Dale Nafziger is a man with a simple idea; to place Nepal on the world map for quality coffee. With a PhD from Cornell and tonnes of brilliant ideas in his head, Dale came to Nepal in 1979. At that time, he was involved in the hydropower sector in Nepal—yet another business with huge potential. However, with times changing, in 2003, Dale opted to dive into another one of Nepal’s highly promising, yet somehow undiscovered markets—the coffee business. Having over two decades of local experience, coupled with his fluency in Nepali, Dale brings both awareness and know-how into the trade.
“Nepal is ideal for crop growing. I’m not only talking about coffee here, I’m talking about crops in general. Nepal has a great environment for agriculture; you can grow just about anything from potatoes to rice to tea, or even coffee,” says Dale “a few years ago I encountered these farmers growing suntala (orange) in their fields. What caught my attention was the fact that they were also growing coffee in that same land. It was efficient, productive and economic. So, I thought; why not?”
Top of the World Coffee had only started production and sales in November although it was officially registered in September 2007. Dale is the CEO and runs the business with his wife. The business employs all Nepali workers who learn on the job. “You can’t go to a school to learn how to make coffee,” says Dale- jokingly “That’s why we need to teach the workers on the job. They are slowly molded into expert coffee makers, if you would like”.
Wake up and smell the coffee is what I say. “Delivering fresh roasted coffee, produced right here in Nepal, to our customer’s doorstep every morning is the main highlight of our business. With Top of the World everyone in Kathmandu can enjoy world-class coffee at the comfort of their homes,” says Dale. You can order online from the company’s website, www.topoftheworldcoffee.com. You do not need a credit card to make transactions; you simply pay when the coffee arrives. “We deliver anywhere we can. Because we only have one office, you can understand we would have difficulties delivering. However, we deliver anywhere within the Ring Road free of transport cost. What you pay is what the coffee actually costs, nothing extra” says Dale. “We do charge a little extra for deliveries outside of the Ring Road because of transportation difficulties. But I guess those who order coffee from us will appreciate the efforts we make to deliver fresh, world-class coffee right at their doorsteps and will not worry about the premium,” says Dale. “We roast the coffee beans during the afternoon and then deliver the next morning from 7 to 9 AM. We do this because coffee has some special qualities; it is usually best within 12 hours of roasting. It also gives off a distinct, rich aroma when fresh. Our commitment to quality is also the reason why you cannot find out products in supermarkets or grocery stores.”
The different varieties of coffee that Top of the World produces are Kenyan AA, Ethiopian Sidamo, Sumatran Mandheling, Columbian Excelso, Columbian Decaf, Chocolate Flavoured Arabica, Hazel Nut Flavoured Arabica, French Vanilla Flavoured Arabica, Flavoured Decaffeinated Coffee, and Highland Organic-grown Nepali Coffee. The Kenyan AA, the Ethiopian Sidamo and the Sumatran Mandheling are world standard coffee. These are the types of coffee that will be valued and loved by any coffee aficionado in any part of the world. You can just smell the difference—a rich aroma was filling the room even when Dale held out a handful of the Kenyan AA coffee beans for me to smell. “It’s like figuring out the difference between good dal-bhat and an okay dal-bhat you can immediately know. It’s the same with coffee. With good coffee, you can just smell and taste the difference,” explains Dale.
Top of the World Coffee does not aim to compete with the current suppliers of Nepali coffee, but rather to try to focus on a niche market- people who would appreciate truly world-class coffee early in the morning, freshly roasted and delivered to their doorstep. According to Dale, their aim is to provide truly exclusive blends based upon Nepali coffee- found literally nowhere else in the world. Dale’s another main motive is to introduce Nepal-based coffee lovers to the kaleidoscopic world of international specialty coffees. With water problems, load-shedding and gas shortages plaguing the valley from time to time, Dale finds it increasingly difficult to carry out the business smoothly.
With the market being limited, it is difficult for Dale to reach out effectively. Also, since the coffee provided by Top of the World Coffee appears to be expensive compared to regular ones already available in the market, he says it is tough to cut through the competition. He wishes that the readers of this magazine (meaning you) will be those who will appreciate fresh, roasted and unique coffee among other premium goods. So, happy drinking!
Photo: Pramod Neupane-WWF Nepal From red pandas swaying on branches in the eastern Himalayas...