‘Understanding the quality behind coffee helps change the ecosystem of the coffee industry!’ Acacia tree coffee owner’s Nik on his Journey of coffee
The real coffee story from Ethiopia Harar
Cian Wu: Oct 2018
When did you start drinking coffee? When talking about coffee, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? To a true coffee lover, Ethiopia is the key! Ethiopia is being identified as the origin of coffee beans not only because of its long history in the coffee industry but also the stories we heard about coffee; they all come from Ethiopia.
Nik, the boss of the Acacia Tree Coffee carving his own path in coffee just because of believing quality can change the way the coffee industry. With the chosen bean, the Moka Harar and the spirit of Nik, the companions and the farmers, together they create a new way that changes the coffee world!
Grabbing a coffee is too easy just by walking down the street. Seldom do people consider the value in behind. Questions are being asked why some of the coffee is being charged that high! Is café taking most of the profit? While a barista is serving you a cup of coffee, do you know the story behind? Nik was here to give us the answer!
Can you tell me a little bit about your backgrounds and how you end up working in the coffee world?
Nik: I started my business in food and beverage 16 years ago in California with energy drinks. Exporting all over the world, I ended up living in Malaysia for a few years manufacturing energy drinks in Asia and exporting to all over the world. Business was expanded into Ethiopia and because my wife is from Ethiopia, we got to travel to Ethiopia very often. At that time, I got a chance to learn more about coffee and Harare coffee.
Ethiopia has a long history about coffee. With more chances to expose to Harare coffee, I tried to improve the formula of energy drinks with this little thing and as well grading the coffee and connecting local farmers so more support can be given to them!
You have mentioned Harare. What is so special about Harare? Why sell Harare coffee? What is the story behind you and the local farmers community?
Nik: To be more specific, coffee beans come from Harare. Harare located in the north of Ethiopia and by Muslim traders, they took the coffee beans from Ethiopia and arrived to the port of Moka in Yemen. As people got to know the coffee beans from Moka, they called them Moka coffee. Later coffee beans spread across the whole world reaching Europe, Asia and different varieties were being cultivated. Original function of coffee is for people to worship their god. They get to do the spiritual practice by drinking coffee and to stay up long in order to worship their god.
While we were trying to develop the cold brew, we were looking for the best beans in the world. The unique flavour of Harare coffee beans are what we are looking for! That is why we are selling Harare coffee.
We work with farmers to develop the best quality coffee and grade 1 coffee beans are our target. As my wife is an Ethiopian, connecting the local farmers became easy. We were trying to develop a strong relationship with them so coffee beans’ quality and their life can be improved! We had reached the farmers directly in their farm at first. We met the coffee traders in different places. Even though coffee beans are from small families with the annual number being only ten bags, we kept on connecting small families. This is how we started our cooperation with the small farms.
What is your role within this cooperation with the small family farms?
Nik: They do face lots of problems from weather, finance, health issues, and mostly political and social issues. Stability is one of their biggest concerns. However, opportunities are limited for them to develop not to say how the quality of coffee beans are being improved. We provided support to those families by coffee education workshops so they know how to take care of coffee trees, monitoring the quality and harvesting. As a result, support can be provided while improving their living standard as well as helping in export to the rest of the world. We also provided micro finance for them to overcome financing barriers so that they can harvest the cherries in the right time and quality can be maintained.
Would you mind telling us more about how quality can be maintained? How do you ensure the beans are having the same quality?
Nik: Farms will be monitored and as I mentioned, we teach them how to take care of the coffee plants. After we have collected the coffee beans, they will be dried under the sun. All coffee beans are separated into grade 1 to 5 by its size and density. The bigger with higher density, the higher the grade. My Q graders team and I will do the cup tasting to ensure all the coffee meets our requirements. Only grade 1 coffee beans are exported to the rest of the world.
What is your future plan?
Nik: Currently we are cooperating with the farmers in the Harare Region but later in the future, we would love to expand to the rest of Ethiopia. We are dedicated to provide quality coffee beans to our customers and try to educate them on the value behind small beans! Local community puts lots of effort in order to provide those quality beans and if more people realise their effort, we get more resources to provide support to the local coffee communities.
The most memorable thing to you in this coffee journey when working hard in the coffee industry? Things that you would like to share with our readers?
Nik: The quality always comes first when talking about coffee. The most memorable thing to me would be the first time when I walked into a farm, and I saw those awesome coffee trees growing so well. I got a chance to taste the coffee. I was so surprised with the aromas and flavours within the cup. Starting from that point, I can never drink other coffee but Harare.
You will be surprised every time while you are tasting a good cup of coffee. Coffee industry is huge and you will never get bored. We have to take the step to travel and experience the stories of coffee. Being open minded and understanding the value behind the cup of coffee. The fast food consuming habit should be changed as values will be lost in behind. Quality worth the prices with the benefit of health and spirituality, we are here to support people to have a good life, good living and make a change to the world.
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