The road less travelled: A journey with a coffee (and admittedly, wine) ending

Thursday, 28 July, 2016
In the rear view mirror a pack of party balloons were forever in my line of sight on the road from Durban to Cape Town. Odds and ends thrown in at the last second. A gilt framed painting from a loved one. A heavy-duty lock up safe. Some kitchen utensils. The station wagon ferried these personal belongings through the hustle of Eastern Cape towns that squeeze bodies and vehicles into streets, the line of road and sidewalk very blurry and through the wide open inbetweens littered with aloes. Millions. This is not an exaggeration, millions of the things scattered haphazardly across a dry river bed that stretched for kilometres and kilometres.

We had taken a turn off the National highway and on to Route 62 and suddenly the pace slowed even more, who knew that was possible? It was glorious and bewitching. A road that was simultaneously constantly up and continuously down, a road that never seemed level, always left looking down into a deep gorge or looking up at the side of a mountain that seemed to come out of nowhere. It would have freaked me out if I hadn't been so bloody relaxed. The Cat Empire blared into the silence completely perfect in its joyous trumpeting.

There were fruit trees. We did not know what fruit as the trees were bare. They looked like something out of a Harry Potter novel, like they had all been frightened, leafless branches reaching for the sky begging for mercy. They were apple trees and we were in the Big Apple…of the Cape, Joubertina. Good old Joubs. Millions of apple trees. This is not an exaggeration, the rollicking valleys are home to thousands of lines of carefully tended apple trees that stretch for kilometres and kilometres.

And in all this time, across two full days of travel, I hardly once thought about coffee. This may not seem strange to you and it certainly didn't mean I wasn't drinking coffee, my normal coffee filled headspace had just been filled with all of the nature of this gosh darn gorgeous country and the ratio of political party posters in each of the towns and snippets of SAfm discussing very important and adult topics and when that got too much a touch of classic Whitney Houston and spurts of colourful and entertaining road rage at trucks that shoot mountain passes like F1 cars and double cab drivers that make sure you know you're in their neck of the woods.

So on waking to a beautiful day in the sleepy town of Hermanus, I was frothing for a well made cappuccino and a new cafe experience. A couple of investigative calls later, our destination had been found: The Beanery.

Mike has been in the coffee industry a long time and I absolutely loved talking shop with him as he welcomed us into his busy cafe and Natassia handed me the double shot short cappuccino I had been dreaming of. Mike was part of building the Gourmet Coffee business back in the day and changed gears for a lifestyle business in Hermanus to start his own roastery and cafe. That was around 8 years ago and today, Arabikaz (Mike's roasting company) has a niche market that, by design, stretches only 50km in any direction from Hermanus.

"We are able to service our customers better that way, we don't go looking for them, if people want our beans and we can see they have a genuine interest in making a good cup, then we partner with them."

The cafe, The Beanery, is full of regulars and good vibes. They are proudly part of this community and do everything they can to support it, whether that be through Elaine's (Mike's wife) work with the annual Lighthouse to Lighthouse women's walk to fundraise for numerous charities or helping an aspiring new coffee business get off the ground.

On that note, we were directed by Mike to the promenade to find Vanderbolt Coffee, a coffee tuktuk that has set up shop with an ocean view by a gentleman named Theo. A damn fine location to have a coffee. People heading down to look at whales this season, this is where you want to get your fix.

Intensely caffeinated, we then headed into the Hemel en Aarde valley of wine! Oh how our taste buds were spoilt on this day. Coffee, wine, food and wine pairings. I included only one picture of my incredible food from Creation, and only because it's a tiny cauliflower soup in an espresso cup. We only managed to get to two estates, but both are highly recommended. Sumaridge and Creation did not disappoint.

Basically, you should go to Hermanus when you can, it's magic.

Thank you to Mike for his wonderful hospitality and the delicious organic blend that I have been enjoying at home!

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