Life is anything but bland for former barista Everlasting Mbedzi.
How can it be when the past 18 months have seen him transition from a cool coffee guy about town to a successful sales executive in the motoring sector?
It’s been some journey for Mbedzi – literally and figuratively. He grew up in Limpopo before leaving his old life behind in 2015 in search of a better future in Gqeberha.
He was at a loose end when he arrived in the city but little did he know how his life would change when he first caught wind of a barista academy at Father’s House in North End.
That is where he was introduced to the enchanting world of coffee and all its fascinating flavours, quirks and mysteries.
At the academy he received a veritable PhD in beans and teas as he unearthed the secrets to the finest lattes, Americanos, cappuccinos and macchiatos – not forgetting all the other “atos” and “anos” out there.
Armed with this knowledge, he strutted into Nelson Mandela Bay’s vibrant coffee scene with a plan and landed a job at a major java franchise with the minimum of fuss.
He plied his trade at several branches of the chain, particularly enjoying the people he met along the way. One of those was Warren Gould, the dealer principal at Kelston Chery in Gqeberha.
A regular at the coffee outlet, Gould enjoyed interacting with the personable barista who knew his order back to front.
But, where others saw a friendly face delivering coffees and one-liners with equal aplomb, the DP noticed skills and attributes that he believed could translate into vehicle sales – an engaging personality and a drive for service excellence.
And so it happened, while collecting his standing order from his favourite barista one day, that he alerted him to a vacancy in the new-vehicle sales division at his dealership.
Mbedzi clearly had no experience in this field, but he also knew such opportunities did not come along often. In coffee parlance, one wouldn’t pour a complimentary flat white down the drain, would you?
In March 2021, he began his schooling through Kelston’s cadet training programme. Here he was taught different sales techniques, models, vehicle specs and all the other “s”-suffixes that it takes to make it in the industry.
“It was a very big step; such a different world from coffee. I didn’t know anything about cars,” Mbedzi admitted.
Luckily, he was an exceptionally fast learner. He aced his learnership and started selling on Chery’s showroom floor within six months.
He was understandably “very nervous” on his first day but, as time went by and he started turning meet cutes into sales, so the jitters fell away.
Now, a year later, he struggles to recall exactly how many cars he has moved. All he knows is that it is “a lot”.
The 36-year-old father to a 19-month-old daughter paid tribute to Gould for spotting something in him and giving him a chance despite his obvious shortcomings.
To this day Gould continued to guide him, he said.
“I never saw this new life coming. I love it even though it’s hard work. I’m learning every day.”
It also helps that Mbedzi has “a lot of confidence in this brand”.
But would he like to follow in the footsteps of his mentor?
“No, there is a lot of work there,” he laughed. “Maybe one day. You never know.”