JOHANNESBURG - Two young radiographers have teamed up to disrupt the multi-billion rand South African coffee industry through their mobile coffee company Home of the Bean.
Co-founders Leroy Kgopa, 28, and Itumeleng Manamela, 25, established the company in 2017 owing to their appreciation for a good cup of coffee.
They now want to use their company as a springboard to inculcate the budding coffee culture among the majority black community in South Africa.
The entrepreneurs met at a radiography class at the University of Johannesburg where they were both studying in 2011.
Kgopa works as a diagnostic radiographer at Helen Joseph Hospital, while Manamela works as a radiation therapist at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, both in Johannesburg.
However, they say their jobs have not stopped them from following their passion for coffee.
Kgopa says their plans to embark on business started in 2016. “The main goal has always been to open a coffee shop but we didn’t have money to start it. We also looked at different franchises like Nando’s and The Fish & Chip Co. but they were very expensive,” says Kgopa.
This prompted them to really look at the prospects of starting their own brand. They bought an old VW kombi camper, get it a fresh coat of paint and converted it into a mobile coffee shop.
Kgopa says there are lots of opportunities in the South African coffee industry, which grew from R1.7 billion in 2012 to R3.2bn in 2017, according to coffee expert Dylan Cummings.
Kgopa and Manamela maintain that their competitors tend to focus on the bottom line and not the quality of coffee they serve or customer experience.
Home of the Bean is doing the opposite.
“We give you quality coffee and the same experience and taste that one would get at a top class coffee shop. We bring that entire experience in our kombi,” says Kgopa.
Their primary offering is coffee made with freshly roasted beans helping them to make varieties from cappuccinos, Americano, and espressos to lattes, mochaccinos, and iced coffees. They also serve smoothies and freshly pressed juice blends; fresh cakes, brownies, croissants, sandwiches and shakes.
“We want to build coffee culture among the black community. We host coffee appreciation events in areas such as the Maboneng Precinct. We teach you everything about coffee, from the farm to your cup,” says Manamela.
They teach people what to look out for in their daily caffeine fix; how the coffee beans are roasted from being green to yellow, light, medium and dark.
“We teach you the ultimate brewing methods that you can use at home. We also sell you the coffee equipment you can use at home.”
Home of the Bean does sporting events, food and social markets, school concerts and sports functions, weddings and office parks where they set up mini kiosks.
Over the weekend the Home of the Bean kombi, which they call Kofi Kombi, was at the Ticketpro Dome for the Fire & Feast Meat Festival ending today (June 10).
Kgopa and Manamela said they conducted research and visited numerous coffee shops and read books about coffee history, before starting the company.
When they started they used Rwandan coffee beans, then those from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Kenya, Ethiopia and Brazil.
“We want to partner with more corporate companies and we are also working towards building more kombis,” says Kgopa.
The company gives back to the community through a number of initiatives such as the school shoes campaign where they collect and donate school shoes to less fortunate pupils in rural schools.
They also run the blanket drive during the winter season, visiting children’s homes and pampering abused women on Valentine’s Day and donating clothes to shelters.
“Helping people, inspiring people and giving them a place or sense of belonging is core aim of our business,” say Kgopa and Manamela.
- BUSINESS REPORT