A stainless steel kettle in one hand and plastic cups in another, the young woman at Muthurwa market in Kenya’s capital Nairobi walked from one trader to another asking if they were going to drink her coffee.
They bought the drink in droves making her rush to fill the kettle at a makeshift kitchen she had erected at a point in the market.
Ruth then returned and sold more, with some traders taking several cups of the steaming drink to beat the cold weather. At least four of her competitors at the market too made frantic efforts to satisfy their customers.
The cold weather has handed the traders booming business, with demand for hot coffee running the entire day.
On normal days, the traders would sell the drink mainly in the early morning and in the evening. But now they have customers the entire day, thanks to the cold weather.
It is cold in Nairobi, with the city experiencing what is referred to as Kenya’s winter. According to the meteorological department, Nairobi is cool and cloudy, with day temperatures standing at an average of 22 degrees Celsius and night temperatures falling to about 14.
The cold weather has, thus, pushed Nairobi residents to the edge, with many dressing heavily to beat the biting chill.
“This cold weather is good for business,” said Frida Atieno, another trader as she sold me a cup of coffee.
“I now come here at Muthurwa market early in the morning and leave late evening because people are drinking coffee throughout the day,” she added.
She makes the drink by boiling water and adding in five sachets of instant coffee. She then adds sugar and stirs.
From the 10-litre kettle, Atieno gets more than 50 cups of the drink, making it a profitable business.
“The only problem is that competition is tough. More people have now switched to the business to cash in on the cold weather, thus, you can make coffee and fail to sell,” she explained, noting that she has her own customers since she has been in the business for sometimes.
However, it is not only on the streets that the business is booming; the tens of coffee shops in Nairobi are now teeming with patrons, particularly in the evening.
A cup of coffee, depending on whether it is brewed or instant, white or brown and the location of the shop, is going at between 0. 6 dollars and 3 dollars in the central business district.
“More people are coming to drink coffee, particularly in the evening after work. We are always full in the evening,” said Gilbert, an attendant at a coffee shop in Mama Ngina in Nairobi.
Coffee is one of Kenya’s main cash crops, with farmers mainly producing Arabica variety, which is highly valued in the international market as it is used for blending other coffees.
According to the Coffee Board of Kenya, about six million people are employed directly or indirectly in the coffee industry, and Kenyan coffee is world-acclaimed because it has a “distinctly bright acidity and potent sweetness with a dry winy aftertaste.”
In the past, Kenyans had shunned the drink because it is expensive but the coffee craze swept the East African nation few years back, particularly Nairobi, where there are hundreds of coffee shops.
Last year, Kenya sold 3,537 metric tonnes of coffee at an average price of 4.36 dollars, according to Kenya National Bureau of Stations. Enditem