Ideation Corner: Episode 5: Katabazi has found a niche in specialty coffee

The Ideation Corner is a platform that features Ugandan entrepreneurs, thinkers, innovators, policymakers and academics to share ideas and ideas that inspire young people.

In this episode of The Ideation Corner, Founder Damali Ssali chats with Gerald Katabazi, “Uganda’s only specialty coffee barista”, about his journey to add value to local coffee and turn it into a business.

Gerald Katabazi is the founder and CEO of Volcano Coffee, a Ugandan specialty coffee.

He is very interested in changing the brewing behavior and coffee roasting culture in Uganda.

Gerald is also passionate about developing the skills of disadvantaged children so that they can participate in a paid way in the coffee value chain.

Gerald’s career began at Café Pap at the Kampala Serena Hotel and later at the Kigali Serena Hotel in Rwanda. He then worked with the Rwandan government, helping them to create Bourbon Coffee, which has since grown into a global brand.

After that, Gerald returned home to Uganda and started his own brand, Volcano Coffee. Gerald is an annual contributor to the World Bank Doing Business in Africa, which focuses primarily on coffee supply chains.

It has also garnered several accolades, including the Young Farmers Coalition Award, the Association of Coffee Baristas Award, the Authentic Coffee Roasters Award and the United Nations National Coffee Value Chain Award.

Gerald is also a member of Mandela Washington.


While the demand for specialty coffee, which receives a high price for its high quality and uniqueness, has increased especially in European countries, Uganda, one of the major coffee producers in Africa, has failed. not yet exploited this niche market.

Speaking on Damali Ssali Ideation Corner, Katabazi, who claims to be the only specialty coffee barista in Uganda, explains that specialty coffee follows growing consumer interest in the way coffee is brewed, as well as where, how and by whom the coffee was. grown up.

A barista is someone who specializes in preparing and serving a variety of coffee drinks. They usually work in cafes and other establishments where coffee and its variety of specialty drinks are served.

He adds that it is essential for specialty coffee growers to tell the story of their coffee, its origin and the other environmental and social aspects that surround it.

“There must be processes that are followed; the coffee is purely organic. No sugar or additives are added in specialty coffee and yet it is not bitter. It is also less acidic. We are here to brew experiences, ”Katabazi said.


Although it is mainly in the added value, Katabazi always makes sure that the farmer also benefits from the coffee business.

This explains why he ventured into specialty coffee to help improve the standard of living of farmers.

“I want consumers to understand the concept and embrace it; every time a consumer drinks a cup of specialty coffee, 50% of the value of that cup goes to the farmer because we want them to enjoy it. It’s a fair trade agreement, ”he explained.

He works with around 5,000 coffee growers in the Rwenzori, Elgon, Kisoro and West Nile regions.

“We work and act as a flagship brand to rename the cafes in these different areas. When we do marketing, we create an identity by using the footprints along the supply chain with this type of network, ”Katabazi said.

To transfer the skill of specialty coffee and popularize the drink in the country, Katabazi said that its cafe also has an academy where young people are trained and qualified in the best brewing behaviors using the concept of specialty.

“We are here to change the concept and definitely redefine the way coffee should be consumed,” he noted.

Katabazi explained that Volcano Coffee is also in the process of creating a model that will ensure that anyone coming out of the academy is fully equipped to create their own coffee.


Despite this, Katabazi expressed concern over low domestic coffee consumption in Uganda, estimated at only around 5%, despite Uganda being the second largest coffee producer in Africa after Ethiopia.

About 40% of the coffee produced in Ethiopia is consumed in the country.

“When you export raw coffee, you are even exporting jobs that would have been along the entire value chain, such as agriculture, milling, processing, logistics, roasting, grinding and packaging, among others. Let’s roast this coffee ourselves and consume it. In doing so, we will have a total experience, ”Katabazi explains.

In particular, he attributed the low-drinking coffee culture in Uganda to the mindset that Ugandans regard coffee as a cash crop and therefore they only sell it and do not consume it.

He called for increased awareness of the health benefits of drinking coffee.

Gerald Katabazi, Founder and CEO of Volcano Coffee

Katabazi told Damali Ssali Ideation Corner that he believes that promoting specialty coffee will promote domestic coffee consumption, especially among people who want to explore the experience that comes with it.


With over 15 years of coffee experience, Katabazi gives this heartfelt advice to anyone aspiring to become a coffee entrepreneur.

“Don’t be fooled by the imagination because the other brand is so big and that’s what you want to be. You can go wherever you are and grow big like that brand you admire. Network and understand the people and supply chain processes you intend to work with. The most important person in the coffee chain is the farmer. Make friends with the farmers and take the time to understand what coffee is exactly. That way you will be successful in this coffee business, ”he said.

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