One of the most important things an immigrant can do is to build bridges and connections. Kikwetu Coffee Company is our quest to do just this! We are on a journey to build a bridge between Kenya, where we were born and raised and Chicago, where we have made our lives.
Connections powered by Excellence
We started with a simple vision: to enable people of all walks of life to slow down, connect with each other over a high quality cup of coffee. This is what still powers us today.
Exceptional quality makes us slow, down from our daily race, it makes us stop, savor and pay attention.
Building, Fostering, enabling and uncovering human connections is the foundation for a just and sustainable planet. This belief is what powers us.
Meet the Team
Home: Lives in WoodLawn,Chicago. Raised in Nairobi, Kenya.
Responsibilities: I oversee product mgmt, catering and marketing operations, shipping & delivery, customer service and human resource management.
Passions: Ensuring that our customers experience the best at every touch point is my passion. I enjoy selecting and sourcing the best products, designing new specialty drinks, mentoring and building a service team that obsesses over customer experience. I am excited about creating an indelible mark in Chicago with Kikwetu.
Home: Wood Lawn, Chicago. Born
and raised in Nairobi, Kenya.
Responsibilities: To ensure that we build a profitable, impactful and enduring business that remains grounded in the principles and vision that inspired it. I oversee strategy, technology, finance, branding, marketing, Legal and risk management.
Passions: My passion is building bridges - with real human connections and exceptional quality coffee at the core.
He is dad to Martha and Grandpa to Zoe, Ari and Nia. He is an accomplished academic with a PhD in Horticulture from the University of Arizona and a Senior Fulbright Scholar that was named in the 'Who is who in the world' in 1998. For over 40 years, he has advanced the state of Agriculture in Kenya as a researcher, an academic and as a District and Division officer within the ministry of Agriculture. At Kikwetu is extremely proud to state that Prof. Itulya's early policy work did in fact lay the ground work for small scale coffee farmers to achieve more favorable returns for their hard work. Additionally, he has personally trained many of the professionals that have supported and enabled the progress of small scale coffee farmers over the years. For all of your questions about Kenyan coffee, please:
Born in Maragoli in Western Kenya, She Is mother to 5 (including Leecox) and Grandma to Nia, Ari and Zoe. She is a retired primary school teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching Swahili, English and other subjects across several schools in Nairobi and has also worked in administration as a head of school. Across her years in Kenya, she has been known to make the most delicious 'mandazis'- a Kenyan style donut that is the perfect complement for Kikwetu coffee.
Our three kids - Nia, Ari and Zoe are hard working members of the Kikwetu operation. They enjoy writing 'thank you cards' to our esteemed customers, voting on branding decisions and posing graciously for pictures. We are looking forward to watching their story unfold as part of the Kikwetu journey.
Head - Sustainability & Sourcing
I handle sourcing for Kikwetu Coffee Company and oversee the Kikwetu sustainability program. I am continuously working to enhance and develop initiatives that promote sustainable practices across the company's supply chain.
Director - Marketing & Event Operations
Home: Edgewater, Chicago.
I am responsible for creating memorable experiences for our customers at every touch point. I strive to ensure every event is a unique representation of our commitment to quality and authentic hospitality. For me, each day working for Kikwetu is an opportunity to connect with individuals, understand their needs, and exceed their expectations.
Director - Kitchen Operations
Home: Southshore, Chicago. Lived in Chicago for 25 years. Born in Bethesda, Maryland
I oversee efficient kitchen operations, manage kitchen staff and ensure that our food and beverage meet the highest standards.
I grew up in a variety of places, including Chicago, California, Tennessee, and Georgia. These experiences, alongside 20 years in the customer service industry, have
equipped me with a broad skill set and unwavering dedication to service
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, it's from Kenya", came the reply. He was dumbfounded! Strangely, leaving Kenya had allowed him to fully appreciate Kenyan coffee.