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Coffee made by SA's first blind barista

“Visitors cannot believe that their coffee was made by a blind person,” says Joseph Matheatau.

14 Jun 2016

PRESS RELEASE -Joseph Matheatau has defeated endless challenges and faced adversity head on to become SA’s first blind barista, working at Kaleidoscope’s museum in the Blindiana Barista Coffee Shop, where he has become a major attraction.

Blindiana Blend, a Kaleidoscope & Beans for Africa initiative, is coffee that is blended, tasted, packed and distributed by the blind. Joseph trained at the centre, which continues to offer training to visually impaired baristas on an annual basis. Espressos, macchiatos, Americanos, and lattes - Joseph has mastered them all.

“Visitors cannot believe that their coffee was made by a blind person,” he says. “It was not an easy process though. In the very beginning I had a few incidents where I burned myself. It was a nightmare learning to froth the milk. But today I can successfully prepare a cup of coffee and I get the smell of success.”

Matheatau was not born blind, but lost his sight in his left eye at the age of three. Through the years his sight in his right eye also deteriorated to such an extent that he was unable to attend school.

“It is difficult if people and your family do not believe in you. My family believed I was too lazy to see and to go to school. The teachers at school made jokes about my eye condition.”

Joseph finally lost his vision in his late twenties and was then faced with a long period of suffering and enormous challenges. He joined Kaleidoscope training centre in Worcester in January 2014 to study Marketing and Entrepreneurship and then trained as a barista.

“It might sound strange, but in my heart I always knew I was going to be someone special one day,” he says. “When I used to tell my friends I was going to have my own shop and write out cheques someday, they laughed at me.”

Matheatau’s dream is to open his own coffee shop in Bloemfontein within the next 5 years. “I cannot wait to make that first cup of coffee for my mother and sister,” he adds.
At this stage he had successfully completed his mobility training, he is progressing well in Braille, used the services of the counsellor to make peace with all his losses, mastered the computer and  Joseph will be doing a Blind Taste promotion with Kaleidoscope to promote their coffee and sell their merchandise at the Red Café in Steenberg at the Steenberg Village Shopping Centre on the 15th June.

Hein Wagner, Kaleidoscope’s brand ambassador, motivational speaker and global adventurer, says that Joseph is a shining example who is living proof that with determination and the appropriate training, support and guidance, anything is possible.

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