“Come sample the world’s best coffee at the Coffee Expo Seoul 2021!” This was an enticing expression for Korea’s coffee lovers, especially those in Seoul, to relish the aroma and taste of the genuine Kenyan coffee—directly.
On July 14 this year, the Embassy of Kenya in Seoul hosted Coffee Expo at Coex Hall B in downtown Seoul south of the Han River. The four-day event that ran on July 14 to 17 was an opportunity for the Koreans to come, experience, sample, learn and meet some of the top coffee producers from Kenya.
In connection with the large-scale coffee promotion event, The Korea Post media interviewed Cabinet Secretary Betty C. Maina of the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade & Enterprise Development on July 13, 2021, who visited Seoul for the important Kenyan coffee event.
She said, “We hope to export more high-quality Kenyan coffee to Korea”
She said: “I would like to promote the export of Kenyan coffee by introducing the good taste and high quality of Kenyan coffee to Korea,” Then she said, “During the coffee expo, there will be a B2B meeting between Kenyan coffee farmers and Korean coffee importers and a Cupping Session to experience the taste of Kenyan coffee.”
Then she said: “After this event, Kenyan officials will look around Korea's major industrial complexes and try to benchmark Korea's economic growth and introduce it to Kenya.”
The visit to the industrial complex is expected to lead to greater economic exchanges between Kenya and Korea later.
Minister Maina also introduced Madam Hong Seung-hee, owner of Kiambu Café in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, who is a Kenya embassy building renter. Madam Hong opened the cafe, which was proposed by the first Kenyan ambassador to Korea based on her relationship with Kenya so that Kiambu Cafe is a place with a deep relationship with Kenya.
Kenya is situated in East Africa with a coastline on the Indian Ocean. It encompasses savannah, Lakelands, the dramatic Great Rift Valley and mountain highlands. It's also home to the Big Five wild animals.
South Korea is ranked 39th amongst Kenya’s export destination markets, absorbing US$22 million worth of goods which accounted for 0.4% share of Kenya’s total exports in 2020. The country is one of the biggest coffee producers with at least US$19.6 million exported to South Korea in 2020.
Kenya has been selected as the “Guest Country” in this year’s Expo and was therefore be the country of focus.
Some of the top producers of Coffee that represented Kenya at the Expo included Gatundu South Coffee Farmers, Meru Coffee Millers Cooperative Union, Kipkelion District Cooperative Union, Embu District Cooperative Union Mill, Mt Elgon Farmers’ Cooperative Union, Bungoma County Cooperative Union, Machakos District Cooperative Union, Othaya Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Society, Tharaka Nithi County Coffee Mill Cooperative Union, as well as Kenya Coffee Cooperative Exporters Ltd.
Speaking during the launch of the Kenya’s participation at the Coffee Expo Seoul 2021, Cabinet Secretary Hon. Betty Maina said: “We are happy to be the country of focus in this year’s Coffee Expo. This is not only a platform for Kenya’s Coffee Exporters to meet, network and do business with their counterparts in Korea, but it will also give us an opportunity as a country to position Kenya’s Coffee as unique and high quality.”
Good bilateral relations:
The Republic of Korea is one of the leading coffee markets in the world with imports reaching a high of 146,000 tons. Coffee is Kenya’s main export to South Korea and Korea ranks 4th in terms of consumption of Kenya Coffee. Kenyan coffee attracts low tariffs of 8% as compared to tea which attracts 40% tariff. Korea consumes more Kenyan coffee than countries like Germany and the United States. This indicates that more marketing should be directed towards our South Korean Markets so as to keep the coffee export to Korea steady. It is also an indicator of how coffee exports to Korean market can help reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries.
Why you should choose Kenya Coffee:
Kenyan Coffee has a great deal of factors that work in its favor. At the heart of the Equator in Kenya lies the cool and wet volcanic rich and sun kissed highlands that act as Coffee growing fields. Kenyan coffee is famous for its clear fruity floral flavor that emanates from its sharp pointed acidity and its heavy body.
The weather alone is not the only determining factor when it comes to the greatness of Kenyan Coffee. How we cultivate it plays a big part as well. The happiness and love of a thousand smiles from a thousand men and women who gently sing as their hands and tools interact with the coffee plants and berries with one aim; to pick, assess, select and give you the best of what we have as per our Kenyan tradition. There is no doubt that for every sip of a crisp, aromatic and delightful cup of Kenyan Coffee, you will experience its signature aroma, acidity and its black currant berry undertone emanating from the soul of our fertile volcanic highlands whenever or wherever it is taken from across the world.
Kenyan coffee is wet processed. This means that the green unroasted bean is removed from its outer shell when the fruit is moist or just after harvesting has taken place. Wet processed coffee is clean and finer in taste. Wet processing also maintains the high-level acidity that the Kenya coffee is famous for.
Here is why Kenya coffee varieties stand out:
Guaranteed high quality: Kenya Coffee rates over 80% in the Coffee Quality Referencing (CQR) Class 3-5 -British system Coffee classification.
Unique processing of Kenyan Coffee – handpicked, wet processed, sundried, which preserves quality and taste.
High demand in the market because Coffee is not just a beverage it’s a lifestyle.
High human capital and innovation capacity - The World Economic Forum’s country competitiveness report ranks Kenya 1st in Africa in quality of human capital, availability of research, innovation, and business dynamism, making it the place to be as an investor.
Continuous research and innovation have developed two improved varieties: Ruiru 11 and Batian.
New coffee sub-sector reforms
Transparent coffee auction system
Coffee Expo Seoul will bring together the entire coffee and coffee related industries under one roof in South Korea’s booming coffee business. The Expo will provide an ideal platform where both local and international buyers and exhibitors can interact with new products and trends in the coffee industry prior to the onset of the summer coffee season. A similar last Coffee Expo event in 2019 attracted a total of 224 exhibitors and 47,909 visitors.
About Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency:
The Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA) is a State Corporation established under the State Corporations Act Cap 446 through Legal Notice No.110 of August 9th, 2019 after the merger of the Export Promotion Council and Brand Kenya Board. KEPROBA’s mandate is to implement export promotion and nation branding Initiatives and policies to promote Kenya’s export of goods and services.
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About Cabinet Secretary Betty C. Maina, the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development:
The Cabinet Secretary, Hon. Betty C. Maina, EGH brings a wealth of experience and professional capability built over two decades of engagement with top-notch public and private sector organizations.
She has more than 27 years’ experience in organizational leadership and development, with an ability to prepare and implement strategic business plans and mobilize resources for implementation, traits that place her at a strategic position to effectively lead the coordination of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development in Kenya.
Hon. Maina has served as the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, State Department for industrialization, and State Department of East African Affairs. She has also served as the Chief Executive of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers for 11 years (between June 2004–July 2015), where she not only oversaw the doubling of membership of the association but also established seven satellite offices to complement the services offered at the national office Ms. Maina was behind the successful implementation of the association’s strategic plan, resource mobilization, and fundraising and oversaw its revenue increase from Kshs 24 million to Kshs 400 million annually within her ten-year stewardship.
Hon. Maina also has a keen interest and experience in Trade Policy, Regional Integration, Private Sector Development, Industrial Development, Public-Private Dialogue, Business and Society, Sustainable Development, Integrated development, Education, Corporate Sustainability, Government Relations, and Advocacy.
She attained a Master of Science Degree in Development Administration and Planning from the University College of London in 1998, having studied Land Economics at the University of Nairobi where she attained her undergraduate degree in 1988.
She has also undertaken short courses in several key areas, among them Budgeting and Financial Management (Harvard University), Developing Anti-Corruption Strategies (World Bank, Washington), Gender and Development Planning (University College of London), and the Role of Public Policy in Private Sector Development (Strathmore University College), to name just a few.
Regional integration, industrial development, private sector development, good governance, and sustainable development are at the heart of Ms. Maina’s strategic approach to business, and her new role of coordinating EAC affairs in Kenya may not present a big challenge, going by her experience and training.
Her achievements have earned her the Kenyan presidential honor in 2013, giving her the title: Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear (MBS).
Ms. Maina’s active professional journey started in 1997 when she became Chief Executive of the Institute of Economic Affairs in Kenya (IEA), an independent policy think-tank and advocacy, promoting public awareness on policy issues and advocating for the institution of socially responsive economic reforms, a position she held until 2003.
Between 1996 and 1997, she was a consultant, Local Government Reform Program in Kenya, and formed part of a team investigating and suggesting alternative resource base enhancement for local authorities in Kenya, and which carried out revenue potential studies for Kisumu, Nakuru, Naivasha, and Kakamega municipalities.
She was also the team leader in programme initiation for the Migori Integrated Urban Development Programme between 1994 and 1996 and led a team that used participatory approaches to initiate an integrated urban development programme in the town. During the same period, Ms. Maina was also Gender Advisor, Arid and Semi-Arid Programmes in (then) Keiyo and Marakwet districts (now Elgeyo Marakwet County).
She was Research Assistant, United Nations Center for Human Settlements (UN/Habitat) between 1991 and 1993, having served as Assistant Project Officer, Shelter Afrique (1990-91) where she initiated the company newsletter, ShelterNews.
Prior to joining the State Department, Ms. Maina was the Director of her consultancy firm: BECEM Solutions, and East Africa Regional Representative of Genetics: Analytics, an economic consulting group with offices in Nairobi, New Delhi, and Johannesburg.
Profile of Mme. Hong Seung-hee:
When PARADISE GROUP established Safari Park Hotel & Casino in Nairobi, Kenya in 1974, Madame Hong was invited to Nairobi by her dear friend, Mr. Nak-won Jeon who was President of the group at the time. Madame Hong stayed in Narobi for a year and even get to participate in a designing project for Safari Park Hotel & Casino. Her special relationship with Kenya was began with the experience.
The Embassy of Republic of Kenya in Seoul, South Korea was opened on 31st July, 2007 and Madame Hong was the landowner of the Embassy. She was very glad that she was able to offer the building for Kenya Embassy as she still remembers the wonderful experience she had in Kenya.
The previous Ambassador of Kenya Embassy, H.E Ngovi Kitau suggested to start a Kenya cafe in the next building to the Embassy which also belongs to Madame Hong. They both agreed that it is a brilliant idea. Soon, her son started his own business and named Kenya Kiambu Cafe. The cafe’s name that Ambassador Ngovi came up with, it was originated from Kiambu County in Kenya which is famous for its coffee farm. Ambassador Ngovi assisted Madame Hong and her son to decorate the cafe that provides real Kenyan mood, and even gave authentic Kenyan goods as presents. Few years later, Kenya Kiambu Cafe has become one of the signature spots in Itaewon area.