Advertisement



Industry

September 10, 2011

The Koto Project

Many children as young as ten were selling wares like postcards and chewing gum to support their large family units. Many of these children he talked to had come from poor rural areas by themselves to seek work in the busy city of Hanoi. Jimmy straight away had a vision of how he could turn his knowledge of tourism/hospitality into training these disadvantaged youth, giving them a helping hand into a worthy career and providing some stability in their lives.

All the money that Jimmy earned as a tour guide went into feeding and sheltering a small group of children, but he knew he had to do more to get to the bigger problem of the growing street kid numbers. This is how KOTO was born, and 11 years on it is now a well recognised institution throughout the whole of Vietnam as a quality hospitality training provider. KOTO stands for ‘Know One, Teach One’. The philosophy is the basis of this charitable organisation, that has trained hundreds of young adults and helped them to become hospitality professionals.

Jimmy moved to Australia when he was two years of age and was part of a hospitality background, with his family running a busy Vietnamese restaurant in Sydney. He could see how hard work in the hospitality business gives excellent life experiences, and this also guided his own life cycle. Jimmy let us in on a little secret: his mum was also part of this street scenario, living and working for food as a small child in this once war torn country – a circumstance that is very hard for us to imagine. One of the best rewards Jimmy has received since his time with KOTO is the endorsement by his mother for all his hard work and dedication to this youth project.

KOTO is now a world recognised hospitality training organisation, with affiliations to world class hospitality leaders. This is how we received the chance invitation to visit KOTO in Hanoi – via a barista training module arrangement with Box Hill Institute in Melbourne, who have an ongoing partnership with KOTO. Fellow travelling companion Justin Metcalf and I jumped at the opportunity to go to Hanoi to help hand pick and train baristas to compete in the Vietnam Barista Championship, which is held in September. Barista courses are part of the 24-month traineeships through KOTO, and the students get to learn a lot of coffee theory, but don’t get much practical experience.

Espresso coffee is slowly starting to emerge in the wealthier sector of the Vietnamese social scene, and it is hard for students to benchmark quality of service. This is where Justin’s skill as a World Barista Judge came into the mix. We had four days to train over 100 student trainees in the practical side of coffee making. The passion and work ethics of these young kids made the task surprisingly simple, and the entire group of teenagers came away with a good understanding of basic espresso presentation.

KOTO is funded by sponsorship and fundraising, and they also have a group of restaurants and corporate catering. The restaurant in Hanoi is a place of high energy, run by the KOTO kids, and the two levels of café restaurants on all our visits were full to the brim with a mixed audience of international business people, ex pats and tourists. All diners at KOTO look for high end quality food and beverage, and it was interesting to look at the the walls, which were adorned with pictures of high profile patrons like US President Clinton, the King and Queen of Denmark and our own PMs, John Howard and Julia Gillard. It was obviously the ‘in place’ on everyone’s itinerary when visiting Hanoi – to drop by KOTO for a cuppa.

KOTO international is run by Lorette Brown in Australia, a long time supporter of Jimmy. She has a massive task of seeking financial support from Australian businesses and the public to fund the training of over 60 trainees a year. Box Hill Institute in Melbourne throughout the year hosts special variety nights to raise money for KOTO, with an event pencilled on the calendar for August 3 this year. At the previous event, Australian media personality Mick Molloy ran the silent auction and hosted the fun gala night, raising much needed funds for this charity.

While we were in Vietnam, we took the opportunity to explore the colourful café culture of Hanoi. When most people visit Vietnam, they discover the importance of freshness in this food culture. Food is a very important daily ritual for Vietnamese people, and every street corner has a gastronomic delight – from deep fried tofu and stewing Pho, to hand rolled rice paper rolls filled with fresh herbs and crab meat. I had no problem eating from street stalls, because of the freshness of the products and the eye for detail in presentation. My stomach lasted the week undisturbed – which is a first for me. Vietnam has a Colonialist attachment to France, and the art of baking is one of the few good overflows from this questionable relationship. Good bread can be found all over Vietnam.

Vietnam is the world’s second largest producer of Robusta coffee and provides the world instant coffee market annually with 1.2 million tonnes, which equates to 2.6 billion dollars in export revenue. The local café scene uses mostly local coffees, which are dark roasted Robusta, brewed through a metal cup drip filter. The beverage is then put into a cocktail shaker with ice, shaken well and poured over a good serve of sweet condensed milk. It is a refreshing, sticky brew – with a massive caffeine hit that is more than enough to start your day with a bang. The espresso industry is slowly developing through the international hotels and through a few newly developed coffee chains like Highlander Café, Illy concept cafés and the odd Starbucks. Like most developing Asian countries I have visited, I know it won’t take long before the espresso culture goes crazy and western café influences will become a part of these quickly growing cities.

It was a very short visit to Vietnam, and it has sparked my appetite to see more of this wonderful country. I’m hoping to get the chance to visit the coffee growing areas in the southern parts of the nation.

We had the hard task of narrowing the trained KOTO baristas down to a small group, who will be put forward to compete in the Vietnam Barista Championships on 28 September in Ho Chi Minh City.

This was one of the most worthwhile industry experiences I have been lucky enough to be involved with during my hospitality career. The direct feedback I received from the KOTO kids during the short training time was inspiring and also changed my skeptical outlook on our industry and why I got involved. I would like to give credit to this small group of teenagers, as they have set great examples of a passion for living and showing the world what they can do with a second chance in life. I would like to urge Australian hospitality suppliers who would like to donate products, services or finances to this great project to please get involved; it does not take a lot to make a real change to a child’s welfare.

To Support KOTO, please contact Lorette Brown – lorette@koto.com.au





Advertisment Advertisment
 
 

 

Sign In

COVID safe touchless contact register for your staff & customers. Safe, Secure & Simple to use. Customers scan your unique QR code via the camera...
by Cafe Culture Mag
 

 
 

Would you walk over 2 weeks for a cup of coffee?

By CCDigital – August 4, 2020  Just how far would you walk for a cup of coffee? Community Bean Coffee’s founder, Nathan Stone, has been walking for 19 days on a human-sized hamster wheel to try and fund his new busi...
by Cafe Culture Mag
 

 
 

The Wood Roaster

By CCDigital – August 4, 2020  Situated on Shepherd Street, in the heart of Marrickville is The Wood Roaster, one of the most unique speciality coffee roasters in New South Wales and winner of MICE 2020...
by Cafe Culture Mag
 

 

 

Puqpress success is just the beginning

By CCDigital – August 4, 2020  Puqpress is now in over 50% of cafes across Australia. Leveraging off this huge success, Barista Technology are now focusing on building a strong team and an armament of new products. Br...
by Cafe Culture Mag
 

 
Advertisement
 

Karvan Coffee Roasters

Family-owned in WA, Brad and Fleur have created truly exceptional products for the specialty coffee market. “For us, it’s not just about offering scrumptious coffee beans, it’s about the people. Forming connections, embra...
by Cafe Culture Mag
 

 

 

Pure Tea

Ethically sourced, sustainably produced, and high grade – Pure Tea seeks to offer tea leaves that look after both the drinker and the environment. Owned and operated by Brad and Fleur, the husband and wife duo have a pass...
by Cafe Culture Mag
 

 
 

The Packaging People Pty. Ltd

The Packaging People The Packaging People is a 100% Australian owned and operated family business serving multiple industries Australia wide. We are the trusted packaging company for over 10,000 customers across all areas of Au...
by Cafe Culture Mag
 

 

 
Priestleys

Priestley’s Gourmet Delights

Priestley’s Gourmet Delights puts the Cake in Coffee & Cake. Reach out to us and experience our latest creations including our much loved range of gluten free and vegan desserts. Australian family owned and operated, our ...
by Cafe Culture Mag
 

 
 

Coronavirus information and support for business

By CCDigital – July 27, 2020 Find financial assistance, eligibility and timing for the new government support for Australian businesses. We’ll be updating this page as new information is available. Latest news Extens...
by Cafe Culture Mag
 

 
 

E65S – Faster, Quieter and More Consistent!

By CCDigital – July 29, 2020  The E65S grind by weight is set for release later this year and Barista Technology will be launching the new M3 Puqpress to sit underneath both models in September.  Mahlkonig are th...
by Cafe Culture Mag
 

 




ad