Selling Coffee – a stimulant for business
A daily cup of coffee in Addis Ababa doesn’t only brighten the day, it is also good for the local economy. Women who sell coffee on the streets make a modest living from their trade.
A coffee on the street
There are several tiers to the coffee serving trade in Addis Ababa. On the lowest rung are the ladies with thermos flasks and cups and saucers in baskets serving coffee on the street for three Ethiopian birr (15 US cents, 12 euro cents) a cup. ‘I used to sell second-hand clothes, but the police kept stopping me so I changed jobs,’ said Liya. She says she is content with her 40 birr a day profit.
Hot hard work
Aster Endale says she is tired of the low income and walking under the hot sun. So she wants to graduate to the next tier: working at a traditional coffee stand, called jebena buna, typically found outside bars and restaurants, where coffee sells for about 5 birr a cup. “Everyone strives for a better life, it is only natural, why else am I working,” 18-year-old Endale said.
Service with a smile
‘Customers come for my friendliness and because they appreciate traditional coffee,’ said 19-year-old Eyerusalem Mesele, employed outside a lively bar at a jebena buna, endlessly roasting coffee beans over hot coals before grinding them and brewing coffee. She earns about 700 birr a month. ‘I am saving money to start my own jebena buna because I have seen how it can be profitable.’
Good is simply not good enough
‘My relatives in Kuwait are helping me apply to go and work there,’ said 21-year-old Roza Melese at a jebena bunna she owns outside a small hotel, with regular customer Tesfaye Demissie. She says her business is going well and is making up to 1,000 birr profit a month, but she hopes that by working in Kuwait she can save yet more money so she can open a new business back in Addis Ababa.
Climbing even higher
Roza Melese pours coffee – in true Ethiopian style using a hand to steady her arm – from a clay pot for her customers. If her application to travel to Kuwait is successful she says she will go next May and could stay there for up to four years before coming back to live in Ethiopia. Her dream is to one day open a hotel in Ethiopia and own a car.
Cashing in on coffee history
Above the jebena bunna in Addis Ababa’s coffee hierarchy are the established coffee houses such as Tomoca, luring passers-by inside with the smell of freshly roasted coffee since 1953. ‘Now is the right time to cash in on our history,’ said Wondwossen Meshesha, Tomoca’s operations manager. The company is planning to sell its roasted beans elswhere in Africa and beyond.
No time to waste
After rinsing each sini – a tiny coffee cup – and putting them back in her basket, Aster Endale quickly crosses the road, weaving between traffic, heading to find her next customers. Time wasted is coffee not poured and money not earned.
Author: James Jeffrey/mc
Editor: Marjory Linardy
Date26.01.2015 | 9:19