Week 8 Almond Breeze LAVC: George v Graaf Reinet!

Thursday, 20 April, 2017

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Build Up to SCASA Nationals: Barista Competitor Angeline McLagan

Wednesday, 19 April, 2017

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Week 7 Almond Breeze LAVC: A Ballerina!!!

Wednesday, 19 April, 2017

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REVIEW: The Java Maestro Coffee Dripper

Tuesday, 11 April, 2017
The coffee landscape has grown so much in the last 10 years that there are more coffee brewing methods available than you would ever imagine. So what sets them apart from each other? Well they all extract flavour from the coffee in slightly different ways through the materials used, but the other biggest differences are largely aesthetic and price point.

We were sent a Java Maestro to test out and were able to get a pretty great cup of coffee. Always a lot of fun to play with new equipment and this makes a fine addition to our brewing collection!

So why would you choose a Java Maestro Coffee Dripper?

There is no need for additional filters. It's an all in one piece of equipment, the stainless steel cone sits directly on top of your cup. This makes it re-usable, which we like.

The metal filtration gives you an extremely clean cup. The very fine mesh means no sediment or fines get through into your cup. As it was a hot day, we also tried the filter with room temperature water for a quick cold brew and found that the metal filter doesn't really clog up like a paper filter which is pretty useful.

 It is affordable. At R400, you are not breaking the bank for an efficient and durable brewing mechanism.

TIPS: Rinse that bad boy a couple times before using, our first attempt resulted in a rather metallic outcome. As the filter is so microfine, we would recommend you do a detergent soak after every couple of uses to avoid oil build up!

If you'd like to win one of these to make your Easter Holidays that much sweeter, all you need to do is like and share this story with someone you'll be brewing with this weekend!

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Build Up to SCASA Nationals: Barista Competitor Kuda Gezi

Tuesday, 11 April, 2017

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Cafe of the Week: The Upper Millstone

Wednesday, 22 February, 2017

Meet the Upper Millstone

Hilton is getting busier these days - from a quiet country village to a lively and vibrant one, and places like The Upper Millstone - an Artisan Bakery and espresso bar - are right on the cutting edge of that shift. The village keeps its relaxed character, and yet is home to Upper Millstone, the first place in the neighbourhood where I've seen a Hario pour-over on a menu. Right next to a chocolate croissant (big indulgent yum) and a seed loaf (big healthy yum). And they have just started a new range of gourmet sandwiches, so guess where I'm going for lunch on Friday.

I'll tell you one thing - the bakery is humming. They open at 6.30 a.m. and get busy very quickly. All kinds of folk swish through the doors, some to sit for a while, some to grab a morning croissant and coffee to go, all drawn by 2 fundamentals - Really good bread (in a wide and intriguing range of forms), and Really good coffee.

Josh and Hannelie, & Carla and Dreyer, jointly own and work in the shop, crafting and serving the products themselves. For me, this is the essence of the word artisan, and what sets this place apart from other 'coffee shops'.

Dreyer is the barista, and he is a coffee craftsman. An enduring image is his strong arms and hands giving complete and focused attention to an espresso, brought to me at the comfy corner sofa. It's like he is giving birth to this little cup through sheer force of craftsmanship and care. I know he has thrown away and remade at least one espresso on my behalf, because he wasn't happy with the extraction. This guy cares about making each shot as good as he can. I can taste that.

I asked him what he thought people should know about The Upper Millstone, and he said "We try to go out of our way to build relationships with our customers, we do not just want to know what coffee they like, but also how their kids and family are doing."

I sit in the corner and watch the people come and go, a set of morning waves breaking gently into the shop. There is usually someone I know in the mix of customers, and I never quite know who it's going to be.

Everybody wants the bread. I've sampled several kinds since October 2016 when they opened, and every loaf and pastry is well made. Josh is often up at 3.00 a.m., and he puts tremendous time and effort into being the best baker he can be.

I love the friendliness - I feel welcome and relaxed. I love the music that keeps me awake, yet doesn't overload the experience of being here. I love the uncluttered and tasteful furniture - all the unique shop fittings and original furnishings were done by the owners themselves, emphasising the hands-on approach that they take to their craft.

There's a lekker aftertaste of espresso in the background as I leave the shop with a loaf of multigrain bread and a croissant or two for the kids. I came in with anticipation, I leave feeling cheerful and ready to face the world, a little closer to the sun.

The Upper Millstone is an Artisan Bakery and Espresso Bar in Hilton Village in the Kwa-Zulu-Natal Midlands. Facebook gets you a virtual visit, (but you can't smell freshly baked bread through a screen), so for the real thing - they're on Hilton road, Jacaranda centre unit 7, Hilton. Open from Tuesday to Saturday, 6.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. in the week, 6.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. on Saturday. I'll probably see you there. Look for the guy in the corner chilling on the couch with an espresso, a croissant and a big fat smile.

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Krust Cafe and the San Remo Cafe Racer

Thursday, 6 April, 2017
Tucked in the Garden Route town of George, Krust Cafe, is a beautiful new coffee spot and they have something that no one else in the country can boast about, the first San Remo Cafe Racer in South Africa. It is a spectacular machine. We chatted to Carla and Nelonia, the two women behind this fine establishment.

How did you fall in love with coffee and what led to opening Krust Cafe?

We always loved good coffee and after selling our previous Restaurant the Peperboom Restaurant in Great Brak River, we were on the lookout for a new venture. The perfect spot opened up at the new Eden Meander Lifestyle Centre in George and we saw the opportunity. We visited many roasters and coffee shops in Cape Town and Johannesburg for research and we were inspired by roasters like Origin and Deluxe Coffeeworks.

Do you roast your own coffee? Tell us how you went about choosing the coffee that was right for your customers.

We don't roast ourselves, but chose to leave that to the experts! We like to keep it local and Ben Ferreira from Brothers Coffee a local roaster from Great Brak River with his passion and knowledge about coffee made him the perfect choice. He strives to better his coffee and craft every day and that pushes us to do the same. We found the perfect pairing with his Genio 6 roaster and our Cafe Racer to produce the perfect cup to our customers.

You’re breaking new ground by owning the first San Remo Cafe Racer in the country, what was the thing that made you decide that you absolutely had to have it?
We wish we could say it was the technology at first but as women we just thought it was very, very pretty. After a lot of research and help from Ben we decided that it will take Krust to a whole new level.

Tell us about how it’s been treating you so far?

It is truly a remarkable machine and we've never looked back. It's every baristas dream to operate one and any owners most honest worker. One of our biggest criteria was consistency and the Racer delivers that every time. The Racer tells you what you need to know after pouring every shot.

You host a lot of educational coffee events, why are these important to you?
Our customers love quality coffee and wanted to know to make good coffee at home. So we started selling different brewing methods and grinders. Our first cupping evening was very successful and kept growing from there. We integrated palate development, coffee pairing and cupping with Shaun Aupiais from PE this year and our evenings are a sellout. It just showed us the tremendous growing coffee culture in the Garden Route.

What are the other great features that people can expect when they visit Krust Cafe?
We are dedicated to service and quality and are involved in every detail. At Krust we believe that there is no substitute for flavor and all our food is prepared fresh! We also baked inhouse and sell fresh beans including our house blend that we pack and grind to our customers needs.

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SCASA: The Politics of Coffee and what you can do about it.

Thursday, 6 April, 2017

By Iain Evans

So it’s all about the marches this week. To march or not to march, why I’m marching etc.
Endless rhetoric, justifications, counter-punches and all the emotions that fizzle and crackle around this sense of emboldened action spurned on by the ex-Finance Minister. At least people are beginning to shake off their apathy, regardless of their motives.

But this is not a political post - it’s a post about coffee. But it is directly linked to the sentiment around the marches. This is a post about community, the community of coffee - and this is a direct plea to take action (since we’re all in the mood this week to take action!). SCASA, the Speciality Coffee Association of South Africa is giving you, Coffee Shop/Brand/Service owner/patron/citizen of the Coffee Community to be represented and stand in solidarity with others in the coffee community.

Yes, I’m taking liberties with political discourse, but there is a real and serious point to this post. In the past, and by that I mean, even until now, many people ask : “What does SCASA do for me? “ Why should I be part of this Association? (and so on…) and these are valid questions, and I hope to give you some simple and valid answers.  

Firstly, SCASA is not just about Speciality Coffee. This is a misnomer. It is about representing everyone in South Africa. The name is not as important as the vision and everyone in coffee in SA is welcome to be part of it.

Secondly. What does SCASA do? Basically, it does three things -

1. It owns the license for SA to participate in the WCE (World Coffee Events) Barista, Latte Art and Cup Tasters competitions, by running the Regionals and National competition in SA to the same standard and through these competitions, send South African National Champions to the “Worlds” in all 3 disciplines (and Judges and coaches and Team Members) The knowledge aquired at these global events filters back to us on the ground here, and then through to all our friends, staff, members and consumers and also puts SA on the Map (Don McLagan 5th in Cup tasters, Craig and Ishan, 15th and 18th at Barista Comp respectively.)

2. SCASA is aiming to allocate an enormous amount of time and expertise to training South Africans to be Coffee Professionals - baristas, roasters, green coffee traders and all other aspects of the food and hospitality Industry. SCASA is currently working on how to use your membership fees directly to upskill regular South Africans, including unemployed youth, those without access to skills training and the next generation of coffee professionals, from all walk of life in SA. 

3. Through it’s Members, SCASA has/is creating World Recognised training at SCAE and University standards - for more on these, click here, there’s an entire blog dedicated to this.

Finally…let’s answer the "What does SCASA do for me?" question…. In 2017 SCASA allows you and your coffee business to formally become part of the Coffee Community in SA at 7 upcoming events in the next 8 months. At the following Shows where SCASA is represented: Hostex, Good Food & Wine Shows (JHB, CT, DBN) and Coffee&Choc (JHB, CT, DBN) and Homemakers PE, you (by this I mean once you’ve paid your SCASA membership of R2500) you get a ridiculously good offer to join the SCASA Coffee Village at each of these shows, at a fraction of the cost of any other businesses out there.

Like the answer to many existential questions, often the true meaning in what we do is found when we stop looking out only for ourselves and realise that we are who we are because of others. Umuntu NgemuntuNgabantu. This is true of the Coffee Community in SA too!

So the next time you catch yourself or one of your coffee colleagues sitting around complaining about the Government of SCASA then ask yourself if you took the opportunities presented to you - and by this I mean a beautiful stand at the Premier Trade Shows in SA where literally thousands of people from the Public and the Food & Beverage Industry can sample your coffee/buy your equipment, chat to you about your business… and besides that, the chance to interact with hundreds (hopefully!) of other coffee businesses just like yours. Our community is only as strong as those who represent it positively!


Nick Sarnardas - nicks@specialised.com or 083 519 3599

Good Food & Wine Show

Daniel Bloch - daniel@fieramilano.co.za or 083 306 0579

Coffee & Chocolate

Nadine Shone - info@coffeechoc.co.za or 082563332

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