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Uganda’s Volcano Coffee Set To Open Shop In USA

Gerald Katabazi, the CEO of Volcano Coffee, is roasting coffee for various players along the entire coffee value chain

Volcano Coffee Ltd, a Ugandan specialty coffee brand with interest in skills development, is set to open up a coffee shop in the United States of America (USA)

Gerald Katabazi, the Chief Executive Officer and founder of Volcano Coffee made the revelation during an exclusive interview with Business Focus at the company’s offices in Nakawa, Kampala.

“We are going to expand into the US market. By closure of this year, we shall have an outlet that sells Ugandan coffee in the US. We are trying to demystify the narrative that ‘you can’t roast at the country of origin and brew it in an external market,” Katabazi said, adding: “ Recently, we acquired an outlet in Ohio, US. So we are going to be roasting here in Uganda and brewing it in Ohio under the flagship brand ‘roasted in Uganda, brewed in the US.”

Katabazi, a professional barista who has been at the helm of promoting and championing domestic coffee consumption for over 10 years, says the company has expanded into training baristas and offering roasting services to Ugandans.

“We have added a roastery; we have expanded into roasting on a large scale and we have invested more into the skills development centre,” Katabazi says, adding: “We have an inclusion part where we are imparting skills to vulnerable people like the deaf so that they can also earn earning. We are also paying attention to young women.”

Previously, Volcano coffee was largely into brewing.

“We have a coffee shop that sells hot coffees and cold brews among others. We have high quality coffee,” Katabazi says, adding that his company that was founded in 2008 employs about 25 people in different departments.

Ibrahim Taremwa, a Sensory Trainer at Volcano Coffee

To further grow domestic coffee consumption, Volcano coffee recently unveiled a new packaging line where sachets of 20g of coffee are produced and sold at Shs500 for the end user.

Katabazi says the company took the move so that ordinary Ugandans can also have access to quality coffee.

“We don’t want to leave anyone behind. We want people at grass roots to access quality coffee at an affordable rate. There’s no quality compromise because after doing a thorough investigation and research, we realized most of the players have different contents packed in sachets. Our content which is in one kilogram is the same content that is in the 20g sachet. There’s no way you can farm what you can’t consume! We want every Ugandan to have a feeling of good Ugandan coffee,” he says, adding; “We want the entire coffee industry in the country to feel the heat of the eruptions of Volcano coffee at the consumption level.”

Katabazi says wholesalers can get the sachets from Volcano head offices in Nakawa or in Kikuubo, downtown Kampala.

He observes that Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) has added more energy to grow domestic coffee consumption by holding various cupping sessions and encouraging Ugandans to drink coffee.

He claims that coffee consumption that was less than 2% 10 years ago has since grown to 10% currently.

“Young people who don’t drink alcohol are looking for alternatives where to socialize and network from and coffee has come in handy;  they are thirsty for quality and well brewed coffee,” Katabazi says.

He says by 2030, domestic coffee consumption will have picked up to 25%.

He says 10 years ago, Uganda had only two roasters. Today, he says there are several roasters and coffee shops spread across the country.

On challenges faced by startups like Volcano coffee, Katabazi says taxes levied on processing equipment remains high. He says many players aren’t aware which equipment for value addition is exempted from taxes and as a result, many end up paying taxes which they shouldn’t have paid.

“There’s a challenge of education on tax issues; players don’t know which taxes they should or shouldn’t pay. We also largely import packaging materials but they are heavily taxed. Government should remove taxes on packaging materials because they are used for value addition,” Katabazi says, adding that Government should also deliberately encourage the establishment of packaging factories in Uganda.

He says he spends Shs4,300 on packaging materials for a kilogram of coffee. This, he says, not only makes coffee expensive, but also less profitable.


Taddewo William Senyonyi
William is a seasoned business and finance journalist. He is also an agripreneur and a coffee enthusiast.

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