How did Changamiri Coffee Company come about? After several years of working in the financial industry, first in Zimbabwe and then the United Kingdom, I walked away the sector disillusioned after witnessing first hand the devastating and ugly side of unrestrained capitalism during the financial crisis of 2007/08. I found myself taking an interest commodities and as a coffee lover, the commodity made its way to the top of what I was doing.

In 2016, a London coffee merchant asked me if I could get my hands on some Zimbabwean coffee bean which had vanished from the market but was quite a favourite and sought after in years gone by. I got on a plane to find out what was happening with coffee production in Zimbabwe. A meeting was arranged and facilitated by the Zimbabwe Coffee Mill for me to meet with with some farmer representatives who were at the time also lobbying the government on reviving the coffee industry in Zimbabwe.

The meeting changed EVERYTHING! The farmer representatives told me of how after the land redistribution programme of 2000 they had lost access to international markets. Coming from the financial industry where I dealt with ridiculously big numbers staring at a computer, with no real interaction with any personal life stories the numbers represented, the passion with which the farmers spoke totally changed the way I viewed the world. I had found my WHY. I left that meeting convicted that I must do everything I could, using every advantage I had, to assist the farmers to not only get back on their feet, but to ensure the world is reunited with the unique taste of Zimbabwe’s fine coffees.

Picture: Steve Chitsora at his coffee drying table in Vumba

That was the birth of Changamiri Coffee Company. Inspired by and working Zimbabwe’s small scale coffee farmers in a business model that ensures they capture the highest possible value from the coffee value chain. At Changamiri Coffee Company, we want every coffee lover to have an opportunity to enjoy the unique coffee flavours from the small scale coffee farmers in Zimbabwe’s eastern highlands while at the same time economically transforming those communities where the coffee comes from.

Why Changamiri?

The origins of the word are found in the 16th century when Chief Changa ruled the Munhumutapa Empire covering present day Zimbabwe and most of Southern Africa. Chief Changa was a prolific commodity trader highly respected by his Arab trade partners they gave him the title of an Emir meaning ruler. Chief Changa thus became Changa Emir of the Munhumutapa Empire to the Arabs. Changa Emir became the symbol of African majesty that his successors began to be referred to as “Changamiri”. The word Changamiri is now accepted in the Zimbabwean Shona language to mean a king or a ruler. A Changamiri is the pinnacle of Zimbabwean Shona royalty describing an ensconced yet present kingship steeped in wisdom.

Ready Changamiri Coffee Company Founder’s OneSheet here