Jeffreys Bay coffee roastery rides wave of success to national retailer deal

Percy Chikwira. Image: Supplied

Percy Chikwira. Image: Supplied

Published Jun 9, 2024


FROM the surfing hub of Jeffreys Bay, a small coffee roastery has ridden on the wave of demand for the universally popular beverage to grow from roasting 5 tons of beans annually to almost 30 tons less than a decade later.

The journey of boutique coffee company Infood Coffee Roastery began in 2012 as an offshoot of Infood Bakery and Deli, after then-barista Percy Chikwira’s interest in coffee was piqued by competing in competitions and making his own blends.

Today, managing director Chikwira and Infood CEO and owner Jayne Debra Davies see that their unique blends are not only supplied locally but have been growing on Pick n Pay’s shelves since their launch in 23 stores in February.

“We started with a 2kg roaster in 2012 but as our volumes grew we had to expand both equipment and premises, adding a 6kg and 15kg roaster,” said Chikwira, who holds a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Coffee Excellence from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and has used his expertise to help various brands establish more than 40 coffee shops around South Africa in the past decade.

Chikwira’s passion comes to the fore as he explains that roasting is “part art, part science, with a lot of chemistry involved”.

“My favourite coffees are my blends, which are like my children. The Infood House Blend is my favourite, as my first child, but I love the story behind The Bomb blend, which explains the waves at world-famous Supertubes surfing spot.”

Partnering with Pick n Pay has not only broadened Infood’s reach but also facilitated with the necessary accreditations, such as food safety and social audit certificates responsibility, which is needed to list with any retailer.

“Pick n Pay’s Enterprise and Supplier Development Programme has been instrumental in navigating the intricacies of the retail market," said Chikwira.

Infood was referred to Pick n Pay by the owner of the local Jeffreys Bay store, who wanted to stock the range.

“We saw the value of their products and extended it to other regions when we listed them as a supplier,” said Pick n Pay Small Business head, Mark Bandi.

“Supporting small entrepreneurs is an integral part of Pick n Pay’s business strategy and our Enterprise and Supplier Development Programme assists selected businesses to enter the retail market by guiding them over the final hurdles to get their products on our shelves.”

To meet Pick n Pay’s demand for the Infood House Blend, The Bomb, Surfers Breakfast and Mocha Java flavours, Infood has purchased an even larger 30kg roaster, and three employees, including Chikwira, roast imported green beans to make the popular coffees.

“We source our beans from all over the world and require certificate of origins and sustainability certifications. When the beans arrive, we assess them for moisture content and other defects for quality control, looking at size and density before we roast them.”

With Pick n Pay’s backing, Infood Coffee Roastery’s production has scaled up and they hope to go into even more stores.

In September, the business will move into new premises with warehousing for storage and roasting of beans, facilities for barista training courses, a retail section for coffee and machines and a machine service area.

“The coffee shop will sell an experience, with tastings of coffees of different origins rather than your standard cappuccino.”

The staff complement will triple from six to around 18, and the business will hire and upskill locals.