. 2014 estimates put revenues at $435 billion and growing for this market, and this does not include the country’s consumption of high-end liquor.

Some market research later and Kaldi Africa was born. Leaning on her family connections, Nasra turned her husband’s old business premises; a foundry, into a warehouse and small coffee brewery.

TRAINING BARISTAS

As an entrepreneur, she had the rare fortune of sourcing capital from within the family rather than taking a loan.

Kaldi Africa is a joint Nigerian–Kenyan enterprise seeking to serve freshly roasted coffee, tea and cocoa. Raw coffee beans are sourced from Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria, even though the latter produces a very small quota for production.

But Dr Nasra believes that the country has the potential to grow its own coffee and is investing 5,000 Ha of land for growing its first crop in Taraba State.

“Before oil, coffee contributed four per cent to Nigeria’s GDP but this figure has drastically reduced. The country is also a huge producer of cocoa but almost everything leaves Nigeria in its raw form, is processed overseas and then comes back to the country,” shares Dr Nasra.

This is in contrast to Ethiopia, which consumes 70 per cent of its local coffee internally and only sells a fraction of it. Her coffee is sourced from the Nairobi and Ethiopian auction houses, packaged and served either as is or a blend of different varieties.

In just one year the business has exceeded expectation. Her coffee and tea can be found in several supermarkets around Lagos and several hotels such as the Radisson Blu, Intercontinental and the Eko Signature.

Kaldi not only sells branded coffee, cocoa and tea but is also involved in training baristas from other hotels and coffee shops within Lagos.

Alfred Mwai, Head of Operations runs the value addition segment of the business under which training falls. In addition, he is the head barrister at Kaldi, a skill he perfected having trained at the Kenya Utalii College in coffee cupping and grading before honing his skills at the Java Coffee Chain in Kenya.

BUSINESS RUN IN NIGERIA BY A KENYAN

"We want to educate as many people as we can about the value of coffee. From its handling, to how it is brewed to ensuring that they adopt the culture in their hotels and homes,” he says.

Several of their weekend students at the quaint coffee house are Nigerian diaspora returnees seeking a Starbucks kind of experience and excited at the prospect of learning how to make a good cuppa.

Dr Bridget Chukwuma who facilitates the management course at LBS noted that the company was a good fit for their executive class as it has the unique quality of being a business run in Nigeria by a Kenyan.

“What is admirable about Kaldi Africa is that they see beyond the challenges of Nigeria and have set up a business that leverages the agricultural value chain,” she noted.

Dr Chukwuma admired their passion and drive for education on coffee pointing out that their understanding of the market allowed the brewer to take a long term view of growth and sustainability.

Kaldi Africa is changing the way Nigerians take their coffee, one cup at a time. It is however setting its sights on the bigger picture – getting its first coffee bush into the ground and in the coming years, pushing Nigeria into dominance among coffee growing countries.

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