Martha and Leecox, the two founders, were both born and raised in Kenya but had different paths to Kikwetu.
For Martha, the smell of Kenyan coffee is very nostalgic. The aroma invokes a lot of childhood memories in her. "My parents would take me along on their frequent trips to the local coffee shop in Nairobi. They would nibble on popular delights like mandazi, a version of a Kenyan donut, while sipping on freshly ground and brewed Kenyan Coffee", she recalls. "I can still remember sitting at a table eating my mandazi with a glass of passion fruit juice , watching my Dad flip through the newspaper with his cup of steaming coffee in his hand. The Coffee house was always full of people sitting in small groups talking and sharing stories, discussing politics, while in the background, the sound of coffee machines and grinders hummed away".
Leecox did not became a coffee drinker until his second year in College in the US. He learned to conceal its unwelcome taste using lots of sugar and embraced it purely as a stimulant that was necessary to propel him through a rigorous schedule of work and school. That all changed one day when he stopped into a new coffee shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Because there was free Wi-Fi and the space was very inviting, he chose to sit down. "About ten minutes later", he recalls, "I was sipping the most flavorful and aromatic coffee. I finished my first cup and hurried back to the counter for a refill". "Where is this coffee from?", he asked the sprightly owner that was busy preparing the next customer's coffee. "Oh, its from Kenya", came the reply. He was dumbfounded! Strangely, leaving Kenya had allowed him to fully appreciate Kenyan coffee.
Journey to Kikwetu
When they met in 2004, they were of course delighted to learn of this shared interest. Together, their explorations of coffee and tea continued. They visited many coffee shops in many cities, met lots of interesting people and witnessed first-hand the power of coffee shops to connect people and elevate communities. In addition, she was reflecting on the fact that her mother had always wanted to start a coffee and tea shop but unfortunately never got to it. The idea of starting a coffee business slowly began to form in each of their minds. Over months as their relationship deepened, so did their plans for a coffee business. As the years flew by, the plans have remained. Evolving and morphing but refusing to go away. Kikwetu Kenya Coffee Company was finally born in 2014.
Kikwetu is a Swahili word that translates to 'our home', 'our place' or 'where we live''. We want to connect people to the best that Kenya has to offer starting with an amazing cup of coffee. In an increasingly fast-paced world where interactions are increasingly fleeting, we want to create a space where people irrespective of national origin can slow down, enjoy an amazing cup of coffee, have fun and meaningfully connect with other human beings.
Invigorating. We believe that your coffee and tea should always be a delightful experience. Whether you are at home, at work or in a coffee shop, you shouldn’t have to tolerate an unpleasant beverage simply to get through your day.
Global. We believe that a city shines to its brightest only when it seeks out and celebrates the best from the diverse people, cultures and stories that compose it. Differences between cultures and people should not be viewed as threatening, rather they should be highlighted and celebrated.
Connecting. We believe that real connections between human beings matter. That coffee and tea when properly unleashed have a unique power to connect, and empower individuals and communities around the world.