TK and Loretta Musungwa have made quite a name for themselves in Victoria Falls during the COVID-19 pandemic, as baristas of excellence, who through their innovative move to service the community with a drive through coffee and smoothie caravan fuelled by passion.
Having returned from the Zimbabwean Diaspora living in Manchester UK in 2015, TK, homesick and eager to reconnect with the country of his birth, arrived unprepared for the challenges that came with the country at the time. “Having tried my hand at farming and transportation of refrigerated goods only to fall royally on my face, I turned to my younger brother for assistance who had recently started his hand at mobile coffee trailers (Zimbarista),” says TK, “and this is when I met Loretta who became instrumental in convincing me to learn about coffee and becoming a Barista. Not only did coffee quickly work its way into my heart and become a passion, but so too did Loretta, and we decided to look at opportunities to set-up a coffee mobile trailer in Zimbabwe’s thriving tourism hub – Victoria Falls.”
Having tried to break into a franchise model which failed to materialise, the couple bought a caravan and decided to gut it and tailor it to their needs and ideas. Loretta continued to work in Harare and TK went ahead to Victoria Falls to find and establish a spot that would work for the couple to shine and make a name for themselves. Having started out at Shoestrings Backpackers, they started to gain traction amongst the tourist community, and particularly backpacker clients who appreciated the product being made readily available to them. Unfortunately they were not yet viewed as bringing value to the premises and so moved across to The Rest Camp where they continued servicing tourists visiting Victoria Falls. Again the couple had started to gain momentum when COVID-19 hit, and the couple were left shell-shocked and paralysed wondering how they would survive.
One afternoon while walking around the neighbourhood, Loretta asked the question staring both her and TK in the face: “why not work from home?” With nothing to lose, except maybe their pride, the couple started to work on their garden and make improvements to their Caravan to begin a “drive through coffee caravan” for the community of Victoria Falls, ideal for social distancing and a concept that would not require “sit-down” customers. In January 2021 they opened up their innovative “drive through coffee caravan” with a chalk board label outside to direct people, and began operating six days a week (Sunday to Friday) from 6am to 6pm. Their coffees and smoothies (including divine lactose free options) quickly became popular, and as word spread, Tk and Loretta were pleasantly surprised by the incredible support that they received from the Victoria Falls community.
In July 2021, to mark their 6 months of operation, they decided to rebrand and give the coffee spot a formal identity which it was seriously lacking. With the help of some special friends from Cape Town – Lloyd & Kim West – they launched with a new brand – Loretta’s Coffee and Smoothie Caravan, aptly named after Loretta as the face of the operation and the spark that ignited their combined passion for all things coffee, and each other. Since July, and in anticipation of the recovery of tourism and a relaxing on restrictions, the couple have made further refurbishments to their garden and have created a “Lloyd’s Play Centre” for clientele to bring their kids to play whilst enjoying their coffee, and an artisans corner for local creatives to showcase their incredible talent and locally made crafts. They say that true passion for coffee is contagious, and TK & Loretta have certainly brewed up a passionate following of clients in the Victoria Falls community through their meticulous and consistent service of delicious coffees and smoothies. “Loretta’s coffee and Smoothie Caravan” is quickly becoming a vibrant and inspiring experience in its own right in the tourism hub of Victoria Falls.