South Africa’s first blind barista is steaming hot and ready to serve his customers.
Joseph Matheatau, 38, proudly showed off his skills at the re-launch of Blindiana Barista coffee shop and museum in Church Street, Worcester.
He deftly ground coffee beans, frothed milk and served up cappuccinos and lattes as people stood in queues to taste his creations.
Joseph, born and raised in Balaclava in the Free State, relies mostly on sound when brewing coffee.
“When I froth the milk I listen for a sound like paper tearing, then I know it’s done,” he explains.
He went blind in his right eye at the age of four, and became completely blind in 2010 due to glucoma.
Joseph, who has a wife who is also a blind and a sighted two-year-old son, says school was tough because teachers often accused him of being lazy and would punish him for his ugly handwriting.
Practicing karate helped to keep the frustrated little boy out of trouble.
“It taught me discipline,” he explains.
But his life changed when he came to Worcester and started learning how to lead an independent life at Kaleidoscope, formerly known as The Institute for the Blind.
In 2014 he started training in the art of coffee making to become South Africa’s first blind barista.
He says as a child, he used to boil water over an open fire to make his mom Maria a cuppa.
“My mom always said I make the best tea,” he laughs.
Joseph now hopes to study to become an industrial psychologist.