Selling tea and coffee in the heat

Archie Mokoka
SERVICE WITH A SMILE: Motlogelwa with another happy customer

It’s easy to believe that in Botswana locals do not care much for tea or coffee, especially in the blazing summer heat.

However, 29-year-old SeabeMotlogelwa is adamant there is a place for hot beverages in our society.

He notes that when elders arrive home tired and thirsty, they do not ask for a glass of water but a cup of tea.

The Thamaga native has done his research and is convinced it’s all about changing the mindsets of customers.

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“Tea and coffee are not winter drinks as we’ve been led to believe, but socializing, energizing and relaxing beverages,” he insists, before shooting to his feet to pour coffee for another customer.

His outdoor kiosk, Perfect Roast Coffee, located at Diamond Square in Gaborone’s Main Mall, sells tea and coffee based beverages and confectioneries to go with. Whether you want cappuccino, café mocha, latte, hot chocolate, or even iced teas and coffees, Motlogelwa has the perfect roast for you.

“It’s a small scale hot and cold tea/coffee convenient kiosk,” is how he describes his bustling enterprise.

The venue is perfect for relaxation. There are books and a chessboard laid out on the artsy pallet furniture. The pallet themed relaxation park, designed by KagoMonageng as a pop up for creatives,was perfect for Motlogelwa when he stumbled upon it back in July last year.

Motlogelwa has always loved tea, especiallyFive Roses, but it never occurred to him that one day he would be serving hot drinks for a living.

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In fact he admits that when he enrolled at the University of Botswana to study for a Diploma in Library and Information Studies, he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life.

“I went to university just for the sake of it. I’m not much into academics, I’m more of a practical person instead,” he explains simply.

It was a trip to a coffee shop at the university’s campus that was to change the course of Motlogelwa’s life forever. Instantly a light came on and he knew what he wanted to do.

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“That was it for me. I started frequenting coffee shops and doing research on the subject. I immersed myself in it so much so that I could understand.”

Though he acknowledges his library studies for helping him with research and opening his mind, he eventually decided the world of libraries was not for him.

While at his home village Thamaga he volunteered at the local library and realised this was not how he wanted to spend his life. From there, he worked in different departments of restaurants and coffee shops for the next five years in a bid to understand the tea/coffee industry.

His education, which he thought would be short, took longer than anticipated due to a mixture of procrastination, lack of confidence and falling into the comfort zone of employment.

Eventually, after much soul-searching, he told himself it was now or never if he wasgoing to start his own business.

“I left my last job in March 2019 and made a conscious decision not to look for another job. The passion was burning and I had already acquired the machine for the business and started looking for an ideal place.”

With the perception that coffee is for white and rich people, Motlogelwa anticipated his business would endure a slow start. Instead, he had a pleasant surprise waiting for him.

Though he still had a lot of work to change minds, he says the venture grew quickly.

“When I started I expected to be hungry and struggling for at least three years but it became sustainable in a short time,” he reveals proudly.

Though his business is satisfactory, it is not without challenges.

Due to demand he would like to start a delivery service to offices but he is still alone and it’s not easy find the right assistant or finance needed for this expansion.

“It would be easy to find an assistant but I’m not just selling coffee here but an experience. I can’t afford negative feedback,” he stresses.

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Motlogelwa is not dreaming about a chain of coffee shops in his expansion plan, but just wants to create a chain of similar coffee kiosks across the country.

If the ambitious youth has his way, in five years you might enjoy a cup of Perfect Roast in a town hundreds of kilometers from Gaborone.

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