No Ordinary Coffee, No Ordinary Story.
What typically springs to mind when you hear the words, ‘school project’?
Maybe your children are older and you laugh remembering (through rose-tinted glasses) that troublesome double-sided sticky tape, those crimping scissors, the seemingly endless jars of glitter, and lots and lots of coloured paper. Alternatively, you groan as you recall the pressure to replicate, in papier mâché, that horses head, your child’s own face, or the eternal favourite – Mount Vesuvius, complete with bubbling lava.
Pupils at Tranby School thought that these kinds of projects were all well and good, but they were determined to up the stakes.
In a nutshell, or maybe a coffee bean, Safi Coffee was conceived in 2015 following a school trip to Uganda. For the ultimate school project, you need look no further than the story of Safi Coffee. So, make a cuppa, get comfortable and let me share the amazing story behind this seriously good coffee.
For Tranby, their introduction to Uganda began in 2009, when the Reverend Nigel Little visited to give talks at their school assemblies. Nigel is the chaplain of Felsted School in Essex, and a Kirima Trustee – the UK charity that collects sponsorship and donations for the schools and university in Kanungu, Uganda. Initially, Tranby sponsored twenty-five children before planning school visits to the region.
The trips continued bi-annually until 2015 when the group visited a local coffee plantation. While drinking the wonderfully aromatic, smooth tasting local coffee, the team, led by the then deputy head of the school, Chris Wainman, had an idea – what if they could somehow import the coffee to the UK and sell it? They heard all about how the coffee benefited from a range of organic attributes, which together with the favourably high altitude and magnificent rich soil, resulted in an exceptional blend. Exceptional as in, forget your high street options, but also exceptional in that it could do a lot of good for the people whose existence depended on it.
The coffee is grown in sites around the schools – the perfect chance to make a change for the children there and their families. Education is valued because it provides an opportunity to escape the cycle of poverty that pervades Uganda. For many this opportunity is out of reach owing to the cycle of hardship and children have to work from an incredibly young age in order to help their families survive.
On their return the group began the daunting task of managing this mammoth project. Just the simple matter of transporting the coffee to the UK, packaging and selling it.
The students have been given the unique opportunity to be actively involved in the business and our profits from the coffee sales head directly to Uganda and help fund children into education.
The word ‘Safi’ means ‘pure’ and ‘fresh’ in Swahili
Working with the team back in Uganda, the students set to work designing the branding and started to learn the fundamentals of advertising and marketing. They approached local businesses and applied for grant funds to enable them to get started. The project gained momentum and soon became integrated into the school’s daily life.
Alongside selling the coffee, the team also sourced the perfect coffee mugs, espresso cup and saucers and the Keep Cup - ‘The world’s first barista standard reusable cup.’ These items are for sale on the Safi website page. Orders are packaged by the team, under the guidance of Carrie Mertens, Director of Safi Coffee, before being posted out for delivery.
Chris Wainman, Headmaster at Silcoates and the former Senior Deputy Head at Tranby said, ‘what began as a small, pupil-led initiative selling coffee beans to coffee shops in Hull, quickly transformed into a national enterprise.’
The profits pay for Ugandan children to attend school
This unique project’s purpose is solely to provide funds to support children in Uganda. Not only for them to attend school, but also to provide accommodation, a uniform and access to healthcare. It costs just £180 for one child to have access to this for a year – a small amount for a lifechanging opportunity.