Hastings College senior Sidy Sissoko’s love for coffee and building connections with people has transcended many obstacles to help him succeed in his dream of launching his own coffee business, LeNoir Dimbaya Coffee, in the spring of 2020.
When Sissoko was 15, he came to the United States as an asylum-seeker from Mali, Africa. By himself, with no knowledge of the culture or how to speak English, he was placed with a family until he graduated high school with the assistance of a Catholic program in San Francisco, California.
Once in college, Sissoko’s coffee journey began in his dorm room in Wyoming where his roommate roasted coffee beans from his family’s farm in Kenya, Africa. Outside of class and his dorm, Sissoko discovered a coffee shop where he was able to meet new people.
“Before that, I had always loved coffee and then me personally when I first came into this country, I was 15 years old. I came without none of my parents so I came with no family, everything, no culture, no language,” Sissoko said. “So coffee has a big impact in my life, helping me to connect with other people cause every single time I found myself at the coffee shop talking to people.”
At the Wyoming coffee shop, Sissoko met individuals that encouraged him to keep practicing his English, going to school and playing basketball, which eventually led him to transfer to HC on a basketball scholarship.
Once at HC, Sissoko started to take business classes with Brody Emery, instructor of business and economics, for his business administration major. “We did a lot of actual business role practices. We would get to talk to other students who come up with a problem about some made-up company and try to solve that problem,” Sissoko said.
Confident and interested in business, Sissoko decided to plan to create a real business named LeNoir Dimbaya Coffee.
“My coffee business is all about the people. It comes from people who work on the coffee. LeNoir means black. Dimbaya, which in my native language, it means family. So I put the French and then my native language together that comes to the name. Which would be LeNoir Dimbaya Coffee, black family coffee,” Sissoko said.
By acknowledging the individuals in the African coffee industry and the place he originates from, Sissoko hopes to inform customers about where their product comes from and the people involved. Through his business, he wants to inspire people to connect and support one another as others have done for him.
“I feel very supported in this community which makes me want to stay here for longer and run this business because after some point as a business owner, when you feel you are being supported, that will give you even more courage to step farther, to keep working and get the goals. Make the dream come true,” Sissoko said.