“When you want something really bad, the universe conspires to ensure that you get it.”
Those were the words of Mbula Musau, my instructor for the Arabica Q grader course, after I shared my experience in the world of coffee. There can never be a better explanation for the happenings over the past months in my journey to becoming a certified Arabica Q grader.
Earlier this year, my brother in law sent me a link on Facebook about a coffee training center in Kenya. It was Utake Coffee. I determined that I had to be in this training center at some point. I have been training other farmers around Mt. Kenya region on how to improve their coffees, both on the farm and at the processing level. But I have never been confident enough to give an answer on cup quality. The Arabica Q grader course at Utake coffee could never have come at a better time.
I decided to pay Utake Coffee a visit. And that’s when I first met Mbula Musau. She was on her way to the airport but had decided to pop in and get something from her office. Being based in Uganda, Mbula is rarely in her Kenyan office. This day was beyond chance. Me having come more than 200 kilometers from the farm and get to the lab at the same time as the Instructor who was on her way to the airport at a time when there was an upcoming course in less than two weeks was beyond chance. I learnt of an upcoming Q grader course at a time when I was working on an assignment from Timothy Hill of Counter Culture Coffee in the USA. The universe could not have conspired more when Tim proposed a sponsorship from Counter Culture as part of my pay for the assignment.
My journey in specialty coffee started back in 2013 when Timothy Hill of counter culture coffee first visited Kamavindi coffee. I had quit my Job as an accountant in the capital city Nairobi, late in 2012 to do what I loved most, farming. Tim’s visit to Kamavindi came at the right time. The coffee I was producing wasn’t fit for him to buy… but he still came. It was the first time someone walked into Kamavindi and talked to us about quality. We talked about best practice, coffee varieties, how processing affects quality…all, not into detail, but still so much was new to me. The next day, Tim was back at Kamavindi. This time, he wanted me to go cupping coffee at a dry coffee mill. My first cupping experience wasn’t fun. The taste of coffee without sugar or milk had never been a thing for me and the fact that I could barely taste the difference between the coffees on the table made it even worse. But it lit a fire in me. My first cupping brought forth a desire to understand coffee at the new level. Four years later, I found myself at Utake coffee. I tackled the modules and exams with zeal and enthusiasm, and by the end of the 6 day course, passion and determination paid off. I obtained the dream Q Grader Qualification! As I face the coffee industry with my new skills, I don’t know what the future holds. But I know for sure that I am burning with a desire to perfect what I love doing. And that the universe will always conspire to ensure that I get exactly what it is that I really want!