Even though Africa is part of the largest cultivator of coffee beans in the world, second to only South America, total exports of coffee beans by all exporting countries of Africa exceeds 56.1 million bags a year.
Despite this most coffee consumed on the African continent have in the past, been processed or brewed abroad.
Two Nigerian brothers, Ngozi and Chijoke Dozie are hoping to corner this untapped market by replicating the coffee shop experience popular in the US and other European countries. The enterprising brothers have opened up a coffee shop chain with a unique angle. Cafe Neo, serves 100% African produced and brewed coffee.
Africans consuming African products
“[This is] a new way…a new approach to coffee, a new approach where we, as Africans, drink the coffee that we produce, that’s been a gift to us, as opposed to exporting and importing sub-grade coffee,” Dozie told French press, AFP.
Cafe Neo, is located on the Victoria Island, the main business and financial centre of Nigeria’s capital city, Lagos, and one of the most exclusive and expensive areas to live in the country. The coffee brand is the first ever cafe to offer 100% Rwandan arabica coffee, a type of coffee bean, in a city where getting a decent espresso is a mission.
The Dozies now have three cafes operating in Lagos and two others are in the pipeline, despite only having ventured into business in 2014.
Ngozi Dozie says he was inspired by India, where the home-grown Indian coffee brand, Cafe Coffee Day has dominated the market. This is despite the presence of international chains such as Britain’s Costa Coffee or America’s Starbucks.
Dozie however says they aim to develop their business along the lines of these global coffee powerhouses, and close off competition for them in Africa.
“India is a fantastic example with Cafe Coffee Day,” Dozie explained. “We’re starting young right now and our aim is to grow as such that yes, Starbucks may come, but we want to be the choice of Nigerians, because there’s that affinity with something that comes from here, in Africa.”
Their dream is to be the leading coffee seller on the continent. The Dozies are hoping to branch out across the continent, eventually opening up 20 to 30 in Lagos alone within the next four years.
The brothers brought in a Rwandan specialist coffee brewer, Kayitana John Bosco, to train local staff on how to make a proper coffee at Cafe Neo – and said it was time for a change.
“Our first coffee tree was planted in 1904,” Bosco told AFP about his homeland. “We’ve been producing coffee for more than a century. But brewing, the consumption…it’s really still down.”
Bosco went on to say he once visited a coffee farmer in 2007 and “that old man had been doing coffee farming for 20 years, but he didn’t know the taste of it.”
“So, his job was to do farming, harvest, and send. He didn’t know where it was going or what it was used for.”