NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo has launched his own line of coffee, and he is partnering with a St. Louis roaster on the rollout of Mutombo Coffee.
Mutombo will visit Northwest Coffee Roasting Co. at 4251 Laclede Avenue in the Central West End from 10:30 a.m.-noon Monday (July 12). The basketball hall of famer will join Northwest owner Jason Wilson for a public conversation about the coffee industry in Mutombo’s native Democratic Republic of Congo and in Africa in general. Mutombo will greet and sign autographs for fans.
Northwest is roasting coffee for Mutombo Coffee and will feature Mutombo's house blend on its menu. Wilson tells Off the Menu he connected with Mutombo through mutual acquaintances and appreciated Mutombo Coffee’s focus on fair-trade wages and sustainable farming.
“So I was like, ‘That's right up my alley,’” Wilson says. That Mutombo has "integrity," he continues, "makes it even easier for me because that's a part of my business strategy.”
Issues specific to the coffee industry in Africa that Mutombo and Wilson will discuss include the infrastructure necessary to transport coffee out of farms and equal pay for women.
“Most of the folks who are sorting the coffee are women, so we want to make sure they get equal pay,” Wilson says.
Mutombo will also talk more broadly about the injustices that the Democratic Republic of Congo and other coffee-producing countries in Africa suffer due to global economics.
Wilson describes his and Mutombo’s efforts as an attempt to “control the narrative” (or, in social-media terms, #ControlTheNarrative) around coffee. Wilson also sees parallels between the problems Mutombo has identified in the coffee industry in Africa and the issues holding back growth in St. Louis.
Among them, he says, are the “lack of infrastructure, lack of investment, equal pay for folks who live in some of these communities and really just trying to spur economic development in North St. Louis — North St. Louis City, in particular.”