The human side of the cup, Act 1 : Africa

Interview with our producers

The human side of the cup, Act 1 : Africa

angel barrera | 2020-06-08

As you might know, during the past weeks we held our yearly event called ‘Coffee in Primeurs’. It is a huge cupping session that usually takes place here in our offices. This year, of course, we had to think of a different format. So instead of receiving all our dear shinny happy roasters here in Bordeaux, we has to send samples to their premises. And instead of having our dear happy farmers & exporters among us, we organized ‘Live’ online conferences.
The Lives were a big hit as we had very positive feedbacks. One of the most recurrent ones was that the Lives showed the human aspect of sourcing coffee and the human aspect of our partnerships. In a cupping, a roaster often focus on the beverage: the coffee, its production process and the cup profile... now, they could expend their knowledge beyond the cup. We felt that as something extremely touching and encouraging. We then started our lives by saying to farmers: “roasters have already fallen in love with your coffees, this is a chance for them to fall in love with you.”
This is why, from this point on, we decided to publish more interviews with farmers from all over the world. Farmers who are currently harvesting while their country is still facing the consequences of COVID-19. We have asked practical questions as well as some more specific ones about who they are and what motivates them. We are all happy to take the time to know them a little bit more. To actually see the human side of their cups of coffees.

Angel, for the Belco sourcing team.

We would start with David Maguta, from Kenya, in Africa.

How is the situation of COVID in Kenya?

Covid in Kenya brought panic and fear as we were afraid that we couldn’t handle the pandemic effectively like the global north.

How is the situation of COVID affecting the coffee industry in Kenya? What are the challenges? How is this affecting the farms management/work?

The situation has definitely affected the coffee sector in Kenya as the cessation of movement and curfew has drastically slowed down businesses and logistics. Coffee farmers/estate owners who need to travel to their farms out of Nairobi to oversee processing and handling almost cannot move because of the heavy restrictions by the government. The Labor force at the farms has also severely been reduced because the government has urged its citizens to stay at home to observe safety.

Do you think the whole COVID pandemic might create a change in our society? If so, what kind of change?

The pandemic will definitely leave an impact to our society as we now more than ever appreciate the all-round sanitary precautions we are now taking. It will also leave a form of discipline in our society.

Seeing how COVID is first a sanitary crisis but would create an economic crisis afterwards, how would you see it changing/transforming/adapting the specialty coffee industry?

The sanitary nature of Covid I believe will help us also increase the sanitary conditions of our processing starting from the employees directly handling the coffee cherries/parchment/green coffee. The Covid situation has also taught me to heavily minimize on extra costs at the farm which aren't necessary to give the end product.

What would you like to say to roasters & consumers currently buying coffees from your farms and why would you encourage them to keep buying, roasting & drinking your coffees in the future?

What I would say to any roaster buying our coffee is that what they currently have purchased is an appetizer... they should expect nothing but magic from our lots... now that we can interact and get Feedback from Belco and their customers on quality and demand... we will do nothing less than improve our product.

To end up, who is David in some few words...

What is your favorite book?

Richest Man in Babylon - Samuel Clason

What is the word you would say define your team at the farms?


Who is your favorite/inspiring person in human history and why?

I believe that the people I've met in life who have made an impact should be the people who I say inspire me.

If you happen to believe in reincarnation, in what animal would you like to reincarnate and why?

I will reincarnate into a cat. Sounds boring, but I feel that cats are one of the most generous animals. But to choose one specific cat species I’d choose a Caracal... why? I feel that I relate the secretive nature of the Caracal that is nocturnal but has a very distinctive capabilities for its stature.

What on earth makes you the happiest person living on it?

What would make me a happy person is to see that whoever I interact with or whatever I do add value in volumes I may never get to understand and my children's children can read about.
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