Coffee... creamy, dark or blind?
Please let me introduce you to Joseph Matheatau, the first trained blind barista in South Africa. Joseph has defeated endless challenges in the process of achieving this goal. He started losing his sight at the age of three due to a glaucoma, he wondered what was happening and eventually became completely blind. But despite losing his vision, he now makes the best cappuccinos in Worcester, the Care Capital of South Africa!
Joseph says he could never understand why his mom always asked him, as a blind person, to make tea for her when he visited. Till one day when she said to him: “You might not be able to see, but you can still make it in life and making the best cup of tea is a good start!” He says that when he made her tea she was happy … and that made him happy.
At school the teachers could not understand why Joseph loved playing but struggled with schoolwork. They concluded that he must be lazy. During winter months, Joseph stayed at home as he was unable to find his way. His hometown, Balaclava in Thaba ‘Nchu, did not have facilities to accommodate visually impaired persons, but still Joseph went back to school every year. He was determined to make something of his life and knew the only way to do so was to get a good education.
From a young age Joseph watched his grandfather’s careful ritual of brewing tea on the fire, as there was no electricity. Joseph’s mother still believes that he makes the best tea, and we will not argue.
A few years ago Joseph arrived in Worcester and joined Innovation for the Blind. This meant a new town, different streets and completely new surroundings: a daunting challenge, but as you can read Joseph is always up for a challenge.
Innovation for the Blind’s mission is to empower persons who are blind, partially sighted or deafblind, including persons with visual impairments with additional disabilities by means of education, training, development, employment and care towards a fulfilled life and complete citizenship. It is our firm belief that every citizen, regardless of ability or disability has the right to a meaning full life, to become as independent as possible.
A project was launched in collaboration with Truth Coffee Roasters and Joseph was identified to be trained as Barista. After many challenges, burnt fingers and blisters, Joseph became a master of the craft and today makes all drinks on the menu: espressos, cappuccinos, latte’s… you name it!
Today, Joseph operates and lives independently in his “new” hometown with his white cane. Joseph’s friendly face is well-known in the local media and even on television. His humbleness and positive outlook are inspiring, and he dreams of helping other persons with visual impairments to persist with courage.
Coffee snob or not, stop by for a cuppa made by Joseph - Blindiana Barista Coffee Shop is a well-known landmark in Church Street, Worcester, and it’s here where you will find Joseph behind his espresso machine making the perfect cappuccino! Come visit us, sit back, relax and enjoy a cup of coffee and slice of cake.
Blindiana Barista, 134 Church Street, Worcester, is open weekdays from 08h00 – 17h00.
Did you know that we have our own custom coffee blend: Blindiana Blend?
Partnering with Beans for Africa Coffee Roasters we established our very own coffee brand – packed, labelled and distributed by visually impaired and multi disabled employees, thereby creating gainful employment in a sheltered environment.
How can you help Joseph and others alike?
Like Joseph there are currently 53 other visually impaired and multi disabled employees in our vocational and skills development program for 2019. By donating only R350 you can help an employee gain their dignity again, give them purpose and a safe work environment. Your donation will provide opportunities to these individuals that can’t be accommodated in the open labour market.