Common Ground: Sam and Sipho

Wednesday, 19 June, 2013
 Interview by Megan Pilditch

The barista duo, Sam and Sipho, proudly stand behind their workspace. Throughout the photos, and interview, neither of them stopped smiling.
How did you get into the coffee industry?

Sipho: Before I was a barista I worked at the Food and Beverage Company. One of the guys there decided to open up a coffee shop and as he was a barista trainer I ended up doing my training sessions with him. After training I became a barista- that was eight years ago now. In the beginning I didn’t know that being a barista was a ‘good’ profession in life, I just thought it was just something to do with being behind a machine. But I soon realised that it’s so much more than just that.

Sam: I originally wanted to be a teacher but that didn’t work out. However, when a chance appeared and some guys wanted to teach me, I agreed. When I started back in 2001, I trained at Fresh with Brad and Rui (now called vida e caffe). I didn’t know anything about coffee before then but after doing it for a few months it became my passion and it still is. I love it.

What do you love most about being a barista?

Sipho: You get to know a lot of people and it teaches you to grow and refine you personality- it motivates you to be unique just like your customers are unique.

Sipho attends to an early morning order of cappuccinos.

How did you come to work for Ard at Iwantmycoffee?

Sipho: I was working at café Jiran for about four years, and then I moved to Johannesburg where I worked for Illy. In Johannesburg I had a call from Ard telling me he was opening up a coffee shop in Umhlanga. Because I’m a Durbanite I found it very important to come back home and so about two months ago I became employed here.

Sam: I came to work here through Deborah’s father (Ard’s girlfriend dad). He knew me from Vida E Café (Sam worked at vida for just over 10 years).

Simple décor invites coffee-lovers and passers-by inside

What’s it like working for Ard?

Sipho: Ard is good at looking after a people, teaching them life skills and how to be responsible for a business. I rate him as one of the best bosses I have worked for.

Sam: Ard knew my strengths and has got me very involved in the business side of the coffee shop. Everything in the café has been put in the front, this means you can run the store like it’s your own which has taught me a lot. Ard isn’t here all the time so it’s given me more of an opportunity to run this store. I know exactly what needs to be done and when to do it and he always backs me up. This shop feels like my second home.

The concept behind Zulu word of the day?

Sipho: It was the coffee shop’s way of encouraging customers to communicate in another language. Some people love to learn languages but it can be quite difficult. We decided to have a little special link to Zulu whereby everyday there will be a different Zulu word written on the chalkboard walls. These Zulu words are only about coffee and whatever is inside the shop.

“To feel awake”- the feeling you get after walking into a coffee shop and consuming a coffee.

Favourite coffee?

Sipho: I’m a big big BIG coffee connoisseur. My best coffee is a macchiato, which is called a cortado here. That’s where you taste the uniqueness and full bodied taste of the coffee.

Sam: Orange cappuccino. It’s amazing, I drink it everyday. When we open up shop, before we even sell the coffee, we have to taste the coffee to make sure everything is good.

Ard made you sing for an online video recently on iwantmyradio? Is singing a hidden talent perhaps?

Sam: He didn’t tell us beforehand but it was so much fun! I started laughing at him because I have never sung like that in my life, only at church.

Other talents?

Sipho: I have been playing soccer my whole life. This business takes up a lot of my time so I don’t get to play as much as I want to. Oh and I also sing although I’m not that good.

Sam: I am a pastor, play soccer and am a youth leader at my church. I also motivate and counsel the youth and teach. And I look after my three children with my wife.

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