By Paul Ndiho
Most coffee sold in Nigeria is instant and imported. But a local beverage company is working to market its new blends of freshly roasted and ground coffee to a growing middle class in Nigeria that has given rise to coffee drinking in the country.
Kaldi Africa promotes locally roasted and processed coffee made from blends of coffee sourced in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya. The beverage processing company operates in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos.
The company, launched nearly a year ago, started roasting coffee beans sourced from Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia as part of a larger plan to offer Nigerian coffee lovers a more premium product.
The goal is to target a growing middle-class that is ready to spend while meeting in coffee shops opening around the city.
Kaldi’s managing director, Nasra Ali, says most supermarkets in the country sell imported instant coffee varieties but that there is demand for freshly ground and brewed quality coffee.
“When you look at the generation that was in the 40s, 50s and 60s, they were exposed to coffee drinking and that was in the peak of Nigeria exporting coffee. They were drinking, then of course that went down drastically and so did the production. What we are having right now is as a result of the globalization and the coffee drinking culture globally, we know that coffee is the second drunk beverage after water. It is the second highest traded commodity after oil. Then it is inevitable that it would catch up in Nigeria. So what we are basically doing is we are using the best of the African product, and preparing ourselves for the launch of the coffee culture in Nigeria and the greater West Africa,”
After a roasting process, coffee beans go into a de-stoning machine to make sure that the last bits of impurities are removed before being grounded and packed in bags for sale. One kilogram of Kaldi’s coffee sells for about 8 U.S. dollars.
The company also works closely with farmers to buy their produce and help them promote their coffee. Nearly 10 percent of the world’s coffee comes from the African continent. Alfred Mwai is the head of operations at Kaldi African.
“We have no doubt because the kind of business model that we picked was very well thought through, it was not just about coffee roasting. It is about when we roast, what are going to do with the coffee. Do we have the capacity to be able to give the education to people on the benefits of drinking fresh roasted coffee, and how are they going to have the consistency of fresh roasted coffee. So I think, I cannot regret, it is really working,”
Apart from Ethiopia, which consumes half of the coffee it produces, few Sub-Saharan African markets have a taste for the drink. During weekends, Kaldi African treats guests to various coffee drinks made by top barristers to give people a chance to sample and learn more about the benefits of taking coffee.
“It was a great experience. Aside from the quality of the product, the passion, the zeal and everything is quite interesting. And then for me as a person the fact that we have such a thing here in Nigeria is actually great. I think it is a break through,”
New coffee startups in Nigeria compete with big brands like, Nestle which is responsible for more than 80 percent of the country’s coffee sales, mostly instant coffee sold off mobile carts on the streets.