Eswatini's first coffee roastery: Mabuda Farm Coffee

Monday, 23 August, 2021

We were so thrilled when this year, we received an entry to A Shot in the Dark from Eswatini! Grant Johl was so enthusiastic about the project and unfortunately civil unrest in the country meant that they were unable to submit their roasted coffee for the competition. We asked him to give us some backstory on how Mabuda Farm Coffee began and we loved reading about what's happening with coffee culture in Eswatini. They actually grow coffee there too, which we had no idea about, so cool to discover new things in our global coffee community each day.

Mabuda Farm Coffee was born in October last year when an opportunity arose for me to shift focus from my medical career to my passion for coffee and use that to uplift people in our farm community in Siteki Eswatini.  Having grown coffee on our farm for the past 10 years, the opportunity to shift gears into growing, processing, roasting and serving specialty quality coffee in this small town and country was simply too good to let go!  

Fast forward 10 months and we find ourselves we having trained and empowered an impressive group of baristas working for us and our Mabuda Farm Coffee Partners.  

One such barista, Sibusiso Matsaba, is also our roaster.  He started working with us in October last year, having no previous exposure to or interest in specialty coffee.  With unemployment having moved beyond crisis levels last year, Sibusiso grabbed the opportunity to venture into this industry, knowing very little of what he was in store for!  We asked him a couple of questions for you to get to know him:

Name two ways you have grown personally since working in coffee at Mabuda

Working in coffee has taught me new skills, as well as helped me improve others.  It has definitely helped me realise the importance of and improve my time management.  

What does working at Mabuda Farm Coffee mean to you?

It means being able to put food on the table for my family. 

What are your goals for your career in coffee?

My goals are to become the best barista in Africa, and to teach Emaswati about coffee and in doing so increase the coffee drinking culture in our country.  

We’d be stoked if we could assist our fellow Emaswati who have and still are suffering greatly at the hands of the King and his governments forces.  For more information on what some incredible folk are doing in this regard, have a look at this website!

Looking ahead, we aim to further grow the coffee culture in this country and in doing so entice both locals and tourists to support local.  Our hope is to provide, protect and prosper the people of our community and country as a whole.

Name of Roastery:  Mabuda Farm Coffee

Name of Head Roaster:  Grant Johl

How did you get into coffee roasting?  I ventured into roasting coffee when I moved to a farm that was growing coffee last year, whilst taking a break from practicing as a medical doctor.  

What is your favourite coffee to roast currently?

Definitely the Uganda "Rwenzori Mountain" natural that we use in our Doctor’s Orders Blend.  It is challenging to roast but so bright and fruity when we get it right!  

If you had to drink one coffee for the rest of your life, what would it be? (Origin, varietal, processing, roast profile)

I can’t remember any details other than the Geisha that Winston Douglas used in the 2017/18 barista champs.  It was insane.  

What has been your favourite moment in coffee?

Having the baristas that I have trained, pull and pour better coffees than I can!  

Tell us one of your favourite songs! 

Molweni by Mandisi Dyantyis, his voice is mad.  

If you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?

My wife’s home-made burgers with freshly baked buns, rocket and lemon-tahini dressing.  I'm already drooling. 

Where can we find your roastery?

On our farm, in Siteki Eswatini. 

Can we buy your coffee online?

Soon, hopefully soon!  

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