Sihle Magubane, who is from iNkandla in KwaZulu-Natal, started his business in 2012. He currently owns two cafes – Barista Lovers – in Northriding and Woodmead in Johannesburg.
Sihle Magubane, owner of Sihle’s Brew, SA’s first black coffee brand. Image: Sihle’s Brew / Facebook.
Author: Tebogo Mokwena
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From being a barista, working for a large coffee making company and eventually owning his own brand, Sihle Magubane owes his success to his patience while waiting for the best coffee brew. Magubane now owns Sihle’s Brew, which is South Africa’s leading black coffee brand. The company employs 18 people and three more staff are expected to join the team soon.
Magubane, who is from iNkandla in KwaZulu-Natal, started his business in 2012. He currently owns two cafes – Barista Lovers – in Northriding and Woodmead in Johannesburg.
Magubane also supplies its brand of coffee to large retailers like Spar and Food Lover’s Market. The coffee expert makes his own ground coffee with beans he sources from Central America, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Guatemala and Brazil. With these, he produces five signature blends of 100% Arabica, including the Original (light chocolate caramel with a hint of tropical fruit) and the Signature (hazelnut dark chocolate with a spicy note).
Magubane told Vutivi News his journey started in 2003 when he was employed in Durban.
“While working as a barista for different stores, I was trained by Roberto Monterrage, who taught me everything I know about coffee,” he said. “I also worked as a coffee products specialist in the retail sector before joining Ciro Coffee. I have also studied various courses in the coffee industry and received certification and accreditation.
Magubane said that after being sufficiently armed with the necessary experience and knowledge, he decided to start his own business. “I opened my first cafe in Northriding and in 2018 I received funding for equipment manufacturing from the Small Enterprise Development Agency which helped me enter the retail market.” , did he declare.
“We currently supply 32 Food Lover’s Market stores and seven Spar stores across the country. We also just got a contract with Pick n Pay to make unbranded coffee and sell our own brand through them. Magubane said entering the retail market takes a lot of patience and persistence.
“It took us three years to sign up for the Pick n P contract and four years to complete the Food Lover’s Market deal,” he said. “It was easy to get the deal done with Spar because they have buyers everywhere who will decide whether they will accept the product or not.”
Magubane believed that meeting industry standards was the reason for its success.
“Compliance has helped the business. Even though it took me a while, it was worth it because it opened doors for me, ”he told Vutivi News. “I also learned to be patient, especially when trying to compete in the retail market. It’s not easy to compete with the big brands of coffee, and without hard work it’s hard to be successful on faith alone. “
Magubane said his businesses have been so successful that many companies have offered to buy them. But he rejected them all.
“The amounts of money offered by companies were tempting, but I wondered if I wanted to cash in or start a business that would support my family,” he explained. “I decided to keep my faith and continue on the path. If I failed, I would have failed to try. “