Khayelitsha's first coffee shop opened

Mary-Anne Gontsana
What do a fireman, an employee at a towel factory and a coffee barista have in common? They all make up the Department of Coffee (DOC), a new intimate coffee shop in Khayelitsha.

Officially opened on the second of this month, DOC is situated opposite the train station in Ntlazane Street, at the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading building.

Wongama Baleni (23), Vuyile Msaku (25), and Vusumzi Mamile (24) run the coffee shop as partners. All hailing from Town Two, they took a risk by leaving their jobs, even though they were not sure if DOC would see the light of day.

Baleni, a father of a one-year-old boy, was a seasonal fireman for the last two years before leaving his job. He says it all started with a simple meditation and life skills class started by a non-profit company called Connect Community Development (CCD).

“I have always wanted to be a businessman. I met a guy called S’bu from the community project who introduced me to Murray who he worked with. Murray saw how determined we were to start our own business, he then approached his friends who are in business,” Baleni explained.

Baleni entered the programme with Mamile, who lives with his younger sister and worked at a towel making factory.

“Wongs and I have been friends for a while. When he approached me and told me about this business venture, I did not hesitate. I immediately told him let’s do it,” Mamile said.

Sibusiso “S’bu” Momoti from CCD said their organisation offered life skills and training to the Khayelitsha community. “We offered meditation as well, which helps in clearing the mind and helps people focus. Wongama had told me about his business ideas, and when I see them develop in their new business I feel happy and proud.”

Momoti worked together with Murray Ingram who is the one who approached friends and colleagues “to invest in young entrepreneurs”.

DOC is a pilot project of Ministry of Service Delivery (MOSD), which is a concept originated after a group of individuals came together and decided a hands-on approach to job creation was needed in South Africa.

“MOSD loaned the money to start DOC. It is all about bringing the informal sector into the community, but the business must be community owned. I am very proud of the guys and the DOC. I have been there and I love it,” Ingram said.

Baleni and Mamile said they were lucky because their third partner Msaku, was a coffee barista, so he had experience in the business.

“I originally wanted to start a décor business, but when I was told about the coffee idea, I was sold, and I told myself that I would take this risk. We struggled for a while before DOC started because we had quit our jobs and we were unemployed for a year and a few months. But because we were determined, we would sometimes go to town to meet with the MOSD group, and we would wait there for hours, with no transport money to go back home or any money for food. But all of that was worth it,” Msaku said.

It took small business training and hard work to finally open the doors of the coffee shop, with the trading hours being 04:00 to 18:00. They use their own “special” coffee brand, and get about twenty to thirty orders a day, physically delivered themselves. Orders come from the mall, banks, and other businesses around the area.

Their future plans for DOC, which was originally a security office, include getting chairs and tables for customers, music, gas heaters and breakfast specials.

“We are very happy with our business and it will only grow from here,” Baleni said.

With their cappuccinos being R8.50, I took my journalist cap off and ordered myself one. I watched as they quickly prepared it as a team. I took my first sip of the foamy hot drink, with six eyes looking back at me in anticipation. I swear my toes curled. Yes, the cappuccino was that good.


Submitted by Keith on

Great story, best of luck and continued success to expand on your ideas

Submitted by Leda Sweerts/ A... on

Well done boys, looking forward to seeing this project grow.

Submitted by Jac Coetzee on

I'll do my best to come and grab a coffee from you guys sometime next year. Great initiative! All the best.

Submitted by Joey Hasson on

At last! I have been waiting for you guys for the last 5 years. Well done on this brilliant initiative. You guys WILL succeed in business. Phansti Ricoffy! Phantsi! Now you guys need to get organising a delivery strategy to every organisation, school, clinic, restaurant, church and office in Khayelitsha. Call me on 082 374 655 if you would like any advice in this regard.

Submitted by dawn on

Can you please put up full number, this number has a digit missing and the coffee guys would like to contact you. Thank you

Submitted by Nathan Geffen on

I think Joey's number is missing another "5" at the end.

Submitted by Juanita on

That cappuccino looks great! Hope you go from strength to strength! :)

Submitted by Del Weston on

From Tasmania, Australia. Fantastic!!! Best of luck. We will visit your coffee shop when we're next in South Africa.

Submitted by Sibulele Stemele on

i really think that its its a good idea that they opend a coffe shop in a township, who would have though.

Submitted by Ofentse Mokae on

No better way of economic freedom. This is really groundbreaking, cementing innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Time after time we are reminded that SMMEs is the way to go to break the cycle of poverty and boast job creation. I really impressed on this initiative and as a Khalcha resident I'm extremely proud. BIG-UPS bafethu. I'm most visiting this joint.

Submitted by Sonia on

I'm so xcited for you guys and for the development thats happening in Khayelitsha, that's where I'm from. I'm happy and PROUDLY Khayalishian. Get the word out there.

Submitted by Robyn on

Wow, I frequent Khaya on a monthly basis and I'd love to pop around there for a cuppa! will keep an eye out for you! I heard about you on Cape Talk! super excited to support such an awesome initiative!

Submitted by Nceskido on

guys raised the flag of our kasie ,we always here how barbaric Town2 is ,you changed the mindsets of other people bigup from I grootie yenu

Submitted by Boabynola on

I used to read a great deal of books but now I surf the internet looking for really good blogs like this one to read. this was a good read thanks!

Submitted by sibusiso 'sbuda... on

Passion and commitment resulted to the success of your business guys, big up and make sure you grow the brand and create more job opportunies for other young people... I salute you!!!

Submitted by aden on

Where can I get hold of the contact details of Ministry of Service Delivery?

Submitted by Thekiso Motsei on

Where can I get hold of the contact details of Ministry of Service Delivery?