Kickstarting Khayelitsha’s coffee culture from the ground up

 
 
 

The rumble of a coffee grinder and its aroma filtered through the street. Sikelela Dibela stood in his mother’s garage in Khayelitsha, ready to pour a flat white for customers. At first, the only transactions taking place were passersby exchanging waves. But Dibela continued to roast the beans, all while dreaming of a café revolution in the township. “We didn’t have many coffee shops,” he says. “So I wanted to bring the coffee culture in my community.”

Dibela started from humble beginnings. He dropped out of school in Grade 9 and found a job as a dishwasher in a café. “After a couple of months, I got the opportunity of making coffee,” Dibela says. He soon climbed from kitchen worker to barista to store manager. Inspired by his expertise and people skills, Dibela’s employers sent him to train upcoming staff at franchises in London. As his brewing skills advanced overseas, so did Khayelitsha’s infrastructure and creative scene back home. It inspired Dibela’s entrepreneurial efforts upon his return. 

In 2016, Dibela opened Siki’s Koffee Kafe from his home. Despite the slow start, it’s since become a local favourite. Here, every sip is accompanied by the taste of social consciousness. Dibela uses a custom blend of beans sourced from Burundi, Ethiopia and Kenya and roasted by Mzukisi Xhati. It’s part of his vision to support companies that started with nothing – just like him. Creatives, entrepreneurs, and students work towards their hopes in the very same space where Dibela planted his own. “If I can kickstart my dreams like this, anyone can,” he says.