Episode Four: Meet Mike Chizeya, Mentor to Selati Scholarship Candidates

Wednesday, 22 August, 2018

The Selati Barista Scholarship Initiative has given 12 people the opportunity to pursue a meaningful career in coffee. In this episode we meet one of our Cafe Partner Owners, Mike Chizeya who started Micoffee in Port Elizabeth. He mentored two candidates in the Eastern cape, Simthembile Notshulwana and Monwabisi Nohashe. We are so grateful for his commitment to this program and uplifting the youth in our country.

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Top 6 of the SA Latte Art Video Challenge Announced!

Friday, 17 August, 2018

The Top 6 Finalists of the Almond Breeze Latte Art Video Challenge™  (LAVC) have been decided!  These baristas will be submitting their FINALS ROUND videos this week and you, the public will get to decide who's Latte Art Video will win the cash!

  1. Innocent Chakanyuka - Truth Coffee, Cape Town.
  2. Ricardo Muller - Beans About Coffee Hartenbos
  3. Edward - Cup - O - Cafe
  4. Jabulani - Toast Food Co.
  5. Nigel Kamhanda - InFood Coffee Society, Jeffery's Bay.
  6. Groove - Truth Coffee, Cape Town

Watch all their videos here!

These baristas will compete for the LAVC South African title and prizemoney of: 

R10,000 Winner

R7,500 Runner Up

R5,000 Third place

The Almond Breeze Latte Art Video Challenge has been running in 5 Countries over the past 2 months, with some incredible Latte Art Skills being shown. Check out www.latteartvideochallenge.com  for the past 8 weeks videos across all countries.

The overall Global Winner of the LAVC 2018 will win an all-expenses paid trip to compete in the Almond Breeze Breezey Masters Global Latte Art Competition! This will be the barista with the most votes across all Countries in the LAVC FINALS ROUNDS. 

About Almond Breeze:

Almond Breeze Barista Blend has been created specially for coffee lovers, baristas and coffee shops. It compliments the taste of coffee and produces a rich, creamy froth to sit atop lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites. Barista Blend not only delivers a great taste but many important health benefits. 

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Destination: MAME Coffee, Zurich

Thursday, 16 August, 2018


Josefstrasse 160, 8005 Zurich, Switzerland

“The best coffee is the coffee you like”. This motto adorns the window of MAME Coffee Shop in Zurich, where I recently found myself indulging in a caffeine high…  

After a few days in Switzerland without any access to good coffee, entering MAME Coffee Shop in Zurich is like reaching sanctuary. Zurich is as cosmopolitan as it gets – a constant buzz of motion and activity – but the buzz is just a little less busy in Kreis 5 (District 5), the up-and-coming formerly-industrial quarter.

Here in Zurich-West, old industrial spaces have been transformed into a modern and trendy neighbourhood of apartments, parks, art galleries, restaurants, and an eclectic mix of businesses and stores creatively built under the arches of the railway viaduct. It’s the perfect place to slow down and enjoy a cup of coffee.

We find MAME on Josefstrasse – a modern space with a long centre table and stools where you can watch the magic happen behind the counter. One whole wall of the shop is dedicated to the art and science of good coffee, with every accessory you might need to hone your barista craft. 

Chocolate, fruity, or floral?

Emi Fukahori is the co-owner of MAME along with Mathieu Theis, both Swiss Barista Champions. Emi is behind the counter when we walk in, and happily explains our coffee tasting options to us. With a choice between the Flight, Filter Trio, Espresso Trio and the “Crazy” barista selection for coffee fanatics, we decide on the Flight and Espresso Trio. The next big question is chocolate, fruity or floral – what flavour profile do we prefer?

Emi talks us through the options. The beans from Brazil bring the chocolate flavour for those who like their coffee with less acidity, the Columbian beans bring the fruity flavour for the more adventurous, while the Ethiopian beans bring the complex floral notes for those who want to try something new. Fun fact: MAME means ‘beans' in Japanese.

Good things come in threes

The Flight is a set of small pours from one single origin served three different ways – as a filter coffee, espresso and cappuccino. I choose chocolate, and am presented with three beautiful cups on a small bamboo board. Emi guides me to sip from the filter coffee to appreciate the taste, but then move on to the espresso and cappuccino before going back to finish the filter, to truly appreciate the subtle differences. 

The Espresso trio is a tasting of all three flavour profiles – the chocolate, fruity and floral – and it’s an adventurous experience if you’re not a big coffee drinker. It really opens your eyes to the dynamic quality of coffee – not to mention keeping your eyes open for a good few hours after that much caffeine.

Our visit to MAME is short but sweet – we have to say goodbye, but not before taking a photo of Emi with an old copy of the Coffee Magazine, which she had just by chance on the MAME bookshelf dedicated to all things coffee. A crazy coincidence when you find yourself 13,000km from home!

If you too find yourself in Zurich, MAME is a must-do for any specialty coffee lover. I can honestly say it was the best coffee I’ve ever had, and I’m glad I got to tick it off my coffee bucket list.

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New Kid on the Block: Prodigy Cafe

Thursday, 16 August, 2018

7 Tetford Circle Umhlanga
4001 Durban, KwaZulu-Natal

Prodigy Cafe is unexpected. An unexpected joy on the Umhlanga Ridge, tucked away inside the SHF in Umhlanga. 

I mean, with the backing of SHF, you know it's going to be beautiful and high quality. As a naturally clumsy person, I was a bit terrified really, so many gorgeous details and potential things to break. But seriously, it's stunning. They've used the space to it's full potential and showed off their access to one of the best names in home decor.

The lovely barista, Nelly, served us delicious cortados. They use Ground Coffee House beans and with equipment like a custom white La Marzocco Linea and her mad skills, you can't really go wrong. Craig Smith (Ground Coffee House) and Dylan Botha (Noble Coffee) are both well-known in the KZN coffee scene and they put their heads together on this one to make sure that everything is looking fine and tasting better.

I'm sure the weekends are intense for them, we were there on a weekday afternoon when it was chilled and the perfect space for a productive meeting.

Pics supplied by Prodigy Coffee unless otherwise stated.

Photo: The Coffee Magazine/Mel Winter

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Episode Three: Meet Sindiswa Mtolo, Deaf Barista Candidate

Thursday, 16 August, 2018

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Travel: In Search of Speciality Coffee

Friday, 17 August, 2018

Words by Meegan Rourke-McGill

Café culture might have originated in Europe, but, as we recently discovered on a trip through the Swiss and French Alps, coffee culture is still slow going outside of the city centres. It was an unexpected ‘surprise’ to discover that proximity to Italy does not guarantee a good coffee! 

Out in the mountain towns of both Switzerland and France, the ‘specialty’ coffee scene is scarce. Order a coffee from a café, and you’re likely to get coffee at the press of a button – from either an industrial automated machine or a single-portion Nespresso pod. While coffee capsules are nothing if not consistent, they just don’t hit the spot when you’re used to the flavour of artfully roasted, freshly ground and brewed beans…

We hit the jackpot with MAME in Zurich, run by two Swiss Barista Champions, Emi Fukahori and Mathieu Theis. Emi is a master of her craft, and the coffee was truly exceptional. 

Don’t order a cappuccino

Coffee in France on the other hand has a reputation for being particularly terrible (outside of Paris). I couldn’t bring myself to believe the rumours, but after receiving a watered-down milky coffee with a thin layer of airy froth on top (supposedly a cappuccino), I was inclined to agree. You can learn from my mistake though – don’t order a cappuccino. This will result in a weak, flavourless cup of disappointment. Make sure you order un café crème – the French version of an espresso with foamed milk. 

Apparently, the story behind France’s lacklustre coffee dates back to its colonial history. Coffee from the former French colonies was cheap, and mostly Robusta, hence the bitter taste that the French are now accustomed to. Fortunately for us in France, we had a moka pot and Lavazza drip coffee to tide us over until our return to South Africa and its remarkably advanced specialty coffee culture!

The wonderful thing about travelling though is that you learn so much about different places, people, and cultures. Being a stranger in a foreign country forces you to try new things and expand your comfort zones. For example, I tried the Swiss Alpine version of Mac ‘n Cheese – Älpermagronen. I was surprised to find diced potatoes amidst my macaroni, and a bowl of applesauce on the side. It was…unusual! Travelling does also teach you to appreciate the creature comforts of home though – like a French Press, single origin Arabica beans, and good old South African mac ‘n cheese.

What France lacks in coffee, they make up for in Crémant de Savoie (sparkling wine) and sorbet.

When you can’t find coffee, you have to get creative.

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Episode Two: Meet Awanda Madlala

Thursday, 9 August, 2018

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The Extraordinarily High Cost of Cheap Coffee

Wednesday, 8 August, 2018

Words by David Donde

As the representatives of the sharp end of coffee we have an obligation. Perhaps it is more of a duty? A duty to justify the prices we charge for coffee by delivering a cup worthy of its price. A duty to pay our baristas fairly. A duty to give those baristas a career path. A duty to enable that career path by offering them training. A duty to buy coffee that can fulfill the obligation in that cup offered to our loyal patrons. A duty to learn how to roast as well as humanly possible. A duty to buy green coffees worthy of the Herculean effort that will follow. A duty to pay fair prices to the grower. A duty to grow coffees worthy of a fair price. A duty as a business owner to learn how to do all those things.

This is is the value chain. And you, Customer, are breaking it. You are being unfair. You are compromising your duty. Every time you buy a cup of coffee and complain about the price, you force the Cafè to think about lowering its pricing. To evaluate where it can cut corners. Can we pay our baristas less? Can we eliminate training? Can we avoid growing our business for a while? Can we buy cheaper coffee? Can we avoid hiring? Can we squeeze our roaster for a lower price?

Cafe owner, every time you complain about the price of your coffee you are incentivizing  your roaster to pay less to their roasting team. To cut quality control standards or practices. Discouraging their opportunities to employ. Forcing them to buy coffees on price rather than quality. To buy down. To prize efficiency over quality. 

Roasters, your compromises on purchasing are forcing farmers to champion quantity over quality. To cut corners. To refuse shoes and education to their children. To hold them back from economic freedom. 

Go to the average “great” cafe and see their coffee offered for ten or twenty percent more than a bottled water. How does that respect the coffee; the barista; the roaster; the grower? Is your coffee only a little better than your water? Then fair enough. Is it representative of the effort of all of those people who brought that amazing coffee from seed to cup? Then respect the difference. Respect the value. Charge fairly. Charge appropriately. 

Coffee, like wine, deserves a spread of pricing. Cheap for average; pricey for the good stuff and expensive for the experiences. 

This is fair, no? This builds a culture. This builds an economy. This is part of a dream of emancipation that coffee can and should help deliver. 

Cafes charging fairly will be able to pay baristas fairly. A good barista should not be earning a small percentage more than minimum wage. A good barista should be able to be a meaningful contributor to his lifestyle, his family and his community. Charge more and you will need to pay more to keep your barista. And this is good. Your barista will spend more in the community; allowing the coffee price to be afforded by the community. This is building an economy. We can’t shrink our way to greatness. 

Smaller cafes shouldn’t be intimidated by the pricing of the large franchises and charge a bit less. They should show up the larger operations with a better offer and thus justify a higher price and loyalty. 

Big dogs with big footprints, start having the value in the cup improve. Let your customers understand the value of quality by your team understanding that value has two sides to its coin. Price and quality. That quality deserves to be easy to taste. Try it with special offerings. But don’t cheat. Buy great coffees. Dare to really try going up the quality ladder. Dare to offer a coffee that doesn’t just cost more for a premium. But tangibly tastes better. Is different. Is worth charging a lot more for. Respect your clientele. They aren’t as dumb as your board’s demographic presentations suggest. They aren’t data points, they are individuals Those that care about quality and think about what they drink will get it. And respect you for it. Give them credit for being able to enjoy the finer things in life. 

But damn you if you charge more and don’t produce something better. 

Damn you if you don’t pay staff fairly from the increased profits. 

Damn you if you do this and don’t insist on buying better coffee

Damn you if you aren’t prepared to pay more for better. 

There are two scenarious. R22 for a double flat white. R20 for the water. Minimum wage. Buying from the lowest convenient bidder. Commodity grade coffee from farmers on the poverty line. Mass unemployment. A South Africa with low economic confidence. 

Or or we can charge and enjoy paying upwards of R40, still leaving us with one of the cheapest speciality coffee offerings in the world. Paying our baristas fairly. Hiring more staff. Paying for better coffee. Allowing the better farmers to charge more, allowing them to further improve their economies and offerings. We in the coffee industry get to wear a badge of pride in what we do on our lapels. We  are not hiding from shame at our known mediocrity. It is easier to defend high prices when your practices are uncompromising. The shame of misrepresenting or cheating or cost cutting are removed from the tightly  shut closet doors of our guilty consciences. We step into the light of the upward spiral. Of customers slapping down a fair price with a smile in expectation of a mindfully enjoyed cup of the pinnacle of our geeky craft, basking in the full knowledge of the good being done all the way down the value chain. People paid to care are paying others to care. Each cup of coffee making a positive difference to every community. The coffee drinkers. The cafe owners. The baristas. The logistics teams. The roasteries. The coffee roasters. The trainers. The green bean buyers. The coffee farmers. And maybe even the environment. Maslow’s pyramid can only have a healthy effect on that. 

We we can either support a downward spiral or an upwards climb. Everything is connected. We are either choosing to be part of the solution or part of the problem. 

Still want a discount on that coffee?

Deliver on your duty. Ask for better. Demand better. 

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