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From Vietnam to Uganda and back

Training programme creates overseas exchange

Loc with colleagues from Volcafe in Uganda.

Loc (at right) with colleagues from Volcafe in Uganda.

Initiative provides chance to see another country's coffee culture up close

Coffee is grown in a wide belt straddling the Equator and enjoyed as a drink in even more places. With so many unique origins and potential markets, how do people interested in trading the beloved bean learn their craft? One important way to learn about coffee is to see its production – at farms and mills, in quality labs and warehouses – up close.

Volcafe Vietnam works in one of the world’s biggest coffee origins – second only to Brazil in global production – and our team there has launched an overseas training programme to help nurture the next generation of coffee leaders in the country.

The training programme aims to help participants learn, replenish knowledge, and acquire new skills and experience – all while seeing a different country’s coffee sector up close during an extended stay. The programme offers a chance for individuals to broaden their perspective, compare techniques for improving productivity and engagement with partners, and gain confidence by learning from peers in Volcafe’s global network.

Nguyen Phuoc Loc recently spent two months in Uganda, visiting Volcafe Vietnam’s sister company Kyagalanyi Coffee Limited (Volcafe in Uganda). During his time in Uganda, Loc had the opportunity to work alongside Kyagalanyi’s trading team, study coffee procurement at the farm level, and witness wet and dry coffee processing first-hand. He also learned more about coffee production aligned to the Nespresso AAA standard and had the chance to cup many types of Ugandan coffee. 

‘Coming away from the trip with a deeper understanding of Ugandan Robusta and a stronger connection with Kyagalanyi colleagues facilitates a better trading view and decision making,’ notes Loc.

He also appreciated the chance to compare risk management and trading strategies, and realised that ‘having a bigger sustainability team for Volcafe Vietnam to enable more projects with roasters is also a nice idea.’

Loc visits Kisinga coffee station, Uganda

Loc (crouching in white shirt at centre) visits one of Volcafe’s buying stations in Uganda.

Loc visits a coffee factory in Uganda

Loc visits a coffee mill. All aspects of coffee production are included in the programme.

Loc attends a training for coffee farmers, Uganda

The programme emphasises practical experience. Here, Loc joins a training for coffee farmers.

Loc originally joined Volcafe Vietnam in 2016 as a Coffee Purchaser, becoming a Junior Coffee Trader in 2020 and a Coffee Trader in 2022. After his B.A. in Commerce at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University in Vietnam, he had started his career as a management trainee and moved through several departments to become a coffee purchaser.

‘My plan is to keep growing with Volcafe for the long-term future,’ says Loc. ‘This is the second company I have worked for and I hope it will be the last.’

Building on his time in Uganda, Loc aspires to gain more international experience in the future, including in the United States.

Juan Jose Selves, General Manager of Volcafe Vietnam, is encouraged by the experience: ‘The training programme has been a success. Loc came back energised and inspired, and it has also inspired other colleagues.’

‘Hosting Loc was a wonderful opportunity for us to exchange ideas, discuss best practices and share successes for the benefit of both organisations. We learned from each other and gained valuable insights,’ says Jeremy Mpalampa, General Manager of Kyagalanyi.

After this initial success, Volcafe Vietnam is looking to send more colleagues on overseas exchange in the coming year.

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