We are a small family owned specialty grade coffee company based in the south side of Chicago. Members of our team had different paths to Kikwetu but are united in their labor of love to establish a coffee company with a difference.
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, it's from Kenya", came the reply. He was dumbfounded! Strangely, leaving Kenya had allowed him to fully appreciate Kenyan coffee.
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.
The three amigos
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.