David Wilding-Davies, a former Olympic equestrian had a dream to own a farm in Africa. In 1998, David moved to Zimbabwe determined to find the farming operation he sought.
In 2000, he found and bought a farm in Zimbabwe that now produces Ashanti coffee beans. Ashanti Coffee received the Coffee Grower of the Year award in 2003 but David would not savour that initial success for long. In 2005 civil unrest in Zimbabwe saw him expelled from his land, and lose over 50% of that land illegally.
That setback led him to move his business Ashanti Coffee to Canada to a shop in Thornbury. David bought a 12 kilogram coffee roaster and started his new venture, Ashanti Coffee Enterprises using the tagline, “From Farm to Cup”. David said “We are fortunate that Ashanti is such a great tasting coffee. We knew we could roast it and sell it as a finished product”.
In 2007 the next step was to open a café in the front of the building where the coffee was roasted. Customers would come in to see the roasting process and purchase pounds of coffee or just enjoy a cup.
Two farmer friends in Zimbabwe continue to farm Ashanti beans on David’s land and some on theirs to provide enough Ashanti beans to satisfy the company’s needs. Beans are picked from April to October but the bulk of the harvesting (60%) is done in August and September. In November the coffee is milled, graded and prepared for shipping.
Shipments arrive in February and March. The green coffee is very hardy and keeps well. David now roasts finished product as needed. He now has a 30 kg roaster and roasts 90 kgs. an hour, usually 3 times a week.
Ashanti Coffee Enterprises has grown to a second café in Collingwood at 510 First St. and a third in the summit chalet at the Alpine Ski Club in The Blue Mountains, Ontario.
David’s future expansion plans for Ashanti Coffee centre on a franchise model he is currently developing. For now he is content to continue to farm the beans in Zimbabwe and sell the coffee he traveled so far to bring home to Canada.