'The best love on the first sip'
Pop in to Micoffee any morning of the week and you are in for a real treat. From judges to radio presenters, sales reps to businessmen, and housewives to software engineers, people from all walks of Port Elizabeth life are having their morning ‘cuppa’ at 152 Main Road, Walmer.
The atmosphere is enough to make one really excited and, well, joyful. The morning “coffee club” members have their own personalised mugs, with the exception of respected Judge Dayalin Chetty’s espresso cup and saucer.
Mum Teniele Sabbadin-Jonck drops by after completing the school run with her famous shortbread before heading to work. And businessman Garth Austin orders his coffee and breakfast after a training session in the gym across the parking lot.
Every person you meet at the shop has something wonderful to say about the founder and owner of the popular Micoffee brand, Mike Chizeya, as well as the quality of his secret blend of coffee.
Mike oozes humility. He is gentle, friendly and generous. But most of all, he is forward-thinking. The 39-year-old opened his first pilot kiosk in Walmer in 2015, but has gone on to establish another permanent shop in Newton Park, which his wife Florence runs.
Micoffee also operates from a trailer in Summerstrand and the company’s mobile coffee bar can be seen at functions and events all over Port Elizabeth and as far out of town as Cradock, for the Great Fish River Canoe Marathon.
Mike says he values each and every patron and makes a point of giving back to the community. Part of the Micoffee vision is to upskill young people, through programmes such as Selati Sugar’s Barista Scholarship initiative in partnership with The Coffee Magazine and community-based cafés across the country. Micoffee is one such café, and Mike says he hopes to train between four and six baristas a year.
He also delivers coffee to one of his loyal customers who has had a knee replacement and can’t make it to the shop as usual. He takes coffee to the elderly residents at Nazareth House.
According to loyal Micoffee supporter, Roland Gaspar, Mike sponsored coffee for a group of Mandela Day volunteers who helped revamp the children’s orthopaedic ward at Livingstone Hospital, when Roland himself was involved in the project.
Roland, who has recently taken over as Algoa FM's “The Drive” host, says Mike is a philanthropist but he is too humble to say so himself.
And that is the best part of Mike’s story; his unexpected love affair with coffee and the way it changed his life. Soon after moving to South Africa in 2005 from Mazowe village, Zimbabwe, Mike found a job at Woolworths. He worked at many of the different PE branches over the years, he says.
He explains that he learnt all about coffee one day when the store he was working in was short-staffed.
“I thought, let me just try it. After drinking, smelling and making one cup, I made a decision that coffee would be my life. It was the best love on the first sip,” Mike says with a smile.
The father of three admits that his accounting qualification comes in quite handy in the running of his business, but he is very happy with the way things turned out.
“Obviously, I can’t imagine spending a day without making or smelling a cup of coffee. Coffee is part of me and coffee is what defines me as a person,” he says.
As for Port Elizabeth? Mike says he would not want to live anywhere else.