Photo Credit: Courtesy of Khadim's Coffee
Meet Khadim: The Man Behind Cape Town's Only Senegalese Coffee Shop
Mbacke Diagne, better known as Khadim, is the epitome of going after something you want— no matter what obstacles may come your way. At a young age, he was sent to live with his grandparents to work on their farm. Despite never receiving a formal education, he always dreamed of one day owning a business.
His love for coffee developed as early as 12, despite being told by his elders that the drink wasn’t for children, and often getting into trouble for sneaking it out of the house.
At the age of 18, his grandparents sent him back to Dakar, Senegal to live with his mom. She immediately told him that he would need to find a job.
“My mom made me find a trade to earn money,” Khadim told Travel Noire. “I decided to learn carpentry, but I knew deep down I wanted to own my own business.”
After several months of working as a carpenter, Khadim made the brave decision to leave his homeland to seek the life he dreamed of. However, things didn’t come so easy.
Without telling anyone, including his mom, he packed his bags and headed to Mali.
“I didn’t tell my mom because I didn’t want to upset her. I first applied to England for a visitor’s visa, but it was denied. I decided instead to go to Mali. After a few days in Mali, I called her to tell her about my decision to leave Senegal.”
Khadim would spend the next year bouncing from Mali, Benin, The Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He looked for carpentry work in each place but was never successful. A friend eventually suggested that he look into moving to South Africa. Despite some initial hesitation, Khadim applied for his visa and it was granted.
With only $50 to his name, he made the journey to Johannesburg. Days later and with only $21 left, headed to Cape Town.
“A nice man offered me a carpenter job,” he said. “But, after a few months, I decided to start my coffee business.”
Khadim had his family ship Senegalese coffee to him in Cape Town. He would prepare the coffee at home, store it in his backpack, and take it to the streets to sell it. He was able to build a loyal customer base because Senegalese coffee wasn’t something you could find in the city. The coffee also has a lot of health benefits that don’t come with traditional coffee.
Café Touba, or Senegalese coffee, is named for the city of Touba and it’s flavored with grains of Selim, or Guinea pepper, and sometimes cloves.
Once he saved up enough money, he was able to open up his first shop, Khadim’s Coffee. It took a while for him to find and settle into the perfect location in the heart of Cape Town, but he did it. In addition to the coffee, Khadim also served traditional Senegalese cuisine.
Sadly, once the pandemic hit, he was forced to shut it down.
“My landlord wanted me to continue making payments, but I did not have the money. I had to close down. But, I decided to go back to preparing the coffee at home and selling it out on the streets to my customers.”
Khadim has now come to the end of his supply of coffee from Senegal. Since the shop has closed, he has not been able to generate income to send for more. A good friend back in the States, Khaleel Loyd, decided to start a fundraising campaign to help Khadim get back on his feet and eventually re-open.