Meet Innocent Chakanyuka, who is vying for the Zimbabwean Personality of the Year Award at the Zimbabwe Excellence Awards 2017. He first ventured to South Africa in 2010 as a graduate from the University of Zimbabwe to find a job as an engineer. Now he works at the most prestigious coffee shop in the world: Truth Coffee Works.
“You need to have a passion for coffee and people,” says Innocent.
As Head Barista of Truth Coffee his face has become synonymous with the Truth brand. He has been featured many times on travel and tourism documentaries that showcase the city of Cape Town; including the Morning Expresso Show, on Visit South Africa’s Cape Town video, the Hectic 9 and even on a CNN travel show of top places to visit in Cape Town, which was broadcast worldwide.
Innocent also works at pop-up coffee shops and events as a Truth barista. His coffee-making skills and his friendly charisma are what makes him the face of Truth. Innocent is always ready to welcome you with a smile and a cappuccino the minute you walk into the coffee shop.
When he originally came to South Africa in search of work as an engineer there were a few obstacles in his path. The registration was a tedious process and he needed to find work. His brother, Collin, happened to be working in the industry at the time and Innocent decided to enrol in a coffee training course. The rest is history.
“I fell in love with Truth’s culture and the principals of making coffee, which I learnt while studying,”
He started working at Truth Coffee where he was taken under the wing of coffee guru David Donde, who founded Truth.”
Innocent has been with Truth from the very beginning and has played an instrumental role in its growth. He has acted as an excellent brand ambassador and even created his own coffee beverages, such as the Sunrise Espresso, that is featured on the menu.
Through hard work and innovation, he has moved on to win several awards in the industry, including the Western Cape Barista Championship in 2014 hosted by ABSA Vuka. Since then he has been featured on magazine covers (Coffee Magazine Spring Edition), in newspaper articles (Cape Argus) and blogs – so much so that when international tourists visit they greet him like an old friend.
When Innocent is not standing behind a steampunk coffee machine, he is helping other aspiring baristas secure jobs in the industry. He has also trained many young baristas and helped establish local businesses and coffee shops. His goes beyond what is required to help people in his local community.
As a man of strong faith in Christ and a follower of God, it is important for him to keep learning and bettering himself, and to help others around him.
“There’s constant change and growth,” he says. “It’s a job where you don’t really feel the pressure of it being “work”. It’s more fun, more interactive and you get to spend time with guests, sharing your passion and teaching others.”
He has acted as an excellent brand ambassador and even created his own coffee beverages, such as the Sunrise Espresso, that is featured on the menu.