5 reasons why Good Coffee = Good business

Thursday, 17 August, 2017
5 reasons why Good Coffee = Good business.
(Take this article to your boss immediately!)

Everyone has horror stories about their first jobs. The apprentice who stands knee deep in sh*t for the first 6 weeks of his plumbing apprenticeship, the junior doctor who on their first weekend of community service ends up running an entire rural hospital’s casualty ward with only one nurse or the junior attorney, graduating with a 90% summa cum laude who ends up in dock review for a year, fighting monsters in the basement of the firms bowels before seeing sunlight. What do they have in common? Well, everyone has to start somewhere, even if you’re a Millennial destined for greatness by writing a blog, then you know that starting at the bottom and working hard is the only way to the top, using every coping mechanism one can to survive. Enter Coffee.

Here are 5 reasons why good coffee is essential for career survival and ultimately, good business!

1. It’s social

My first job actually wasn’t that bad. I started as junior advertising executive working at a cool little media firm back in 2005, where my boss absolutely loved coffee. So he personally made a pot of freshly ground filter coffee and he served it in the foyer to the first employees that arrived at work. Our official hours were from 8.30am, but he arrived at 7.30am to make and serve the coffee himself, and very soon, there was a cool little pre-work buzz from 8am-8.30 where people from all levels in the company could hang out, chat over a cup, get the day humming and by 8.30, everyone was there, the day always started with a bang after that!

2. Coffee is a great leveller and helps with problem solving.
One of the great things about coffee is not just the coffee itself. It’s getting up from your desk, while figuring out how to bring back the stranded astronauts from space, and walking over to the coffee machine…sharing the problem with the guy from accounts (who is a part time astro-physicist) and the guy from R&D who has secretly been testing some thermal radiation suits – and BAM! Because of coffee – the astronauts are safe again.

3. Coffee makes you more productive.

Ah, this is the best one. In fact when you go to your boss, start with this. Coffee is like legal cocaine. It blocks the receptors in your brain that trigger you feel tired, with those receptors blocked, the brain's own stimulants, dopamine and glutamate, can do their work more freely. In the book Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine, by Stephen R. Braun, he ultimately likens caffeine's powers to "putting a block of wood under one of the brain's primary brake pedals", which is all a fancy way of saying: YOU FEEL INVINCIBLE! And that’s always good for business.

4. Investing in good coffee shows your company values you!

Just look at Google. Those guys have it down. Their work knows that a space that makes their employees happy equals happy employees. And employees with good coffee are happy employees. You don’t need the reptile petting zoo, or the rock climbing wall or the Zorbing room as much as good coffee. Ok, maybe the Zorbing room. But first, good coffee.

5. The Company with the best Coffee gets the Clients.
You know what they say in business school about the 80Twenty principle…80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. If Clients like coming to your office, because coffee, then you get more facetime than the competition, and you pick up all the inside info on the next big deal, the work in the pipeline, the jobs on the table, the Gooses next big fat egg. Give them a reason to visit, and often. Blow their socks off with hospitality that makes them drop in, even when they don’t need to, just because they want a great cup of the good stuff.

You’re Welcome. Now go out there and change the world.

These are the kinds of coffee solutions we recommend depending on where you work:

You work at the Playboy Mansion of businesses – Using the above fail-proof logic, convince your Boss to invest in a beautiful coffee machine, with some skillful baristas and a supply of artisanally roasted beans from the neighbourhood roastery. Then offer to project manage the installation and contact your local roastery for the hook-up.

You work at the Hip Start Up but you’re small and growing
– catch your boss on a good day, like after his skydiving or shark-cage diving day and pitch him on the fool-proof, super-duper, fully-automatic coffee solution, where one touch of a button brings, rainbows, unicorns and unlimited employee loyalty. Again, offer to take point on the project and take all the credit for being the rockstar who saved the company from bad coffee.

You work in the following: A Van, A cubicle the size of a hamster cage, or a public Office OR… your boss is a bit of a doos. Either way. You’re not gonna get any help on this from the powers that be, so you need to take matters into your own hands. Solution: If you need espresso, then a Handpresso or Minipreso and a good automatic milk frother, like the Severin one. If you’re into delicious black coffee, then a handgrinder and any of the manual brewing methods. You could even one-up the company and use their own kettle as a f*ck-you, while you sit on the fire escape and enjoy speciality grade coffee while your boss sucks the dregs of his murky Ricoffy.

Keep everyone in your office that special stock-photography kind of happy by making the coffee amazing.

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The Minipresso: A coffee gadget worth keeping in your backpack

Thursday, 17 August, 2017
There's nothing quite like a good coffee after a morning surf. Depending on where you are on the coast, or how much time you have before work, sometimes you just can't get to your favourite local cafe for that fix. Well say hello to our little friend, the Minipresso GR.

The design is really nifty and after a few test shots in the office before taking it into the wild, the functionality was easy to figure out. Like putting together an espresso puzzle, so fun! It comes with a super helpful manual (yes, you may need to read the manual on this one!), but once you've done it a couple times it feels completely natural. 

We literally made it out the boot of the car. While still in wetsuits. No electricity, filter papers or even cup required (a cup is part of the design). This hand held coffee maker is really thoughtfully made. It takes about 6 or 7 pumps before the pressure has built up enough to produce liquid, so don't stress after the first few. Your pumping hand may need to build up some stamina, the two hand method works best for me, but that's about the only effort necessary.

The grind size that worked best for us is pretty fine, as you would grind for an espresso machine, but it's not necessary to compact the grinds, just a gentle tap with the back of the scoop. We used our travel hand-grinder for the freshest possible coffee and with the Costa Rican light roasted coffee we had, the Minipresso GR gave us a really impressive result, highlighting the sweetness in the coffee. It's not espresso in the traditional sense, it lacks that balance of depth and bitterness, but this is by no means a negative, it was delicious!

I am a creature of strange habits and my coffee rituals are pretty difficult to break, but I think that this little pocket rocket could make the grade for coffee on the road whether after a surf or pretty much anywhere, it's both effective and a lot of fun!

Prep: Boil your kettle and full up your flask before you leave home. Simple.

You can order your own here for only R1250
The pieces fit together like a very satisfying puzzle in which the result is great coffee!

We like that it was designed to stand with stability whichever way around you place it, top or bottom. While pouring the hot water into one compartment, the Minipresso can stand, not in danger of toppling over.
It is well made and feels sturdy and durable. There are no flimsy pieces or difficulty in screwing any of the pieces together.

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New series - Tiny Cafes: Love Coffee

Thursday, 17 August, 2017
New series: Tiny Cafes

In the tradition of the Italian espresso bar, we've been thrilled to discover a number of cafes popping up across the country that are embracing minimalism and focusing on damn fine coffee and smart design for small spaces. 
The first of these: Love Coffee 

Hello Love Coffee, aren't you a gorgeous hole in the wall? Jeannie McCall has opened her second location on Florida Road in Durban.

We were lucky enough to bump into Jeannie at this lovely spot, when we popped in for a cortado. She enlightened us on the growing community on Florida Road. This tiny cafe forms part of the ever expanding Urban Lime developing dynasty in Durban; the cafe is a huge value-add for the offices in the Hacienda building, just one of properties getting a facelift by this company. We're excited for the future of the road, things are looking up!

The coffee currently in the hopper is a blend of Ugandan and Tanzanian beans roasted by the super passionate Mike Goddard of Steampunk Coffee. It was extracted by the equally passionate Amy on the Brasilia lever machine that really is the stylish heartbeat of this beautifully designed space. Jeannie commissioned a couple of her talented friends to make magic with the space and they played out their boots to create the perfect look and feel. We had some extremely satisfying vegetarian treats to compliment our coffee. Overall, a fantastic experience.

Jeannie has some big (but still tiny) plans. She's got an old-school caravan on the way up from Cape Town that she will transform into a tiny cafe for travelling! We love it!

Just one more look at that espresso machine, though!

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Register now for Selati's Cafe of the Month

Thursday, 17 August, 2017

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Interview: Earthen Coffee Roastery

Friday, 11 August, 2017
We are constantly being alerted to 

How did you get into the baking and coffee business? Tell us a little bit about your journey.

For us processing and making coffee is not a job, it is a way of living,of doing what we really love. We always had a passion for coffee.The tipping point came in 2012 around a camp fire, when hand roasted coffee was offered to us from a pan.Bitter ,strong ,a bit rough but full of freshness and flavor. This cup inspired us to learn more about coffee and become involved in the alchemy behind the bean.The desire to learn more and more has continued.
As for breakfast there is no way better than starting the day with in-house baked naturally leavened sourdough bread on a “Horizon" breakfast with 2 poached eggs.

What roaster do you have?
Has Garanti drum roaster- Our beloved " ROOSTER"

What is your favourite coffee at the moment?

There is no favourite. It is about how we feel at the moment. Each coffee is unique in its experience and extraction. The “Earthen" houseblend with its velvet mouthfeel,complex, earthy, rich with smooth chocolate expression is remarkable. We love the Sipi RFA Uganda con panna.
Each day we awakened to a new flavour - a never ending taste exploration inspired and passionate about what we do.

What have you learned about people’s coffee drinking habits through running this business?

People have a desire to learn.Their natural habit without tasting is to initially use sugar.When they taste good coffee they are surprised by its natural sweetness.

What has been your biggest challenge?
To teach people how to prepare coffee correctly. Using traditional values with modern technology continually learning about each coffee beans character and do each bean the true justice that it deserves. Not to get totally consumed in the journey and maintain balance.

Give us 5 adjectives that perfectly describe Earthen.

a lifestyle

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Review: What I Know About Running Coffee Shops

Thursday, 10 August, 2017
I have had the distinct privilege of visiting 3fe in Dublin, Ireland and meeting the lovely Colin Harmon. You would be hard pressed to find a more humble success story than this Irish gentleman. So it follows then that the book is written in the same manner: humble, self-deprecating and caring.

What I Know About Running Coffee Shops (WIKARCS)

I am a very tactile person and so when the box arrived and I ripped off the plastic of our copy, I was immediately in love with the cover. As Iain said, "It feels like a book that my grandmother would have on her shelf." It is hard cover and textured and 3FE red and I just love running my fingers over it. It has that nostalgic feel of reading an old classic curled up on the couch.

But enough about the aesthetics, what of the content?

This is not a complicated book. It is a book of personal experience and it is told with no airs and graces.
I love that.

In his introduction, this line stood out to me about the pull of owning a cafe:
"Many of these people I've met have never run a business before and have no experience in cafes, but have become determined to leave their existing careers behind and open their own coffee business. It's very difficult to be successful in the hospitality industry - and doing it without any experience is next to impossible - but there's something about coffee that draws people in."

We come across people on a daily basis who think it will be easy to pull off such a task. I urge all of them to read this book first. At the end of the day, a coffee business is a hospitality business and so many people forget that. You don't have a business without keeping your customers (and staff) happy, no matter how good your coffee is. If you've ever been in the service industry you will immediately relate to some of the struggles that Colin has faced in the process of building 3FE.

The book is very thoughtfully structured offering practical tips and drawings for beginners and only very briefly touches on the coffee itself through the lens of improving service rather than how you should brew your coffee.

And really it's the little things in WIKARCS, like how the amount of sunlight you can get in your shop should be important to you when choosing a location, because sunlight effects people's mental health, and the struggle of maintaining a clean toilet, that just really can't be learned through any other means than trial and error and some hard graft.

An insightful study into how people use the cafe space that all who read it will benefit from, whether you're a customer, a cafe owner or a person with a coffee dream.

Highly, highly recommended. 

We brought 40 copies into SA, all of which have sold. If you comment below to say you would like a copy, perhaps we can bring in another shipment.

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BeSpoke brew: Coffee and mountain-biking

Friday, 11 August, 2017

Words: Jazz Kuschke
Photos: Kolesky/Nikon/Lexar

Originally published in Issue 15 of The Coffee Magazine

The ‘coffee ride’ is more than a mountain-biking tradition. It is key part of the culture of what is a lifestyle rather than a sport, really. “The intricate relationship coffee has with cycling,” explains James Reid, who wears the stripes of South African titles in both cross-country and marathon disciplines, “is deeply rooted in the ability of caffeine to improve your energy levels and mental alertness before and during a ride.”

Cyclists are a technical, particular bunch. And they’re as picky about their coffee as they are about their photochromic eyewear, sock length or the pressure to which their tyres are pumped. Not many a ride is started without – at the very least – a single shot of freshly brewed espresso. Few are finished without a café stop. (Standing their carbon steed at just the right angle to show its best features at the curb-side table is all important, of course). Hard to believe then that caffeine (otherwise known as: 3G6A5W338E) was on the Olympic banned substance list less than 30 years ago. A recent study suggests up to three quarters of the world’s elite athletes use it for its benefits. Many go as far as to travel with their own coffee machines. However, to assume its ergogenic properties (enhances speed and stamina) is the sole reason for the love affair, would be to misunderstand the relationship.

“It becomes a destination thing,” muses Reid. “When you live in a beautiful place like Stellenbosch or Cape Town, it represents the break between monotony and a ‘pick-me-up’ that inevitably becomes habitual,” he says, highlighting how many mountain-biking destinations and trail parks now have ‘home’ coffee shops, places such as The Dairy Shed at Contermanskloof (pictured above).

To keep the wheels rolling
“We've got some pretty good evidence that caffeine can improve endurance performance by reducing fatigue and your perception of effort,” explains Adrian Penzhorn, head (registered) dietician and sport scientist at Food For Sport (www.foodforsport.co.za). “Simply put, it makes exercise feel easier to do,” he says. “It may also have a small benefit on how your body uses fat as a fuel during exercise. Most studies use caffeine in pill or powder form but a recent study suggested that coffee can be just as good,” he says.

According to Penzhorn, caffeine content varies significantly depending on the type of bean, the roast and the method of brewing, however. “An average espresso provides about 100mg of caffeine, most studies use 200-300mg to show a benefit. So a single shot from your local barrister is halfway there,” he says.

To maximise this benefit and to give his body a chance to recover from the stimulation caffeine provides, Reid likes to stay away from coffee completely during his off-season. Tough, he admits, fortunately a pro bike rider has a very short ‘off’ season. “During a normal training week, I start the morning with a short black with a splash of milk,” he says. “Only if I’m doing a longer day (three hours plus) then I’ll have a coffee mid ride. You also don’t want to have too much caffeine during the morning and not be able to sleep after lunch (a crucial part of the pro cyclist’s training regime), so it's a fine balance.”

For Matthys Beukes, who, with teammate Gert Heyns, dominated the 2015 Cape Pioneer Trek, a brutal six-day stage race, coffee is more of a daily must-have. Even in the off season.

For the love
“Coffee choice depends largely on the weather for me,” says the man from George. “I enjoy a nice cappuccino after training on a cold and rainy day. If it’s a bit warmer I’ll go Americano and, most of the time, mid-ride there’s nothing that an espresso can’t cure,” Beukes says.

So important is coffee to his daily routine that he doesn’t go to sleep at night before making sure he has enough stock for the following day. “Nothing worse than waking up and realising I’ve got only enough beans for a single shot!” he says.

“Upon visiting Italy earlier this year I realised that the coffee ride we all took to here has been part of their culture for almost as long as they’ve been riding bikes,” he says, before summing up perhaps the crux of why it is so cool. “The coffee ride almost levels the playing field in a way… It is something every bike rider can do and look good doing it.”

Fast Facts

Adrian Penzhorn, registered dietician and sport scientist from Food For Sport (www.foodforsport.co.za) delivers (some surprising) insights on caffeine as sports supplement:
- Caffeine can improve endurance performance by 3-4% and work rate by 7-10% at moderate doses. 
- Most research uses 300-400 mg to show performance benefits. 
- There are no benefits at higher doses and some people may experience unwanted side-effects. 
- Caffeine does not negatively effect hydration status.
- In combination with a high carbohydrate recovery meal caffeine may assist restoring muscle glycogen (carbohydrate stores). 
- Caffeine content of brewed coffee can vary from 15-240 mg per serving. 
- Robusta beans have the highest caffeine content. 
- The darker the roast the lower the caffeine content. 
- The fresher the grind the higher the caffeine content. 
- And the longer the brew the higher the caffeine content of the drink i.e. Immersion brews like a plunger (4-5min contact time) will have more caffeine than an espresso (Under 30 seconds contact time)

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Cafe of the Week: Flava Club

Tuesday, 1 August, 2017
Heading against the crush of early morning traffic to get into town we drove into KwaMashu, just north of Durban looking for a colourful landmark:

And were greeted by this face:

Hello Jabu! And hello Flava Club Coffee!

We were served excellent cortados (beans roasted by Lineage Coffee) while we chatted to Jabu and Brett about their involvement in our upcoming Barista Education Scholarships. The regular customers popped past to get their daily fix. The vibe is relaxed. There is a lot of hope around this development, Big Box Co., very reasonable rental for local entrepreneurs to start up their dream businesses! Flava Club keeps things simple and does it really well. We wish them all the best as they continue to grow the coffee drinking community.

We can't wait to go back!

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