Since he was young, Sikelela Dibela has been passionate about contributing to an empowered and integrated community in his hometown, Khayelitsha in Cape Town.
Two years ago, he was able to bring this ambition to fruition through creating a coffee culture which served to unite people around their love of coffee. Siki started his entrepreneurial journey when he used the garage in his mother’s house to open his own business, Siki’s Koffee Kafe. Regular readers of Heavy Chef's newsletter may remember our Raw interview with him at his mom's place, earlier this year.
Siki, who worked in the local hospitality sector for several years used his extensive experience as a coffee barista at Vida to make his own special brand of coffee. ‘Siki’s Blend’ is a mix of African beans from Kenya, Ethiopia and Burundi.
Carefully selected from quality sources, the beans are roasted by Mzukisi Xhati, one of the best local roasters, who was trained in the United States.
Siki, who always had an entrepreneurial spirit, started as a dishwasher at Vida and then progressed to the position of barista and finally store manager. His passion, commitment and dedication to deliver memorable customer experiences resulted in him being seconded to London to open a Vida store and train staff on how to make the best coffee.
Soon after his return to Cape Town, he decided it was time to expand his horizons. To gain more experience he worked at a range of coffee shops across Cape Town. Over the years he realized that he did not want to be ‘the guy that only makes coffee’. He wanted to start his own business and the concept for Siki’s Koffee Kafe was born. As with any new venture he was faced with many startup challenges. After opening Siki’s, he spent many lonely days with few people coming to the shop, but as time progressed more young people in Khayelitsha started supporting his business.
Word soon spread about the amazing coffee and service and Siki’s has now become the new hotspot that attracts both locals and tourists to Cape Town. He now has a regular trade: a mix of locals and tourists that support his business.
Siki’s has also become a hub for township entrepreneurs and serves as a source of inspiration to the youth of Khayelitsha.
We caught up with Siki to ask him about the journey so far.
Siki, what do you love about coffee?
Firstly, I love the smell of good coffee. I love tasting different blends, there are so many flavours that you can get from coffee, my favourite is Cortado which is a shot of espresso with milk but it is smaller than a standard flat white.
Why are you so passionate about coffee?
Through my experience over the years, I saw coffee bringing people of all cultures together where they would meet, discuss and share ideas over a cup of coffee. I see an opportunity to educate people in the community of Khayelitsha about the different types of coffee that they can drink and enjoy.
What are the biggest hurdles you're facing as an entrepreneur?
The biggest challenges I’m facing are around how do I go about marketing my business and increasing my sales.
What is your BHAG?
My biggest dream is to start a Barista Training Academy. I want to empower my brothers and sisters in my community to be involved in the rising trend of coffee culture. There are so many opportunities in this industry and it provides a route to a satisfying career.
What do you love about business and about being an entrepreneur?
The challenges that come with the day to day running of the business, meeting other aspiring entrepreneurs and creative’s sharing the same goal of making a difference in our communities.
Paying it Forward
Two years down the line, it’s time to help Siki to expand his business and in turn, empower and contribute to skills development in the local community.
Siki is on the move: taking his brand to a wider audience, sharing his vision and passion for African coffee, bringing a smile to more and more people.
His journey of creating a coffee culture in Khayelitsha has only just started and we need your help to take his business forward. To help him on his business journey he needs more people to know about this great little spot, support his business and take his coffee to where the people are (markets, events, etc.).
Your support of Siki’s commitment and dedication will make a big difference in the lives of many. How you can help.
1. Siki’s first goal is to generate more exposure by not only selling his coffee at his shop, but by raising brand awareness of his coffee through exposing it to a wider audience in and around Khayelitsha. To realise this, Siki needs a transportable coffee machine and a car, which would cost him in the region of R80,000.
2. His second goal is to enhance his current coffee shop and make it a local social hub, where people come to socialize and exchange ideas. Areas that require some refurbishments include the seating area, roof and courtyard.
In addition, he would like to improve customers experience by introducing various food offerings such as sandwiches and snacks while enjoying their coffee. For this he would also need some kitchen basics such as a stove, toaster and plates. The cost to put this in place would be in the region of R 50,000.
How can you support Siki?
We pledged R600 to the cause. You can too - click here. From all of us at Heavy Chef, we support you brother!