Gold Crown Beverages Managing Director Fahim Ahmed.

In the world of Fahim Ahmed, there is no tea, but teas. And he talks with attitude – just like a tea bag thrown into hot water about the new teavolution that he has touched off. In October last year, Gold Crown Beverages, the company he owns, launched flavoured teas in what he says is aimed at attracting younger people into taking tea – and lots of it.

The range of 11 teas under the Kericho Gold brand has been named Attitude Teas, and comprise themed variants of teas spotting exciting colours, flavours and aroma, spiced with different herbs. The flavours, which have exotic sounding names, include: Hangover Tea, Chocolate Tea, Pineapple & Mango, Green Tea mint, Green Tea Lemmon, Green Tea Passion & Jasmine, Vanilla Tea, Rose Tea, Cardamom Tea, Passion & Lime Tea, and Love Tea.

“It was born out of a need to bring in young people. With these teas, we have not only created a product for the Millennials but also made it appealing to the young in appearance, attitude, taste profile and creativity, in order to encourage them to consume tea which is also known for its benefits,” he says.

With the youth making over 35% of Kenya’s population as well as being a sizable segment in every country, a tea brand that specifically targets millennials sounded like an exciting idea.

The journey for the 11 attitude products took 15 months, over 20 tasting sessions for every product, 500 packs of product trials and an investment of Ksh30 million. “You must have a session all over the country because the whole country is your market. Taste for tea in Mombasa may be different from Kisumu, because in Mombasa they like ginger, in Kisumu they don’t. In Kakamega it may be different… so every region has its own taste and you have to make sure it is something that is going to be received well. It requires intensive research,” says Ahmed.

Although Ahmed studied accounts, he found it easy working for the family business, and it seems to be working well. Gold Crown had just one brand but now it boasts of hundreds of brands born out of ideas that seemed plainly flawed at the beginning. The people Mr Ahmed first talked to thought he was crazy.

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Under his leadership, the Gold Crown Beverages has remained robust with average monthly turnover of Ksh35 million against average turnover of Ksh10 million in earlier years. The company still markets its own premium brands, Kericho Gold and Baraka Chai, for the ordinary clients.

“It’s a very long journey,” he says. “The products are flying off the shelves and orders are coming from each outlet and it is a great thing to see that everything that people thought was a crazy idea is now a success. Nobody wanted us, and some kept on asking how all these brands were going to survive.”

As the Director, he is giving coffee a run for its money. Coffee has given rise to very innovative products like cappuccinos and lattes. This is where Ahmed hoes to take tea by bringing hip products that resonate with younger people.

Gold Crown can pack Black Tea, Green Tea, Flavoured Tea and Fruit and Herbal Infusions in a wide range of formats to suit various tastes. “Our range of equipment gives us the flexibility of producing String & Tag Tea Bags, with the option of packing in Heat Sealed or Crimped Envelopes, Tagless Round or Square Tea Bags in Foil, in Box or in large Catering Bags, Pint bags for the Food Service sector or Airlines and Leaf Tea in various pack sizes,” said Ahmed.

Its portfolio of brands in the UK include Typhoo, Ridgeways, Heath & Heather, London Fruit and Herb, Brooke Bond D, Brooke Bond Choicest, Lift, Melrose, Red Mountain Coffee and recently launched Jewels, which is the Britain’s fastest selling Chocolate Coated Macadamia brand.

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