GroundUp (Cape Town)

11 August 2014

South Africa: Department of Coffee Opens New Branches

Muffin runs, a pop up shop, a new range of coffee beans and now training volunteers to be baristas - Khayelitsha's first coffee shop, the Department of Coffee (DOC) is growing and showing no signs of slowing down.

Empowering and skills training were on display at the busy coffee shop in Khayelitsha, as coffee barista Vuyile Msaku showed five eager volunteers how to prepare good coffee.

19-year-old Phozisa Veto is one of the new volunteers at DOC and says she is enjoying the experience. "I matriculated from Wynberg Secondary School last year and I was planning on studying further, either accounting or journalism, but I failed mathematics and ended up not furthering my education. I then came across Action Volunteers Africa, an organisation which helps youth develop skills that they can use in the working world. I volunteered there for two weeks in February. After ACA I did a bit of teaching at a primary school in the area and then I heard about the training here at DOC. I started two weeks ago and I prepare coffee for the customers. I've never done anything like this before and I am really enjoying it, it is amazing."

One of the DOC owners, Wongama Baleni, said they saw a need to start training because so many young people would come to the coffee shop to ask if there were any vacancies.

"Some would even offer sweeping or cleaning the shop. We then came up with the idea of training people because it would not only help them but us as well. At times, you will find three events happening at the same time and we can't all attend them and leave the coffee shop empty. So together with Connect, a non-profit community development project, we started training volunteers.

"The main aim is for them in future to open pop-up food and beverage shops, so we are contributing by equipping them with skills of how to make coffee, how to start a business, and how to run a business. This is not about creating employment, but it's about entrepreneurship. We have 11 trainees, some are at the Khayelitsha shop, some at our pop-up shop in Long Street, and others at our coffee shop in Observatory," said Baleni.

Since first opening their doors two years ago, the DOC has opened another coffee shop at the Cape Town Science Centre in Observatory and have now as part of the World Design Capital 2014 also opened a pop-up coffee shop in Long Street.

Baleni said even though they were continuously focused on growing their business, they were also making sure that they give back to the community by means of their muffin run.

"Basically you come to the coffee shop and donate any amount of money that you want. We then put the donation aside and once the money is enough to buy a large quantity of muffins, we do so then deliver the muffins to different creches and children orphanages around the township."

He said once a donation was made, the donor's details were taken down and donors would receive photographs and letters of thanks from the creches and orphanages for the part they played.

Baleni assured GroundUp that there were many more things to come from the DOC because they made sure that whichever opportunity that came their way, they grabbed it.

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