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Amani Kiflemariam of Amatte Coffee is Breaking Ground in the Hospitality Industry

Amani Kiflemariam of Amatte Coffee is Breaking Ground in the Hospitality Industry

Amani Kiflemariam of Amatte Coffee is Breaking Ground in the Hospitality Industry

Amatte is a new premium coffee brand that embodies Africa’s rich cultures and history of storytelling. It sustainably sources the finest Arabica beans from female farmers across the continent to create delicious single origin coffee and blends in the UK.

‘From the simple design embossed with a bold African print, an ode to the Founder’s Ethiopian heritage, once opened the sturdy package engulfed my senses with its sweet aroma. Perfectly milled, the caramel coffee grounds of ‘Queen Amina’s Blend’ part of the signature Royal Collection, was delicate and smooth to drink. With notes of orange, apricot, vanilla and citrus, this beverage was the perfect pairing to my morning croissant’ – Uchechi Eke Founder, Meeting of Minds UK

Amani Kiflemariam founded Amatte Coffee in 2019 and is doing ground-breaking things in sourcing organic coffee. Amani sat with me to share her entrepreneurial journey.

Amani Kiflemariam of Amatte Coffee is Breaking Ground in the Hospitality Industry

Amani Kiflemariam, Founder of Amatte Coffee

Tell us about your childhood and the origins of coffee

I was born in Eritrea. I lived in Sudan for nine years and then I moved to North-West London at age 9 and grew up there. Coffee is integral to Ethiopian culture. Coffee was discovered in Ethiopia in the 5th century. I do travel quite often to Ethiopia, both for family and because we have operations on the ground in Addis Ababa. We have our team there, who visit the female farmers, so, I go quite often – in fact I was there 3 weeks ago. I also go back to Eritrea and I was there about two years ago.

Where is the Amatte Coffee sourced?

The coffee is sourced from all parts of Africa. We have coffee from Rwanda, Congo and more. The reason our hub is in Ethiopia is because, besides it being the fastest growing African country, it is also where my team is based and it produces some of the best coffee in the world. Our contacts and connections are there in Addis Ababa and London.

How is your coffee organically sourced?

AMATTE’S ROYAL COLLECTION

AMATTE’S ROYAL COLLECTION

One of our core objectives is to be a leader in equality for women in line with the sustainable development goals of the UN

Our coffees are all direct trade, which is pretty much our own set of environmental and social governance indicators. So, my team on the ground measure the environmental and social impact – whether woman, education, investments in the community, equal pay and more. But with the organic element, we are saying that every coffee that leaves Ethiopia is organic and is also women’s coffee. 90% of the coffee workers are women in Ethiopia. In agriculture globally, it’s actually 70% of workers that are women. Yet these women are paid less than $1 per day.

They are carrying so much burden, the work is not just on the farms. They go home and are caring for the family and children and they are not treated equally. One of our core objectives is to change that and to be a leader in equality for women in line with the sustainable development goals of the UN. So, everything we do is in line with that. When we talk about fair trade, I find it interesting is because it’s a stamp and to get that stamp, it’s very expensive. So, 90% of these women who actually produce the coffee – the small growers if you like, cannot afford to spend £100 to get that recognition because the 90% of small growers only produce about 1 or 2 bags of coffee per year. This is about 60kl -120kl.

That’s not enough anyway. This is one of the reasons why we don’t just focus on fair pay because it’s not going to change their lives if you’re paying them more for their two bags of coffee when actually they need other assistance. That’s why the other thing we do is invest in the community. You can pay a female double, but what is the volume like? It’s not just to tick the equality box. You have to look at the underlying data.

So, if you invest in schools for her children, and you provide free health care or sanitary products, that’s what’s going to really have a positive change. That’s why we have set up the Amatte fund, which takes a percentage of every sale to invest into these communities. At the moment we are investing in a school in Ethiopia and the other two projects we are investing in are two orphanages.

Why did you launch with Amatte coffee?

We launched with Ammatte coffee because it’s a market we know very well. It’s embedded in my culture and I grew up making coffee for my grandmother. With the coffee ceremony, there are three servings and it’s always the youngest woman of the household who makes it and I was the youngest of five children.

We made everything in hand, washed the green coffee, roasted it- we had this special equipment for it, grinded the coffee, and then there’s a clay where the coffee is brewed and then served. So, this is a passion of ours and the reason why we launched with the coffee. It’s also where we can make the biggest impact by tackling gender equality with coffee.

What Does Amatte Mean?

It’s my grandmother’s name. It means to lead by example. My mum was always doing all these different jobs trying to raise five children on her own. My father passed away when I was four. I grew up in a single household so as a woman, my mum, you know Africans, take on so many responsibilities. So, my mum took on the role of a father and a mother and my grandmother also took on this role. My grandmother would run the household, ensure clothes were washed, and we were fed.

My grandmother was actually blind. She’s one of the smartest women I’ve ever met- it’s insane. She knows so much history. Everything that I am today I have to basically thank my grandmother and my mum. So Amatte Coffee is in a way dedication to her and it made sense because we want to lead by example.

When was Amatte Coffee founded?

So, we did a soft launch test and market in 2019/2020. I used to be an investment banker whilst running the business and I had a small team. I spent almost 11 years in investment banking in various banks in impact investing and environmental social government investing. So, three weeks ago, I left, and I have been working my whole entire life for this moment. This is my third week running the business full-time with the team.

So, at the moment we are a start-up. We tested the market and they reacted very positively. We have won awards against other top coffees. So, the coffee is absolutely delicious. Now we need to make sure that we can provide it in pods and get the right people to run it on a daily basis. So last year, we got a consultant to look at the whole approach and this year I have decided to basically invest everything I have into my business- including my time. So, this year and onwards is the year for Ammatte.

What one thing would you say is unique about Ammatte Coffee?

It’s a proud African brand, from an African woman. It is bringing the best products. It’s all about transparency. We want to have metrics and show people that Africa can produce a foods company which cares deeply about its supply chain and is not going to compromise on quality. That you can eat well and still do well and feel good about doing good for the world.

You can buy Amatte coffee here and follow them @Amattecoffee. A great option to invest on Black Pound Day, or any day!

Written By: Maxine Harrison our Business Editor. She is also a freelance writer and founder of the Remi Reports blog – a blog helping freelance creatives build their business and lifestyle.

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