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Coffee Voyager

Mbula Musau - The Talented Taster

Women are the backbone of any economy, especially if it is an agriculture-driven. When they understand their role and potential and feel included and fairly treated, the results are tangible. 

Mbula

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I am a coffee enthusiast, educator and social entrepreneur based out of Nairobi-Kenya but serving the wider African region for the last 11 years. 

I am a certified Q grader instructor with the CQI for Arabica and AI for Robusta, AST for Sensory Skills module of the SCA Coffee Skills Program, Coffee Corps volunteer with the CQI for 11 years, trained WCE judge and working with farmers through coffee quality improvement programs to help sustain specialty coffee production in Africa for the world.

This is through national and international cupping competitions and marketing programs with partners from the world over. I am passionate about gender equity in the sector and actively involved in the formation and growth of 7 International Women in Coffee Alliance chapters in Africa, where I serve as chapter Facilitator. 

As a result, I represent the entire value chain, youth, and women in coffee, governments, the private sector, community-based organizations and individual coffee professionals eager to hone their skills in the industry. I am also a member of the SCA inclusivity and diversity committee 2018.

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I set up Utake Coffee Limited, an innovative company specializing in coffee quality and Marketing Consultancy and Development Management. The company works to promote a better understanding of these practices through training, mentoring and consultancy. 

Utake Coffee also has a state of the art coffee quality teaching Laboratory, in the outskirts of Nairobi. This laboratory is the first certified Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Premier Training Campus (“PTC”) in Africa with an in-house CQI Q instructor and Authorised SCA Trainer, AST.

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I also hold a Coffee Dealership Licence which allows me to the source, roast, import, and export coffee to facilitate and participate in its trade.


By the third sip, I was hooked!

While vending some items at a neighborhood (cheap toolboxes to be precise), I decided to approach a building under construction, and while trying to sell them my toolkits they informed me that they were constructing the first specialty coffee chain in Kenya.
 

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I asked them if I could drop them my (1-page) CV and the General Manager said they were looking for enterprising ambitious personnel and no experience was required as it was the first of its kind.

I was delighted, went home and typed my CV and delivered it the next day. A few weeks later they called me and took me through all the interviews, I landed a job with the negotiated option to work on weekends and holidays once my college semester began.

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I went through all the company’s departments but was most interested in the coffee division; I was fascinated by all the equipment I had never seen, the espresso machines, the roaster, the grinder… Then when I drank the first cup of specialty coffee, I was taken aback by how nice and strong it was, because all I knew was tea. By the third sip, I was hooked.

I worked through University and got hired to head the wholesale coffee division that we had set up when I completed my first degree. 

Why Coffee

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Coffee and I bumped into each other, and I was amazed at all the opportunities it had given me to figure it all out, based purely on my potential. 
 

So when I completed my studies, I decided I would apply my skills to the same sector and have never regretted this decision.

What's the "a-ha" moment you encountered when you feel like giving up from the industry? 

While studying at Nairobi University, I was tempted to take the offers for an internship with all the big international banks and audit firms that would come and recruit talent from the college.

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My friends were all applying and getting selected and making more money than I was when we were studying, but I still had the best coffee in my campus room than anyone in the entire university and I could brew it in ways many were fascinated about.

I kept them alert and energized, and had something cool to talk about, and got to hang out in the mushrooming cool coffee houses.

The success of the chain was another a-ha moment. Kenya was in need of a specialty coffee scene. Our coffee was renowned worldwide, but we never had the opportunity to drink it locally or even enjoy the ambiance of “any-wave” coffee shops. 
 

I knew we were pioneers and was determined to learn as much as I could and ride the wave before I could contemplate letting it go.

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After working in the chain of specialty coffee shops, Eastern African Fine Coffees Association idea came around, and they were going across the continent collecting signatures to enable its registration, and I happened to sign it on behalf of my company.

Once EAFCA was established, it grew phenomenally as well and received funding for international training which I signed up for. 

Eventually, I got hired into the association and grew from dealing with just Kenyan coffee to 10 different African producing countries, the differences in coffees, the learnings and experiences were other A-Ha moments, at which point I realized this is what I was meant to do.

The industry that lacks conviviality

The plight of coffee farmers in terms of revenues received for their coffees. It should not be left to price discovery. Their costs are not.

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I also think it is one industry that lacks conviviality, compared to Wine industry for example where growers and partakers are at almost the same levels of enjoyment and benefit from the beverage. I wish this were different.

What would you be if everyone were to stop drinking coffee? And why?

I would probably be a Marketing Executive for a Brand, or in the Development field, as I studied a Masters in Development Management and living in Africa, I believe it is applicable in more ways than coffee.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

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Running, Dancing, Reading and Traveling to new welcoming sites.



Vote for Mbula Musau

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SCA Members will receive an email ballot on November 1st from vote@ukevote.uk. If you don’t receive your email ballot by that date, please email elections@sca.coffee.

  

Uncle Zhang’s turn point on his 40th

 

Editor | A grass eating designer

 

 

 

What is the power source for communication?  

Maybe you can’t find it on Baidu, because I made it.

This time I want to talk about communication.

 

I really don’t like keep talking with people for a long time.

This is like smash my own sign,

Are all the previous conversations fake?

I have met and talked with so many people, but I didn’t like it at all?

 

No, no,no

 

Actually I can only say that I am a person that lack the communication power supply.

For example, I probably only use 20% of my power to communicate,

I like to stay away from people to charge myself, get along with myself.

(Yes, I like to stay at home)

 

Constant communication is a platform of exchange for many coffee drinkers.

Exchange of ideas are important to build your network of friends.

People who are open to communication will enjoy it.

Through each communication we will improve our communication skills

They are always full of energy, and even can be healed through communication.

 

Unfortunately, I am just the opposite.

Every time I have a communication, my"communication power" drops.  

When it is over, there will be a whole bunch of things need me to do.

You might even get a collapse state.

 

I wonder if anyone has the same power supply like me?

This time we visited a TV professional who is also engaged in film and TV.

He may spend all his time on communication every day.

Why did he end up in the coffee industry from TV professional industry?

This time let's take a look at the turning point of our coffee voyager Zhang Lei 

 

 

 

 

 Kunming’s “Heirloom”

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As a native from Yunnan province, I have been living in Kunming-the capital city. It’s a laid-back city with a slow pace of life and a very livable climate all year round.

This is the "Treasure" of Kunming. You don't have to be rich to live comfortable here.

Such a slow pace of life enables me to know about coffee and learn more about coffee then falling in love with coffee.

 

 

 

Media Student

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I was majoring in media in university, and after graduated I worked in a television station for six years. After that I also worked in advertising for a few years. There was a day that I have learned a little about coffee, and it was at that time I came into the coffee industry.

The TV station will give you many opportunities to get in touch with friends from all walks of life. However, after six years of working in this industry, although I have memories,I have lost my love for it. Being away from home almost the whole year, I couldn’t stay with families and friends made so sad and really wanted to go away.

And coffee brings me a different lifestyle, so that I have more time to share love and happiness with my friends. After I have learned more about coffee roasting, I couldn't help learning more about it. Although some friends did not understand why I was doing such a boring job, they could feel it after they tasted the coffee that I roasted.

Now, every time I see my friends drinking the coffee that I roasted, it's worth it!

 

 

 

 The chance of coffee 

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Actually, it was one of my friend wanted to open up a cafe. I just followed my friend and the designer to visit places. "Do you need a busboy?" I joked. She said, "Yes, I do!” This kind of joke, brought me to the coffee journey, for my whole life.

 

 

 

Beijing, cognitive, go back to ‘school’

 

After that joke, I started my first coffee trip. Like many of my friends who want to open up a café now, it was a cool thing to do for me, open up a café, and to be a popular Barista. But I there were so many difficulties that I didn't expect after I tried it.

Although our café was hot in Kunming at that time, when the business went good, they needed to book a table in advance to get a seat. Because of that, I was so busy that I did't have any time for myself and my family. I felt like I was just a robot, didn’t have time to learn how to make the best coffee.

So that I decided to leave coffee industry three years later, didn’t want to touch any coffee cup, didn’t want to find any job that related to coffee because it is totally different from what I imagined.

By chance, I met a foreigner in Beijing. In his café, I had my first real taste of specialty coffee – the flavor of fruit, flower, brown sugar, tea feeling… Perfect! At that moment, I found that I fell in love with coffee again!!

After that, I often went to drink coffee with that foreigner and I have learned a lot about coffee that I did not know before from him. It turned out that coffee was much more profound than I had known before, I felt like I know nothing about coffee!

I had read a lot of books, but many of them were repetitive, for the other part, each author has their own understanding of coffee, this make me very confused.

 

 

 

 Turning Point on my 40th

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When I was 40 years old, I began to learn the best and newest coffee knowledge overseas in a formal and systematic way. Not only I want to be a good barista to make a nice cup of coffee for my friends, but I also want to be adisseminator for coffee culture and spread the best, newest and most practicalcoffee knowledge to everyone who loves coffee.

Sometimes this makes me feel tired, but every time I share delicious coffee with my friends, every time when I share my knowledge of coffee to students or friends around, all the exhaustion is gone!

Coffee has now brought me not only the enjoyment of taste and smell, but also the great motivation to keep learning.

 

 

 

Why do I want to learn roast? 

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The most important thing was because of the light roasted beans I have tasted in Beijing! Although I have been making coffee for a few years, I know a little about roasting, I only know about Italian espresso, subconsciously, I think all roasted beans are almost the same as espresso!

It was the very first time that I felt something completely different! That’s why I loved to drinking coffee with that foreigner, because I wanted to know more about the flavor things, wanted to listening him describe them by different roasts levels. At that time I didn't have the chance to try roasting by myself! But I also learned a lot about roasting that I didn't know before.

 

 

 

When’s my opportunity to roast?

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After I came back to Kunming, I got to know a teacher who had many years of roasting experience here, and then I started to learn from him. I also had the opportunity to roast a batch of coffee by myself. In retrospect, it was very ordinary, but I did baked beans.

I was extremely exciting! After that, I decided to start my roasting life. I wanted to use my knowledge to express the awesome characteristic of coffee. I want to be the important part to connect coffee farmers and consumers.Therefore, I will try harder to learn about coffee roasting and share my experience with you.

 

 

 

 Change one-sided understanding of coffee 

What I really want to change is the one-sided understanding of coffee from the people around me, which make many people misunderstand coffee!

 

 

 

If no one drinks coffee

 

 If this doesn't happen, as long as we have the passionate of coffee and working hard, the number of people will only increase and the quality of coffee will get better and better! I have every faith in it! So we need to work harder!!

 

 

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

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 One of my favorite sports is football, especially in Kunming!! As long as time permits, I will play it every week!! And also because of my media major, so usually I’ll watch movies after work, listen to music also!

Occasionally I will play phone games with friends!! Last but not least, I do not only drink coffee -- as a native of Yunnan, it is also necessary to drink tea with friends and chat!!

 

Click to read more articles by Zhang Lei : 

How to reduce smokiness during Coffee Roasting

 

 

Everyone has their own unique perspective to meet yourself, like and dislike. It's like my strange power supply of communication. It doesn’t mean that I hate everyone, but I do feel physically drained after spending time with people, even if I don't do anything.

Compared with communicating with people, I’d rather read books. Everyone has their own hobby, but what I want to say is, can you stand up to yourself? Too many work places force you to do what you may not like? But complaining doesn't solve problems. The first step to solve problems is to be honest, and then to find solutions step by step :)

So, stand up to yourself. Keep trying. Age isn't a problem, but is the problem that blinds you to your true feelings.