Managing director of the Starlite Group of Companies Gerald Aboud realised one of his lifelong dreams, yesterday, when he opened his first coffee shop at South Park, San Fernando.
As he formally opened the first of many NOVA Coffee Trinidad shops, Aboud made a plea for Government to relax the laws which prevent the importation of green beans from several countries.
“In TT, you are not allowed to import green coffee beans from Guatemala, Ethiopia and even Colombia- some of the best suppliers of coffee in the world,” Aboud said. He said they can and have imported green coffee beans from Brazil, which will be roasted locally. World renowned coffee expert Tracy Allen of Brewed Behaviour fame, flew in from Kansas to train local staff at NOVA in the art of roasting and brewing a unique cup of coffee.
Aboud said the importation licence presently allows for only roasted beans, which are priced four times higher than the green beans.
“And the coffee never tastes as good because coffee has a life span of one week. This needs to change. By roasting all the beans ourselves, we can save foreign exchange, invest into the local industry, and we can also export. Coffee is one of the largest traded commodities in the world and we can be a part of this trade.”
Aboud said he has been on a mission to revitalize the local industry, using local chicken and vegetables in the Starlite pharmacies and the same principle would be applied to NOVA.
“I have been focused for years on developing the local economy through the Starlite Group of Companies. I have seen where vendors producing local goods have experienced great success with making things locally. Trinbagonians and businesses need to think more about supporting local and producing local because we can’t rely on oil and gas, obviously.”
San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello, who joined Aboud in cutting the ribbon to open the coffee shop, welcomed him and his family for having the confidence to make a $20 million investment in San Fernando. “San Fernando is booming because of the start of the waterfront development, and the local government reform which will give us the autonomy to negotiate with business people for a better San Fernando,” he said. Regrello said some $200 million will be invested in the first phase of the waterfront.