The Herald E-Edition

Gqeberha barista academy wins top award

● More than 400 people already trained, with 90% finding jobs

Weekend Post Reporter

Gqeberha’s Red Band Barista Academy recently received one of the highest accolades of success in the national coffee industry.

The academy was announced the winner in the “Dedication to Education” category of the national Coffee Magazine Awards.

Academy co-founder Shaun Aupiais said winning the award was a wonderful surprise and a great affirmation of the work they did in training baristas across SA and Uganda.

“We are very proud to be part of the bigger national coffee

lighting it up family. Our focus is the people — the love of the people and the fact that coffee can restore hope, bring people together, help people find their livelihood and what they want to do with their lives.

“In many cases, we find the barista training we offer to be a stepping stone to something even bigger for the baristas, and their families,” Aupiais said.

The academy, which was started in 2014 with its headquarters in Gqeberha, has an employment rate of more than 90% for its graduates.

“We have had amazing success from course to course, with almost everyone being employed. Sometimes their barista training skills open up other doors because a barista needs to have a certain personality. We have seen them flourish in many different roles — from entrepreneurship to sales and marketing in various industries such as retail and hospitality,” Aupiais said.

Selected from more than 1,200 nominations received by the organisers from across SA, the Red Band Barista Academy was initially shortlisted for the Dedication to Education category earlier this year.

This was followed by a judging process during which a panel of industry professionals and past winners decided on the winners of the 18 categories of the prestigious SA coffee awards in Cape Town on December 3.

The academy is a project of the Leva Foundation, a social upliftment not-for-profit organisation based in Gqeberha.

Leva Foundation CEO Ryan le Roux said collaboration had been key in growing the academy not only in SA, but also spreading to the rest of the continent.

“We have trained more than 400 baristas across our academies, and in total we have five academies in SA and one in Uganda. We are looking for further opportunities all the time, and this award will definitely motivate us to do even more,” Le Roux said.

In Cape Town the academy has also been involved with barista training as part of a prison rehabilitation programme.

The academy spread its wings to Uganda in 2018, with these barista graduates making a name for themselves in the region and becoming increasingly sought-after employees in Kuwait and Abu Dhabi.

“Training baristas is an incredibly rich and rewarding experience since it restores, revitalises and refreshes people’s lives by helping them find their purpose and passion,” Aupiais said.

“It is amazing to see the impact of coffee on the employment sector — that is why we have this saying: ‘a coffee bean changed my life’.”

In August the Red Band Roasting Academy was established to train unemployed young people in the art of coffee roasting.

Already recognised by the national coffee industry, they were announced as one of the top 10 winners of Coffee Magazine’s national roasting competition, A Shot in the Dark.





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