Julius Wetala, the brain behind Kisoro Coffee Escapade, is 41 years old and originally from Eastern Uganda. He suffered from a long time illness at the age of 11, and was unable to take his Primary Leaving exams. He had to reapply, and that is when he changed his name to “Wetala”, a “survivor”. That name goes back to his dad, actually, who was one of only three children who survived in a family of 10, the rest succumbing to sicknesses, so he became “Wetala”..
They were coffee farmers for generations. Julius, however, didn’t get seriously into it before 2003 when he was employed by a tea factory. He was introduced to tea tasting and that led to coffee tasting and three months in a coffee lab.
His formal education was otherwise accounting. He got employed by the Israelis building the motorway from Kampala to the borders of Rwanda and Congo. He lasted three years before getting fed up with his bosses “uncoordinated working methods” and lack of interest in Wetala’s ideas how to improve them.
He then became an USAID business manager in Kisoro. The project was meant to help farmers introduce improved coffee, organic farming and good handling of produce. During his walks around the area, touched by the beauty and encouraged by the closeness of two national parks, he came up with a proposal to link coffee with tourism. His proposal was rejected and thus he decided to go alone.
Coffee Tours was born. In March 2012 Wetala got his first client, a traveller and photographer Piercarlo Smith. Piercarlo was impressed by what he saw and began supporting Julius’s work. The rest is, as they say, history.
text: Miha Logar