The unexpected combination of engineering and coffee making created a person whose goal is helping others: Ola Hassan.
Hassan, a long-time resident of Milpitas and one of the engineering pioneers of Silicon Valley, was also a candidate for city council this year. Although he did not win the race, Hassan continues to use all his skills in running a business and contributing to the community.
But how do engineering and coffee skills come into play as media for giving?
For 25 years, Hassan worked for engineering companies such as WaveSplitters Technologoies, Quantom, Maxtor, Apple, Intel, KLA Instruments and Epr. During those years, dependency on coffee became inevitable and a necessity for engineers to complete their projects. Hassan explained that the constant long hours of work led engineers forcing themselves to drink coffee, even if it resulted in puking.
Hassan then took the initiative to research the genetic makeup of coffee. He told his colleagues, “We know the health benefits for coffee but we do not know why it is having a different reaction among [different] people.”
In his research, he found that there are two types of coffee: Robusta and Arabica. He then dove deeper into the research of Arabica, its origins, how it is grown and processed, and how its different elements affect the well being of people.
The research showed that Arabica originated from Africa and that Africa has the best climate for growing coffee naturally. Also, through experiments, it was shown that one cup of coffee has a pH level equivalent to a can of beer. And, the way the coffee is being processed and grown are enormous factors in its pH levels.
Because coffee is a great absorbent material, artificially growing the beans leads to the acidity. Hassan explained that most coffee industries use UV lights to artificially ripen the beans as well as fertilizer and pesticides for growing them, which heightens the pH levels.
With all his discoveries, Hassan concluded that processing coffee naturally and in its natural environment reduces acidity. And that is how his coffee shop, Ola’s Exotic Coffee and Tea, came to be. He took matters of directing the benefits of coffee in an organic and healthy matter in his own hands.
“I do not drink any other coffee. This is the only one I can drink... I have no reaction and that is a testimony from everybody—from our customers all over the world,” Hassan said.
Hassan’s coffee comes from several African countries and he uses its natural absorbent as a beneficiary.
“Drink coffee from Sudamo, it tastes chocolatey. From Tanzania, you can taste the spices,” Hassan said.
Not only does he travel to all the birthplaces of the coffee, but he has begun humanitarian efforts there as well. With the profits, he gives back to the community, the environment the coffee is being grown in, and to the natives.
What was first the desire to help engineers’ reaction to coffee became the source of helping the world drink coffee for its health benefits. And now, Hassan’s desire to give back to others is focused on Milpitas.
“We are putting Milpitas on the map,” Hassan said. “I lived here for so many years. I raised all of my family here and I love the environment, the people. Everybody knows Ola. It is a very good, small community.”
Even though he did not win this year’s election, Hassan wants to remain involved in the local government and use his creativity for the “goodness and progress of the city.” He wants to “go beyond politics and be about the people,” as well as focus on other issues such as developing a downtown, the schools for Milpitas, and diminish the “smelly city” reputation by using engineering to eliminate the excess bacteria in the atmosphere.
He plans to run for the next election and to get involved in commissions and help the world, one coffee cup at a time.
“I have fun doing what I do. [I also enjoy] having an impact and being a leader and pointing people in the right direction,” Hassan said.