Emmanuel Wawire roasting coffee
Emmanuel Wawire is a coffee Roaster and Barista at Kuwait based Earth Roastery. The Middle East company is buying Uganda Coffee ( Bros coffee) which won the recent Uganda-UK Arabica coffee cupping competition.
Uganda coffee is Earth Roastery’s fastest selling coffee.
Wawire was trained by Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) as a barista and roaster in 2011. He recently showcased his skills at the just concluded World of Coffee Expo held from 12th to 14th January 2022 at the Dubai Exhibition Centre, United Arab Emirates (UAE). In an exclusive interview with Business Focus, Wawire shares his interesting story.
Below are the excerpts of the interview;
Qn: Briefly tell me who Emmanuel Wawire is?
A: I am a Mugisu from a humble family of Mr and Mrs Wandulu, born and raised in Kisugu, Namuwongo, a Kampala city suburb. I went to Kampala SS and Tropical High School for Ordinary (O) and Advanced (A) level respectively. I am q-grader, quality controller, barista and a roaster and a sensory judge. I am currently working with Earth Roastery in Kuwait as a roaster and barista.
Qn: What inspired you to become a roaster and barista?
A: During my quality control classes , I met this charming and vibrant gentleman called Vincent Matovu, who was roasting coffee samples for cupping. I got inspired from him; the way he was doing his work and showcasing his roasting skills at that time motivated me. I said to myself that when I get a chance, I would like to roast like him and make a good roaster. Thank God I am now good at it.
Qn: You’re are a UCDA trained roaster. How critical was this training to your career as a roaster and barista?
Qn: I would like to thank UCDA for not only sponsored my roasting, but also quality control and barista courses back in 2011.
If it wasn’t UCDA, I wouldn’t have afforded the tuition for these courses as they are extremely expensive for a person from a humble family like me. We are quite many who benefited and earned ourselves careers.
It’s from this roasting skills that I got my first roasting job, thanks to Edmund Kananura (RIP) who employed an inexperienced person in me then in his company Nile coffee.
I learnt a lot and my roasting skills improved enormously. He was a quality manager by then and allowed me to stay at UCDA and do voluntary work. This helped me a lot because I met so many people with different coffee skills that I learnt from.
A number of people have had a hand in my career; Fidel Bakomeza is outstanding when it comes to sensory, barista Clare I can’t thank you enough. Vincent Matovu, Doreen, Jane, Usher, Beatrice and many others have helped me a lot. I am proud to say I am a product of UCDA.
Qn: So how did you end up at Kuwait based Earth Roastery?
A: Earth Roastery is owned by Ali Alfahad. Some years ago, he visited Ugandan farms in search for quality coffee. He mainly visited Mbale and Kapchorwa. That’s how we connected.
Qn: I presume you roast coffees from various countries. How do you rate Uganda coffee globally in terms of quality?
A: I rate Uganda coffee so highly. Now I am talking about Arabica in this context. Clients appreciate it so much mostly because of its unique flavours. The only challenge we face is inconsistency in the production and supply of speciality coffee. Thanks to Dison Kareng of Bros coffee at least he has tried to supply us coffee that compete on the global market.
Qn: What key factors have made you a successful roaster?
A: The room to stay a student all the time has been key. This keeps me learning on a daily basis. The people within the coffee industry must research, have perseverance, discipline and opportunities to access the machines. I also always concentrate on my work.
Qn: What key lessons do you have for roasters back home who want to work with big global Roasteries?
A: Let them stay focused on what they want. Discipline is a key factor and they shouldn’t depend on somebody to pursue their dreams. They must focus on learning a skill rather than looking at getting money first, simply because when you’re skilled, it puts you in a position of bargaining for a better salary or even start your own business. Let them avail themselves with knowledge by doing research and think ahead rather than the ‘now’ perspective.
Qn: How important are roasters in a far as a good quality coffee cup is concerned?
A: Imagine the coffee value chain was a relay race in which the first runner is the grower, the second is the roaster, the last is the barista, and the baton is coffee. If the baton is dropped when being passed, it is unlikely that the team will win, right?
Now as roaster, I will exhibit my craftsmanship to bring out the distinctive flavour complexity and balance through applying desired heat and air flow over time. However, like I said we need each other in the chain.
Qn: How do you procure quality coffee from Uganda?
A: We deal directly with the farmers. This has helped us with the consistency of the quality of coffee we receive every season.
Qn: How do you see the potential of Uganda coffee in the Middle East?
A: Uganda coffee has a huge potential in the Middle East and we should think of promoting it the most because people like it in espresso and cold brew.