Zimbabwe’s coffee industry might not have the market size of South Africa or the global reputation of Ethiopia and Kenya, but recent growth in specialty coffee signals a change. In this interview, barista Asher Chifumuro explains how he started in coffee as a barista before becoming more involved in the commercial side of Zimbabwe’s coffee trade.
When did you start your career in coffee and how did you come across the industry?
I started my coffee career in 2013. At the time I was working in a restaurant called Mugg & Bean in Harare. I got a job as a barista and soon after my passion for becoming a better barista started. I started to improve each day until I got promoted to be the Head Barista - I was proud for achieving such this in my career.
Fast forward to 2016 when I got a job from one of the biggest coffee suppliers in Zimbabwe, Drop Imports, To work as the Head Barista/Bartender. There I got all the exposure and training I needed to speak with baristas nationwide, recommending best coffee blends to customers, knowing different types of coffee profiles available in Zimbabwe and working with almost every coffee machine.
What's the status of specialty coffee in Zimbabwe?
Well, the specialty coffee has become more and more dense in the city of Harare and it’s becoming a great culture. People are getting more educated and appreciating specialty coffee knowing there are a lot of aspects to expect from a cup of coffee.
What types of people are suited to working in the industry?
I will say anyone with an interest and passion to serve in the hospitality industry and has motive to great customer service .
If someone is new to coffee and looking to start out, what would you recommend they start with?
I would advise to have passion in coffee as a whole, then seek training by starting with the basics, research and most of all understand what the customers want, practice more and not give up.
Are there some central blog posts or websites that you go to gain more knowledge, develop further skills?
I use Barista Daily on Instagram, they post new and trending ways of making coffees, different types of coffee machines. Also I’m a member of Speciality Coffee Association - I use their website page to learn about coffee machines, different types of coffees around the world, ways to improve, refresher courses. They also post live videos and pictures.
What's next for your career? What's on the horizon and what goals do you have for the coming three years?
As I’m getting more exposure in the coffee industry through Drop Imports, my next stage is getting to be one of the best coffee shop consultants in Zimbabwe, unleashing the best out of each and every coffee blend I recommend to customers.
Follow Asher on Instagram via @ashercyclone