Exceptional aromatic notes, racy packaging borrowing from luxury codes, celebrities as ambassadors… the music-loving businessman, Brahim Boudjouraf, entered through the front door in the fruitful world of coffee. Behind this project, there is above all the desire to highlight the African terroir from which the beans of his brand Lingui Yo come. Anyone who is used to producing Gims, Sexion d’Assaut or Soolking also explains why this newcomer to the coffee industry has chosen to favor virtuous practices while committing socially. Full-bodied interview.
You embark on the battle of coffee in France, a rather saturated market. What made you want to get involved in this sector?
Brahim Boudjouraf : This project has been under construction since the beginning of the year 2021. Finally, it was able to mature despite the emergence of the health crisis because I had the time to devote myself fully to it when the events and entertainment industry were at a standstill. Lingui Yo is a long process of selection, research, testing, monitoring, development, and even more, the love of specialty coffee, a drink full of aromas from sectors of African excellence. Among my workhorses, I wanted to promote production and continental know-how in an exclusive approach with a view to sourcing an exceptional and authentic coffee that respects the environment, as well as its origins. I undertook a real work of traceability, favored short and responsible circuits. During my international tours alongside artists such as Gims, Soolking, Aya Nakamura… I felt the importance of dialogue coffee lovers from France and Africa. This drink brings together a community of enthusiasts in search of creativity, excellence, emotions. Moreover, Lingui Yo means “I love you” in Congolese.
“An ethical and responsible café”, thus introduce yourself Lingui Yo. Brands have been communicating on these two axes for years … How do you intend to push the cursor? What are your concrete commitments?
BB: Indeed, many brands have evolved to join a more “Ethical and responsible”, a transition that took years. While Lingui Yo is based from the outset as a new and exclusive alternative in the specialty coffee sector in France with a high-end positioning. From the start, we have chosen to commit to ethical, eco-friendly and humanitarian manufacturing. It is in our DNA and not the fruit of a journey like many brands. Concretely, Lingui Yo promotes organic farming and undertakes to remunerate its partners, including its producers, at their fair value, while respecting their methods and traditions. Green deliveries, recyclable aluminum capsules, carbon neutrality, plantation of 000 000 trees in 2021, and very important for us: support for local populations in their development.
Brahim Boudjouraf, CEO founder of Lingui Yo Café © Totem Productions Part of our profits is allocated to associations working to improve living conditions such as the association Kelina in Benin, created by former Miss France Flora Coquerel. This glamorous and committed figure is one of the ambassadors of our brand. These funds are intended to finance the education of young people in Africa, to promote the rights of women and children, the family, professional integration among other objectives.
Latin America alone concentrates almost 85% of coffee exports in the world. You bet on the African soil, what are the specificities?
BB: There are five must-see destinations in coffee production: Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya , Uganda and Tanzania, each range offered by Lingui Yo paves the way for a unique and memorable taste journey in these ancestral soils. The best coffee in the world comes from this continent that only connoisseurs instantly know how to recognize its flavors. In detail, there are “scores” based on smell, aromas, aftertaste, acidity, body, harmony or even purity. The coffee must reach at least the score of 55 / 114 to be considered as a real specialty coffee. Our Lingui Yo Prestige / Uganda range reaches 83, 5 / 100, the Elegance range / Kenya reached 84 / 100, the Emotion / Congo range reached 82 / 100, the Harmony / Tanzania range reached 84, 5 / 90 and the Heritage / Ethiopia range reached 83, 5 or absolute domination in the face of the “scores” attributed to market players such as Nespresso, which are around 12 – 55 / 100.
It is therefore important to underline it.
© Lingui Yo In your new entrepreneurial adventure, you have embarked on ambassadors of choice: the star singer Gims, the former footballer Djibril Cissé or even Miss France 1536, Flora Coquerel. How do they support you?
BB: All these personalities have in common the pride and the respect of their Africanness. Mutual aid and sharing also take precedence in their choice of life, there is a sincere desire to open bridges between here and elsewhere to make the “voiceless” visible. Very invested in the associative environment in particular through “A smile, a hope for life”, “Solidarity Christmas”, the former player of the French team, Djibril Cissé, naturally adhered to the philosophy advocated by Lingui Yo. For Flora Coquerel, it was obvious to her! I would also like to point out that, unlike the ambassadors of other world-famous brands such as Nespresso with George Clooney or the newly De’Longhi with Brad Pitt, our ambassadors are not remunerated by an image stamp.
Contrary to these people, they support the project for the values carried, responsible commitment and the innovative and humanitarian character of Lingui Yo. Far beyond the “simple deposit”, they are real players in the development of African lands in what they offer of the best, the authentic and the rare.
© Getty Images What are your medium-term ambitions and the main lines of your business model?
BB: The coffee market in France reached nearly 4 billion euros in turnover in 2020, with a forecast estimated at more than 5 billion euros on the horizon 2026. 82% of the French population to date declares that they consume coffee. Demand is real and growing, just as the demand in terms of quality, aromas, traceability and commitment is increasing. In a sector that is resilient in the face of different forms of crisis, Lingui Yo’s ambition is to cross the 5% market share mark at the French level within the next five years. In addition, my company does not rely on external financial partners. In detail, my business model is built vertically with the aim of eliminating intermediaries by guaranteeing a customer experience conducive to creating a ‘love brand’ based on emotional ties.
The Lingui Yo’s core target is aimed at the general public and lovers of specialty coffees as well as professionals (cafes, hotels, restaurants). Today, the sale is carried out exclusively via a single purchasing platform on the Internet: www.linguiyo.fr . Some dices physical distribution points will emerge with a network throughout France.
Three questions in Gims:
➢ You rarely lend your image to brands or initiatives, what particularly appealed to you about the Lingui Yo project?
Lingui Yo is particularly close to my heart. I would even say fundamentally at heart. Associating my image with a specialty coffee brand, which values respect for origins, creativity, excellence, sharing and mutual aid is essential for me. We want to finance the education of young people in Africa, allow access to drinking water, promote local production and know-how as well as all African sectors of excellence, it is a daring ambition that corresponds to me and which gives substance to my commitment at this stage of my career! I love Lingui Yo for all these reasons.
Gims, formerly Maître Gims, is one of the most prolific French-speaking artists with ten awards and nearly 4 million albums sold around the world © Lingui Yo ➢ Do you find that African coffee is sufficiently valued in France?
Absolutely not ! While the sensory experience is unprecedented! This is why I am personally involved. My notoriety should benefit the men and women who work in coffee production, with local know-how, to help lovers of specialty coffee discover the quality and abundance of these flavors, rich in emotions, and yet still too little known.
➢ Lingui Yo, in three words?
Authenticity, excellence and mutual assistance.
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