Roaster aims to develop Nigeria’s coffee crop and culture

Nasra Ali, managing director of Kaldi Africa, is pictured in her company's tasting room in Lagos, Sept. 5, 2015. (C. Stein/VOA)

Nasra Ali, managing director of Kaldi Africa, is pictured in her company’s tasting room in Lagos, Sept. 5, 2015. (C. Stein/VOA)

Like many of its cash crops, Nigeria’s coffee sector has been neglected for years in favour of more lucrative commodities like oil. But one of the few commercial coffee roasters in the country plans to change that.

The coffee found on the streets and supermarkets of Nigeria is mostly of the instant sort, and almost always imported. But Nasra Ali thinks Nigerians are ready for something different.

A daughter of a Kenyan coffee family, she runs Kaldi Africa, which takes beans grown in eastern Taraba state and roasts them in a warehouse in the commercial capital Lagos to make perhaps Nigeria’s only local blend.

Homegrown brew

Ali is counting on the country’s rising consumer class to shun imports in favour of her homegrown brew.

“We are trying to see how to be able to be part of that growth, with our value addition and ensuring that we really are able to appreciate good coffee in Nigeria,” said Ali.

Agriculture was once a major part of Nigeria’s economy, but it fell by the wayside as oil production began dominating the economy in the 1960s.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said he wants to build up the agriculture sector, although he has yet to appoint ministers to carry that out.

Head of operations Alfred Mwai said one of Kaldi Africa’s goals is to work with farmers to improve the quality of Nigeria’s beans.

“Are you able to bring up practices that will really be able to process the coffee to … a quite clean level. Which will of course go to the next level of specialty coffee,” said Mwai.

In the meantime, the company hopes to not just win over customers, but to make good coffee a part of Nigerians’ morning ritual. – VOA