By Danny Warburton
Four and a half years ago my good friend, Joe Walker, and I were sat round my kitchen table discussing our increasing passion for cycling. We were looking to do long distance rides and perhaps an adventure that would take us to another European capital. At the same time Joe was trying to figure out ways to increase fund raising for Street Action. Put the two together and you have a charity ride, where we push ourselves on the bike while making a difference through the money we raise. Now having completed its fourth edition the Cycle Challenge for Street Children has raised over £57,000. It has been a pleasure for me to lead a motley crew of cyclists each year.
The money raised has predominately focused on supporting projects for our partner New Generation in Burundi. Last year it was to start a social enterprise cafe on the New Generation where profits would fund the street children projects and therefore making New Generation more self sustainable. Furthermore the cafe can provide employment and training for former street children.
As someone who has managed cafes in London for the past 5 years on the the crest of the wave of good cafes opening in the capital, it caught my attention that this was something I could be involved in. Coffee, done well, can be a very pleasurable experience. However, the problem is that coffee done poorly, which is very easy to do, can be worse than no coffee at all. The point is that cafes are a good idea for a business, but they are a tricky beast where knowhow and experience are important to ensuring success.
The tree cafe opened earlier this year. It was quickly identified that without a espresso machine people would visit, politely try the coffee that was made on a small domestic machine and not return. This year the London to Land’s End cycle ride raised money to fit out the cafe with an commercial espresso machine and all the gear that goes with it. This is the fairly simple part. The difficult part is operating it and understanding how to make a good cup of coffee.
I have recently got back from a two and half week trip to Bujumbura where I delivered the espresso machine and trained 10 people to be baristas. Currently the cafe is serving coffee and the staff are very passionate about the process. They will get better and better at it. There are a few good cafes in Bujumbura, but currently all the head baristas are from outside Burundi, for example Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. It is exciting to think that there will be a new breed of Burundian baristas! Furthermore, in a country that produces some quality coffee there is scope for a great connection of crop to cafe.
I hope to go back in the new year to further the progress at the cafe.
Read updates from the cafe on twitter @brewundi