World over it is the widely accepted norm to get your hot cup of coffee early in the morning to fully wake up the senses and begin your day. Although often in Zimbabwe the go to hot beverage in the morning is a hot cup of tea. If you’ve ever googled coffee and Zimbabwe then you would find articles about how David Livingstone on his travels in the 19th century was gifted coffee beans in the Southern African nation.
He fell in love with the hot beverage and while hyped up on coffee he convinced himself he’d a discovery of the most beautiful falls in the world and he (re)named “Mosi-oa-Tunya” (the smoke that thunders) Victoria falls in honour of the queen. So from little bit of history you realise without colonisation, Zimbabwe might have very well been a full blown coffee nation.
Does Zimbabwe have a coffee culture?
— Half Thoughts (@teemadzika) September 24, 2020
As what has become the norm in all modern society we begin with asking social media for their opinion. It is biased in representation of the population firstly by the number of people with access to the internet, secondly by the number who choose to not to be on social media in particular Twitter and thirdly by all those who didn’t get to see the poll. But there we have it, the results overwhelmingly say no.
Coffeerepublik recently announced the coming of Starbucks coffee to Zimbabwe (they meant the coffee beans and not the franchise) and this sparked the conversation or rather debate on whether Zimbabwe has a coffee culture. Many people were of the opinion that Starbucks (the franchise) would succeed because of Zimbabwe’s classist nature. The desire of the higher classes of society to indulge in something the lower classes of society could not afford. Strong points were raised and some emotions flared because how dare international brands arrive amidst this mess we call Zimbabwe.
There was especially a fiery debate as to the pricing of Starbucks when it entered the market. Zimbabwean prices are a little bit insane when compared to international standards. We have our own little bubble where we chase 100% profits and if the prices are too high for you, you’re not our target market. So we asked the question who is the target market of coffee?
Travelling around Harare I notice a new cafe popping up every other week (Maybe because I don’t move around much). I don’t know if these are fully ingrained coffee spots or they’re food spots which are just going with aesthetic of cafes. Yet either way they must be a reason around. Is that a signal as to a growth in the coffee market or it’s the market for purely food that’s growing? Because I think we can all agree that Zimbabwe is a tea country whether it’s simply due to what was instilled within us during colonisation or it’s out of a genuine love that has grown for the hot beverage or both.
They’re people like me who love a hot cup of Ricoffy, Frisco Chino or Jacobs Kronung here and there. I haven’t made an investment into a coffee maker or a strainer and a coffee bean roaster but I depend on the basics. And by basics I mean I just buy instant coffee which only requires hot water to be ready to drink. I used to think of myself as a coffee connoisseur because I sampled several brands and different types of store bought coffee and my palate could tell the difference in flavour. Yet now I realise I was only a novice.
I don’t know if I count as being part of coffee because afterall what is coffee culture? I’ll drink wine in a box while relaxing on a Friday and bingeing on Netflix but is that being part of wine culture? Because I believe wine culture is the decanters, varied wine glasses, wine tastings, different varieties of cheese and crackers among other things. So rather I would consider myself just a wine drinker but not part of wine culture.
According to Wikipedia Coffee culture refers to set rituals and common attitudes all around the consumption of coffee, particularly as instrument for socialising. The term also refers to the cultural diffusion and adoption of coffee as a widely consumed stimulant. So armed with this definition we’re going to explore Zimbabwe’s coffee culture in this blog series in the coming weeks. Depending on how much effort I put into getting this done.
We’ll look into whether a coffee culture actually exists here and if it does how big is it? At what rate might it be growing? We’ll research the uniquely Zimbabwean coffee blends being farmed mainly in Manicaland. We’ll research whether there’s a local market for these or it’s all for export. We’ll look into the currently most talked about coffee spots like Coffeerepublik, Mugg & Bean, Skotchkart…
So how do you see it does Zimbabwe have a coffee culture?