FNB Creative Coffee Week makes huge strides for the good of coffee

FNB Creative Coffee Week wrapped up in Durban on Saturday, 29 June with participants from the coffee industry committed to improving the lives of baristas, coffee farmers and roasters.

Over 250 of the coffee industry’s top influencers met in Durban for three days to workshop the significant issues in coffee, while learning about global trends and practices from some of the globe’s best coffee professionals. These workshops and interactions were arranged to bridge the gap between South Africa and leading coffee nations in terms of standards and trends.

“This is a time to connect on important issues like barista wages and green coffee prices for farmers,” explained Ben Jenkin from Johannesburg-based Bespoke Coffee. “We were able to learn from industry leaders who have taken their businesses where we want to go.”

Among the invited guests were Ethiopian coffee producer, Tesfaye Bekele Degaga, from Suke Quto Farm; four-time Irish Barista Champion and bestselling author of ‘What I Know About Running Coffee Shops’, Colin Harmon; and Trish Rothgeb, CEO of Wrecking Ball Coffee in San Francisco.

Colin Harmon who has sold over 22 000 copies of his bestseller, impressed on the delegates the need for balance: “Nothing is ever going to be perfect. There won’t be a perfect space, there will be sacrifice. And, whatever you do, do it properly. Learn about balance and from there, you grow.”

One of the commitments made at the FNB Creative Coffee Week was to tackle improving barista wages in South Africa, based on experience and qualifications.

Iain Evans, publisher of Coffee Magazine, said: “We have committed to build an online tool called the Barista Wage Calculator, based on the internationally-acclaimed Living Wage Calculator. This will basically help employers and baristas determine what a fair, living wage is for each individual employed in the coffee industry.” 

One of the other fiercely debated topics was that of paying higher prices to coffee producers at a farm level, to increase cup quality and secure future crops in the face a global coffee price crisis.  

Commenting on this topic, Ethiopian coffee farmer, Tesfaye Bekele Degaga, said: “All coffee is special by its nature. You and your customers in your café ensure that by paying a good price for a cup of coffee, we can continue to invest in our people and our coffee.”

The FNB Creative Coffee Week culminated in the FNB Coffee Magazine Awards’ Gala Dinner at the Waterfront Hotel in Durban on Saturday, 29 June where 14 awards were presented for excellence in the coffee industry.