Business

UNFOLD: The African coffee chain, Cafe Neo

Africans are low consumers of the world’s second most traded commodity that might have been originated in their continent. Originally coffee was a cash crop grown for export in Africa. But there seems to be more of a strong tea drinking culture than that of coffee.

The leading coffee producers in Africa are Kenya and Uganda.

There’s a growing presence of coffee culture emerging in recent times giving rise to local coffee shop chains across the continent such as Cafe Neo.

There’s a huge demand for coffee beans that have special characteristics, a unique flavor and taste due to the microclimates and soils they’re grown in, called specialty coffee. Specialty Coffee, which now accounts for one of every two cups of coffee consumed in America, and makes up 40 percent of coffee supply in Europe. Africa is quite famous for its Specialty Coffee beans.

With a pervading café culture in urban areas, and a strong emerging middle class, the future for coffee in Africa couldn’t be brighter. Africa’s coffee business is starting to get into better shape.

In July 2016, Starbucks – the world’s leading coffee retail giant – announced a deal with a local franchise to run Starbucks cafés across South Africa for the next 25 years. To understand the essence of the affluence of  Africa’s coffee, Ethiopia – Africa’s largest coffee producer – has 5,000 different strains of Arabica, the world’s most sought-after coffee variety. By contrast, countries such as Brazil and Colombia only have about 20 strains.

Cafe Neo was launched in 2014 by two brothers,  Chijioke and Ngozi Dozie. The founders of Cafe Neo saw coffee as a gift to Africans, a gift that shouldn’t just be exported but also consumed by Africans.

Neo in latin means “new”, while in Tswana, the language in Botswana, means ‘gift’. Cafe Neo is offering a new approach to coffee, a way where Africans can consume what they produce.

Cafe Neo, whose coffee is procured from the shores of Lake Kivu, is the largest coffee chain in West Africa and the fastest growing on the continent. Cafe Neo, who currently has 13 outlets spread over Lagos raised $250,000 alongside BigCabal from the Lagos Angel Network during their first Lagos Startup DealDey event in 2016.

Cafe Neo aspires to provide the most desirable coffee in Africa, whilst providing an eclectic space filled with African-themed decor and artwork, managed by friendly baristas. This space is accessible to guests seeking to ideate, create, meet great people and of course drink amazing coffee. Cafe Neo already has a cult following in Lagos and Kigali and seems to be at the vanguard of an African coffee revolution.  

Cafe Neo personifies the transformation ongoing in the African continent, one they are exhibiting through a new approach to coffee in Africa. Cafe Neo is about about building communities around powerful ideas, with strong links to entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation as much as it’s looks to become the largest coffee chain in Africa.

Not long ago Cafe Neo began to notice a phenomena in its shops around Lagos, were people came into an outlet to use free power and use their space without making a purchase. It seems some people regard the business as more of a free work space than a coffee shop.

Might the almost absent coffee culture in Nigeria be the reason for this phenomena?  is it their pricing or both?

The ambience Cafe Neo provides is a major reason people troop in to its outlets. While the cafe has a wide range of products such as juices, paninis, pastries and salads for people who aren’t so much in love with coffee. It needs to help people understand that it’s menu is capable of catering to anyone’s need.

Since promoting a coffee culture is part of Cafe Neo’s aim, then having people come into any of their outlet is a positive thing. All that is left is to get them to see how great coffee can be. Even though work events and social events are held in some Cafe Neo Outlets, They can start with tasting parties, where new varieties of their coffee and food are served. This might not be the right answer to these issues, but it is a start.

Cafe Neo’s management introduced an hourly-purchase policy in the most subtle way that deserves an applause. All in the hopes to ensure better user behaviour, one where they will patronise the brand and not just make use of its resources.

cafe neo coffee

Cafe neo’s new policy

Cafe Neo needs to start understanding the buying behaviour of the users that come into its shops and develop better marketing strategies. It goes without saying that they have a management who is capable of bringing the brand to the fore.

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