By Kimuri Mwangi
Through the Coffee Directorate, the Agricultural and Food Authority (AFA) has facilitated the establishment of coffee houses in Universities to increase the local consumption among the youth.
The coffee houses are in 2 public universities; Egerton and Kenyatta while the other two are at private universities. These are at United States International University- Africa (USIU), being managed by Nairobi Java Coffee House Ltd and the other at Strathmore University, managed by Rockbern Coffee Ltd.
Kenya produces an average of 45,000 MT of coffee annually. Out of this, about 95% is exported as a raw commodity to international markets. Of the balance of 5%, about 2% is exported as value-added while the other 3% is consumed locally in the country.
The Directorate received the grant for these activities from International Coffee Organization (ICO) through Inter- African Coffee Organization (IACO).In a speech read on his behalf by Agriculture CAS Lawrence Omuhaka during the opening of Kenyatta University Coffee House, Agriculture CS Peter Munya thanked the two organizations for supporting the initiative. “It is worthwhile noting that the total cost of the KU Coffee House was Ksh 2,538,594 with a contribution of Ksh1,563,610 from the IACO grant and an additional of Ksh 974,984 by the Coffee Directorate. The total IACO/ICO sponsorship was Ksh2,800,000 out of which Ksh1,236,390 was channelled to Egerton University toward the establishment of another Coffee House. The Interest of the Coffee Directorate is to establish as many coffee houses as possible. On my own behalf and behalf of the Kenyan government, I want to sincerely thank the two sister organizations. They take credit for the success of these projects. We have used the money they gave us prudently to come up with two coffee houses instead of one which they had approved,” said Munya. The Secretary General of Inter- African Coffee Organization (IACO) Amb. Solomon S. Rutega graced the opening of the KU Coffee House.
Munya added that the target is to open four more coffee houses in public universities within a period of four years. This is expected to see the growth of consumption of Kenyan coffee from the current 3% to 7% by the end of the year 2025.
The KU Coffee House had coffee brewing equipment installed by the Coffee Directorate which also conducted a three-day professional training of ten officers as baristas from Kenyatta University. The training has equipped the baristas and waiters with the ability to prepare various coffee flavours such as cappuccino, vanilla late, mocha, macchiato, among others. The Directorate also provided the initial 50 kg bag of coffee that was used to open the Coffee House.
As a result of aggressive promotional campaigns by the Coffee Directorate, the number of coffee houses has increased tremendously from 9 in 1997 to 355 in the year 2019. There has also been a corresponding increase in the total volume of value-added coffee from 509 MT in 2009/2010 to 1,577 MT in 2019/2020.
Compared with other coffee-producing countries the 3% Kenyan local consumption of coffee is very low. Ethiopia consumes 50% of its coffee, Brazil 40%, Columbia 35% and Guatemala 30%.
“I challenge the dons and the students here to take advantage of the establishment of this KU Coffee House and come up with locally manufacturing coffee making equipment through fabrication and patenting of coffee making machine and reverse engineering. This will help to address the cost of importing expensive coffee equipment in the country thereby addressing the industry need of production of high quality and cheap equipment,” said the CS.
Last year, Dedan Kimathi University of Agriculture and Technology (DeKUT) started the use of coffee in flavouring milk yoghurt. DeKUT has also developed their brand name called Dedan Kimathi University Coffee through the value addition of their own coffee which it now sells in the local market.
“The Kenyan government would like to request further funding to establish six coffee houses in the Kenyan universities so that we can have at least 10 coffee houses in two years. This is our humble request. Ten coffee houses will make a considerable influence on the youth perception of coffee as a trendy beverage. Of course research has shown that drinking coffee as a beverage has several health benefits such as the effect of caffeine which inhibits the multiplication of malignant cells which are cancerous to the body,” opines CS Munya.