Executive Insights

Two Joburg youngsters just created their own instant coffee brand –  here's how they did it

Business Insider SA
Karabego instant dried coffee
Karabego instant dried coffee
  • Karabego is a new free-dried instant coffee launched by two young South Africans.
  • The brand is a combination of the founders’ names, Katlego and Karabo.
  • The duo hope to have their product on grocery store shelves soon.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusnessInsider.co.za

Childhood best friends, Karabo Troy Makakaba and Katlego Mathibela have launched a new range of freeze-dried instant coffee made from green coffee beans shipped from Ethiopia and Brazil.

The duo launched Karabego – a combination of their names – in June, and hope to see their product in popular grocery stores soon.

Makakaba, 27, says he has been interested in the coffee industry since his days at university.

“I love coffee so much. This thing of buying other people’s coffee didn’t appeal to me so I figured, let me just create my own,” he said.

Makakaba shared the idea with his partner, Mathibela, about a year ago, and she provided the push needed to create an actual product.

"We noticed that filter-ground [coffee] is high maintenance and requires machines. Our market is the black community and not everyone has a coffee machine," Makakaba said.  

Mathibela approached various companies in the coffee market and finally found one in Centurion that helped them source the green coffee beans from Ethiopia and Brazil they needed to start their business.  

The process of making instant coffee out of ground coffee beans requires either dehydrating or freeze-drying.

Turning freeze-dried coffee into instant is a bit more complicated than the alternative.

First the coffee concentrate has to be chilled to about -7 Celsius, making a slush

That slush is separated, and slowly cooled further to ensure large granules. The resulting "coffee popsicle" is ground down for drying, before being placed in a vacuum chamber where the remaining ice is vaporised, leaving behind tiny coffee particles ready for consumption. 


Karabego products
Karabego products

Raising the capital to set up the machinery to do any of that seemed all but impossible.

“We started breaking it down into something doable for us and then started looking into ways of raising capital instead of stressing ourselves over big figures, and then lockdown happened,” said Mathibela.

In order to raise funds, the pair made stuffed bags, masks, and art.

Bags made to raise funds
Bags made to raise funds

Stuffed bags made to raise funds
Stuffed bags made to raise funds

Makakaba and Mathibela rely heavily on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for their marketing.

The duo said the response they have received since launching their coffee via social media far exceeded their expectations. They made their first deliveries in June, and word started to spread.

Instead of seeing them through until December, their first order of beans ran out so fast they are already on their third.

That is despite the fact that they still don't have a website, and sell over the phone, then personally make deliveries from their base in Johannesburg to buyers as far afield as Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal. 

Contact details for orders
Contact details for orders

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