Wellness: Exploring Caffeine intake during Pregnancy

Wednesday, 17 March, 2021

Look Team, we are ALL about the coffee, but the reality is that in some circumstances, for example when you're pregnant, you need to limit the amount of coffee/caffeine you take in. By no means, are we saying you can't have any coffee, but you do need to have a plan to substitute for the beverages that you would usually have. The article below outlines just how you can do that and still have delicious hot drinks to comfort you along the way!

Most of us have heard that caffeine intake during pregnancy is a big no-no but have no idea how to replace our daily “cuppa jo” in a way that is both satisfying for mom and safe for baby.

Firstly, let’s look at what the science says:

Caffeine during pregnancy is not completely unsafe. In fact, pregnant women can consume up to 200mg of caffeine per day without any negative outcomes. This is equivalent to about 2 cups of instant coffee. In comparison, non-pregnant adults can safely consume up to 400mg of caffeine per day. Going over these caffeine limits during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage and low birth weight babies.

When looking at caffeine intake during pregnancy, it’s important to bear in mind that coffee is not the only contributor to caffeine intake. Products like black tea, green tea, chocolate/cacao, energy drinks and coca cola also contain caffeine. If one were to consume these products, caffeine intake could quickly add up to more than 200mg/day. A safe estimate is to limit caffeinated products to 2 servings per day (with each serving having a maximum of 100mg of caffeine).

Other reasons to reduce coffee/caffeine intake during pregnancy:

  • Caffeine is known as a gastric irritant and so it can cause stomach upset, bloating and cramps, especially in people with sensitive stomachs. If caffeine affects your stomach, it might be a good idea to cut down.
  • For women suffering from morning sickness, caffeine intake may worsen nausea. Many pregnant women also experience strong aversions to coffee, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy.
  • Caffeine is a stimulant so it can elevate your heart rate and blood pressure slightly. If you are very caffeine sensitive, or if you are struggling with heart racing, anxiety or breathlessness during pregnancy (these are common pregnancy symptoms), caffeine intake can worsen these symptoms. It is also recommended to cut down on caffeine if you have high blood pressure.
  • Coffee and regular tea is high in tannins which are colour pigments that interfere with iron absorption. Iron needs are particularly high during pregnancy and getting enough iron in is of utmost importance. If you are a regular coffee drinker and happen to drink coffee close to meal times or close to taking your prenatal vitamins, you might not be absorbing your iron very well and may be at higher risk of iron deficiency.

What can you have instead?

For most of us, our morning cup of tea or coffee is a ritual that is hard to give up. Most pregnant women end up simply replacing their coffee with a herbal tea or forgoing a hot beverage altogether. Both of these options are far less satisfying than a good cup of coffee.

Another option is to try a café-style beverage which gives all of the satisfaction and ritual of coffee but without the negative side-effects. The red espresso® range of products are made from Rooibos and are naturally caffeine-free so they don’t have any of the negative effects of coffee and as a bonus, they boast an amazing antioxidant content which is particularly important during pregnancy as pregnancy increases oxidative stress in the body.

red espresso® Rooibos contains 4 x more polyphenol antioxidants and has 10 times the ORAC value (free radical fighting abilities) compared to Rooibos tea. Drinking Rooibos tea in the traditional way filters out the leaves and therefore only small amounts of antioxidants actually enter the hot water. The red espresso® Ground Rooibos is made from 100% Rooibos tea leaves which allows you to really get all of the health benefits of this amazing tea by consuming the whole leaves in powdered form.

red espresso® also offer a range of unique caffeine-free café-style beverages to help you to replace some of the coffee in your diet: The Superfood Latte Mixes make use of a range of delicious antioxidant-rich superfoods such as BeetrootTurmeric and Rooibos.

Thanks to red espresso®, it is now possible to cut down on your caffeine intake during pregnancy whilst still maintaining all of the ritual and pleasure of your coffee-drinking habits and getting a great antioxidant boost at the same time.

The incredible health benefits of our special rooibos

Disclaimer: The information on this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

Written by Jessica Kotlowitz, Registered Dietitian as a paid partnership with red espresso® 

Buy red espresso® now

Jessica Kotlowitz is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters degree in Nutrition (Stell. University). Jessica has a private practice in Cape Town which focuses on plant-based nutrition.
Facebook: The Green Dietitian
Instagram: @the_green_dietitian

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New Kid on the Block: The Breakfast Room

Friday, 16 April, 2021

The Breakfast Room is a place of calm, happiness and delicious Kenyan coffee, against all the odds on the Durban Point construction site.

You know, in my experiences of the hospitality world, in which I have spent much time, the attitude of the team is integral to my overall impression of the place. And at The Breakfast Room, the positivity positively smacks you in the face when you walk in the door. Honestly, I couldn't stop smiling the whole time I was there. 

And when I had the opportunity to chat with owner, Wanjiru Kinyua, it all made sense.

"The main goal here was to create a place where people feel looked after, something that I feel is largely missing from the hospitality industry these days, and the industry needs to get back to doing that. I feel the only way we can make that change is by first making sure that the Team is looked after, as you can only look after people if you feel looked after yourself."

Ah man! That resonates with me so much. And The Breakfast Room team must be well looked after as they sure know how to look after their customers.

We were eager beavers, there as the doors opened at 8 and we were made to feel right at home. The corner shop was once known to Durbanites as the location of Ciao Bella, but Wanjiru has certainly made the space her own with a beautiful mural and her infectious personality.

"There's something about a corner building! I had a long term plan to open a restaurant having studied at Silwood in Cape Town, but I was down here with a friend for a market and when I saw this building, I felt a real connection to the space and I just decided to throw myself off the cliff, pandemic and all!"

Well, we are so happy she did!

The coffee is from a farm in Kenya, Karunguru Coffee, that belongs to her family friends and that has been producing coffee for close to 100 years! The espresso was sweet and smooth and the flat white was very tasty indeed. Sthabile was our delightful waitress and was very patient with us as we took our time deciding what to order from the mouth-watering All-Day Breakfast menu.

Everything was delicious and we highly recommend you visit and support this team! 

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Roaster Focus: The packaging your coffee comes in, is a specialised product!

Thursday, 15 April, 2021

In Neil Maree’s monthly column, he explores the importance and detail of the packaging your freshly roasted coffee beans come in.

Specialty coffee packaging: more than meets the eye

Don’t you just love opening a new pack of speciality coffee? 

It almost becomes a ritual, a crucial part of your coffee drinking experience. 

The way the packaging feels; the sneak whiff through the valve (we all do it); the specific way you have to open the pack; and then, of course the explosive aroma that fills the room…bliss!

While coffee packaging was once viewed as mainly useful to store and transport a product, packaging design has developed into an important marketing tool. It is often the first contact a customer will have with your brand. It carries your brand identity and emotionally connects with consumers.

If you are a roaster, I suggest you take a closer look at your own packaging and make sure it ticks all the boxes when it comes to the holistic customer experience.

Deconstructing specialty coffee packaging

Speciality coffee packaging has a dual value. On the one hand, it preserves the freshness of your coffee and on the other it has the potential to tell your brand-story in the most appealing way: through the use of shape and material, fonts, images, colour combinations, textures and patterns.

Package design and its sensory aspects impact the customer journey at different stages. For the purpose of this discussion, I will look at speciality coffee packaging from a sensory experience (outer and inner layers) and from a functional dimension (freshness and quality mechanisms).

Sensory Experience

It is said that customers buy packaging based on their first impression of the bag.

Use your packaging to tell your brand story, because people identify with stories. Share yours on your pack and it will be read. Be descriptive. People enjoy information when they are really interested in their subject; as speciality coffee drinkers are. Tell your customer about your brand values, your contribution to transparency and sustainability in the coffee industry. Also use the opportunity to explain flavours and roast profiles. Coffee packaging has an informative, and often an educational role to fulfil.

Try and be original in your design and capture the spirit of our brand. Pay attention to colour as people are psychologically drawn to colour. Colour plays a major role in the success of any marketing campaign. Colours tend to stir certain emotions, creating brand relevance and motivating purchases: red is the colour of power and gets people’s attention and holds it, and green is associated with health, environment and goodwill.

The finishing of your packaging material can add to your customers’ tactile experience of your brand, be it a matte or gloss, or textured and rustic. Keep in mind that finishes such as foil and spot-varnished elements can be very interesting but should be in line with your brand and the message you want to communicate. 

With the aim to engage and tell their brand story, speciality coffee roasters often use a five-sided flat bottom pouch which will give them more space. Printing on the interior of the coffee pouch is another way to optimise space. Coffee packaging can therefore be totally customised to attract customers. The challenge is to create visual aesthetics that will translate into perceptions of flavour at an almost subconscious level.

Custom printed packaging has become popular all over the world, and this does not only refer to the exterior of the packaging. The customer experience lingers on throughout the after-purchase stage which can greatly influence the customer’s likelihood to re-purchase or recommend your coffee to others. The customer journey should be considered and maximised. Interior packaging design is an innovative way to extend the brand message and convey the desired perception of the taste of your coffee. Opening a coffee bag is an explosive multisensory experience that can now be amplified even further by your customised interior design.

Own your unique style

Packaging allows you to distinguish yourself from your competitors. Your uniqueness can set you apart from the rest as packaging possibilities are endless. Consider your own distinctive measurements of a shaped pouch, a zipper and valve integrated in your pack, an attractive design, different varnishes, and different colours from neon to metallic. Finally, a label on your pack can communicate different origins and batches, giving you all-year-round flexibility. Be sure that you understand your customer when you design the look and feel of your brand - this includes colours, font styles and sizes. Remember, there is no right type of packaging. Your packaging will be determined by your customer preference, the nature and size of your business, and how your coffee bags are filled. There are various coffee packaging experts that will be able to guide you along.

The ultimate aim for roasters is to set their products apart. A visually appealing package can go a long way in creating positive perceptions about the characteristics of the coffee you are representing.

Functional dimension

The best coffee packaging cannot only be visually appealing, but it also has to be functional. The number one requirement for any coffee packaging is that it should protect your coffee from the moment it leaves your roastery or warehouse.

As consumers are increasingly becoming more discerning coffee drinkers, there has been a growing need to provide fresher, higher quality roasted coffee beans.

The most important aspect of speciality coffee is its aroma and taste, which can be impacted by the packaging. Should the coffee be contaminated by foreign odours, the aroma and taste will be compromised, making it not desirable to drink. It is therefore crucial to choose an effective and high barrier coffee bag to maintain the freshness, flavour and aroma for a longer period of time.

Various types of coffee packaging are manufactured and supplied to specialty coffee roasters. Coffee packaging offers different functional features, including metallic layers, re-sealable zippers, clear oval windows, and one-way degassing valves. 

Packaging should protect your coffee and keep out odours

Once your beans have been roasted, they undergo chemical and physical changes that must be taken into account when packaging them. The pore structure of coffee beans is affected by roasting conditions. The bean becomes more porous, the higher the roasting temperature. It then becomes more susceptible to absorbing moisture and unpleasant odours. To prevent this, your packaging should include a barrier that keeps out moisture, odours, direct sunlight, and oxygen, while enabling carbon dioxide (CO2) to escape. While the material you use for the outer layer of your coffee packaging is often determined by your marketing needs, it is the inner layer that needs special attention as it comes into direct contact with the roasted beans.

Barrier properties and the filling process

It is very important that coffee beans stay fresh for as long as possible, and this means that the packaging has to be airtight. 

Packaging needs a barrier as coffee is very sensitive to external factors that can affect the profile, through moist and other bacteria. These barriers can range from metalised or pure aluminium to high-barrier polyester. Specialised advice to protect the roasted coffee beans can be provided by packaging manufacturers.

To ensure freshness and for coffee not to become stale faster than it needs to when on its way to your customer or sitting in their coffee shop, one can add a nitrogen flush vacuum sealer to the filling process. This vacuum sealer uses nitrogen gas to replace the oxygen in the bag and then creates a vacuum before sealing your bag of coffee. The absence of oxygen within the packaging helps to extend your coffee’s shelf life as long as the bag remains unopened. 

Degassing valve

One of the most important chemical changes in the roasting process is the breakdown of sugars to form various compounds, including carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide, trapped inside the coffee beans, gradually leaks out after roasting, through a process called degassing. 

Sealed coffee bags without a valve usually inflate and can even explode. The function of a degassing valve is to allow the carbon dioxide, released by roasted coffee beans, to escape from the sealed bag. It is designed to be a one-way value. Carbon dioxide will flow out of the bag, but oxygen will not flow into the bag. This mechanism will only work when the bag is thoroughly sealed.

It is of utmost importance that the one-way degassing valve releases carbon dioxide from the coffee bag but do not allow outside moisture or air to penetrate the bag. 


The convenience of your coffee bag can be enhanced with zippers or other easy open mechanisms.

A re-closing feature such as a zipper will make a big difference in the lives of consumers who use and store their coffee beans in the original package – also more opportunity for them to enjoy and appreciated the design of the interior of your coffee package!

Trends that can influence specialty coffee packaging

Sustainable packaging has become very important. These forms of packaging are recyclable and biodegradable. Eco-friendly packaging is normally communicated on the pack, giving a guide on how it should be recycled and the benefits thereof to nature.

If there is one thing millennials around the world have in common, it is a taste for coffee. It is a generation worth taking note of as they make up a large percentage of the world’s coffee drinkers. Looking after our planet is important to them. They demand transparency and good ethics and this is something you should consider throughout the customer journey.

The subscription model is booming and various coffee brands are complimenting their business with a monthly subscription from their customers. Receiving a crafted subscription box will gain massive appeal for your brand. More so now that people are home-bound as a result of the pandemic and have become more comfortable with virtual shopping. You will however, have to do proper research into your potential market, to determine whether there is a gap in the market, and indeed a market in the gap – but surely, it can be very exciting.

Your packaging supplier is there to support you through conceptualising, designing, manufacturing, printing, and delivery your packaging material. This can be a very rewarding relationship as they should keep you abreast of new developments in the packaging industry. It is important to choose an experienced packaging partner you feel comfortable with and whom you can trust with your brand for consistent and superior-quality packaging.

The Specialty Coffee Association, in 2016, launched  the annual  Coffee Design Awards to honour and showcase the great packaging designs in the speciality coffee industry around the globe. This is a great platform to find new inspiration and keep up with the latest trends and technologies. Onyx Coffee, pictured below, won the 2021 Award for Packaging.

In closing, there are many aspects to consider when it comes to specialty coffee packaging: both in terms of aesthetics and functionality. If you can explore these, you have made good progress in setting up a successful specialty coffee brand. 

All of the best in coffee.


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Want to braai this weekend? Try these SA made firelighters made from coffee! (And win a box for yourself!)

Friday, 16 April, 2021

Way back in 2018, we introduced you to Kai and Mariska of Firefly biofuel - the firelighters made locally from used coffee grounds. (Read that article here! ) and for this issue of the Coffee Magazine (the new Autumn issue #35 - out now!) they have very generously supplied us with a whole box of the new Firespark JNR firelighters for you, our readers!

So what's the first thing we did? Well, we had a braai of course! 

This is our honest review of the new JNR firespark, along with some new insights from Mariska and Kai about how to use them, why they are different from the original and how best to braai!  Then, we have a competition for you all  - it's at the bottom - no skipping ahead now!

Here we go - It's braaitime!

The first thing I noticed is how different they are to regular paraffin based firelighters. They are round, thin, have a hole in the middle and have wicks, like candles do... and they burn much like candles do, melting the firespark material that then burns like a candle. 

A unique shape for a unique braaiing experience.

It was a bit of a windy day, so I battled to get them going at first, but once they took...shew!! They burned hot and long!  I also didn't know how many to use, so I used two. I also didn't know if I should stand them up or lie them down...who knew there were so many variables!

Look at her burn!

Anyway, after I had had a very enjoyable braai, I was curious and had so many questions for the Team! So I mailed Mariska back with my experience and this is what she had to say...

The Firefly Biofuel was a pleasure to use… tell us again the story behind this product?

Really simple to be honest.  When a friend of ours, that owns a furniture company, complained about the sawdust waste that she had to pay someone to remove from their workshop, Kai offered to build them a basic press to make some firewood for their fireplace.  Suffice to say she said she didn’t have time for that and Kai can have at it. 

He started playing with the idea of making home made firelighters for us as well at the same time.  As it happened he spent 18 months changing out ingredients to meet my absolute high standards when it comes to being “safe around food”, “safe around the kids and pets” and of course, no tolerance for the petroleum stink and black smoke it makes when lighting. 

He incredibly started experimenting with coffee waste from the house as it not just eliminates odours, but he found it to be an incredible high heat burning fuel along with the fact that burning coffee is a natural insect repellant.  Many shapes later and the FireSpark original was born. 

The FireSpark original was a bit too much we found (minimum of 20 minute burn and boil 600 mil of water over a firelighter itself) so we started with the FireSpark Jnr.  

It must be a trade secret, but what else is in the Firefly FireSpark other than coffee?

No secrets! The FireSpark Jnr consists of used coffee, virgin sawdust, sugar and a vegetable based wax.  The vegetable wax we use is of food grade and therefore does not contain ANY petroleum.  Not a lot of people know this but even standard candle wax contains petroleum.

Where do you get your coffee grounds from?

We collect if from local coffee shops.  :-)

It burns like a candle initially, tell us about the science behind it!

Very true.  Due to the lack of petroleum to the product it does not flare up and burn out quick like petroleum firelighters.  But we opted for the slow start…one helluva finish.  Coffee burns 100 degrees hotter than petroleum which in effect makes it a hotter firelighter.  Petroleum does have the quick light but if you give the FireSpark Jnr a chance to get to temperature it has a longer, cleaner and hotter burn.  The FireSpark Jnr does have a bit of an educational aspect to it for sure and packing your fire fuel (wood / charcoal) in such a way that creates an oven effect for the FireSpark Jnr you will find that not only does it light faster with the radiated heat but protects it from wind as well for the humble beginning of its start up.

The hole in the middle also plays a significant role into creating a concentrated flame “like a Swedish rocket fire”  This concentrated flame has a greater success in the burning process than petroleum fire that “is all over the place”

You will find that people most of the time use half or up to a whole box of petroleum firelighters to get their fires started.

How many should a person use for an ordinary braai. I used two, but does it depend on how big your fire is going to be or how much of a rush you’re in to get the braai going?

We always recommend first time users to use 2 FireSpark Jnr’s.  We do find however that people start to get to know the product and realise that 1 is enough.  We also love how our clients sends us images of “their” way they use the FireSpark Jnr.  It really is up to the users that they find the “Best way for them” to use.

For us personally, 1 is enough for dry wood, and Kai would through in 2 or 3 if the wood is really wet.  But other than that it’s also just on how you pack your wood and the ambient temperature.  In hotter days….again the burn startup is quick and in colder days, well, the wax coating around the FireSpark Jnr that’s that second or two longer to melt.

The whole idea of the wicks are to assist you in lighting the FireSpark Jnr.

The fire spark was a bit tricky to get going in windy conditions, but the upside is there’s no paraffin like other brands…which must be a good thing? 

Yes you are completely right.  The FireSpark Jnr does take longer to light but with this one “negative” side of it, the positives that you get over the petroleum firelighters far outweigh this one point. :-)

Give us your tips on how to get the best…do you lie them up, like a wheel, or on their side like a disc?

 This is so tricky!  We add a business card on how to light the FireSpark Jnr in the box itself for first time users, but as mentioned…there are a million different ways our clients all believe they have found the best way.  We love it and fully encourage first  time users to give it just that little bit of patience the first couple of times and they will find that not only are they far better than petroleum firelighters, but better on their budgets also.  Instead of buying 10 to 12 boxes of R10 firelighters a month, now they only have to buy 1 box of FireSpark Jnr’s.

Win a box of Firespark JNR firelighters from Firefly Biofuel.

To win a box of Firespark JNR, all you need to do is send us a photo of the Firespark BioFuel advert in the new issue of the Coffee Magazine!  Whatsapp your photo and your name to Iain on 082 397 2792! 

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For Sale: JOPER BPR15 Roaster - Asking price R600 000.

Friday, 16 April, 2021

FOR SALE: JOPER BPR15 including an Afterburner & De-stoner.
Asking Price: R600,000

Are you looking to start or expand your coffee roastery?

• Advanced European coffee roasting equipment for sale, which
includes all you would need to set up a new coffee roastery or
expand an existing roastery;
• Joper 15kg roaster
• Afterburner
• Destoner
• The roaster complies with strict European emissions standards by burning off emissions in the afterburner
• The roasting process is managed using Brigus roast control software
• The roaster is available immediately to ship to anywhere in SA.


Joper is a Portuguese company with over 60 years experience and are very proud of their family tradition of 3 generations united to manufacture high quality coffee roasters and related equipment. Joper uphold the principle of old school cast iron with advanced technology.


Joper BPR15 coffee roaster 2014 - 15kg coffee roaster, with Brigus roast software

Afterburner QFR15 - Afterburner, burns off roaster emissions to EU standards

Joper Destoner DM15 - Destoner to remove stones and other foreign matter from the roasted coffee beans

The roasting equipment has been maintained in compliance with the manufacturer’s specifications. The new imported cost of this equipment is approximately R1.25m


• JOPER Roasters are made with High-Quality CAST IRON components and
hand craft individually for best roast quality, control and consistency.
• Roasting drum with double wall and special mixing paddles to ensure
optimal movement and mixing for excellent roasting results
• Great roasting consistency, which allows high uniformity in the grain
• Roasting profile software BRIGUS
• The flow of hot air, that allows the beans to be roasted via convection is
controlled and adjusted by manual damper or automatically with the
roasting profile software BRIGUS
• Simultaneous roasting and cooling using separate suction of the cooling
and roasting fans
• Adjustable flame modulation of gas burner 10-100% controlled
automatically with our roasting profile software BRIGUS or manual
control via touch panel.

• Adjustable airflow controlled automatically with our roasting profile software
BRIGUS or manual control via touch panel.
• Drum bearings in cast iron housings remotely mounted away from the hot
roaster wall for extra-long life. All bearings and seals are SKF brand.
• Separate cyclone with high Efficiency of separation and easy emptying of the
bin for chaff.
• 4 separate Premium Efficiency IE3 motors. All direct drive for quietness and
low maintenance: Drum drive, cooling pan stir arms, roaster fan and cooler fan.
• Cooler with large surface, one discharge door, agitator with separate drive and
high-pressure fan to quickly cool the beans to the required temperature to lock
in the aroma.
• Easy operator control with sight glass to see how your beans are flowing inside
the drum.
• Sampler trier, temperature digital controller is provided to enable the roasting
process to be monitored all time.

• 2 thermocouples: Bean temperature and exhaust air temperature.
• Atmospheric gas burner with low emissions (Low NOx) with complete gas
train and all safety accessories.
• Fuel Type: Propane gas (LPG) or can be modified to natural gas (LNG).
• Fully insulated with high temperature insulation blanket making the roaster
very quiet and high energy efficient.
• Electric control board to check and control the roasting process, with
temperature digital displays, emergency button and all security components.
• Gas and electric safety device with standards rules.
• Pressure transducer to control the gas pressure in the PLC
• Hand crank for emptying the drum roaster in case of power outages.

• Designed and developed to allow for low maintenance.
• Side and rear doors to simplify access to the interior of the roaster, during
normal maintenance and cleaning of the various components.
• Service Hours counter included with maintenance warning system.
• Simplified installation and setup.
• Operating side standard: Left.
• JOPER roasters are built for long haul, one can run with them multiple shifts,
7 days a week
• Connect your computer directly to the roaster.


• The roaster is palletized and can be shipped to anywhere in South Africa or internationally
• The equipment is sold together as a lot
• Shipping terms are ex-works from storage in Johannesburg i.e. shipping & insurance costs are for buyers’ account
• 100% payment before shipment
• Equipment is sold as is


If you are interested in purchasing this roaster, please contact: iain@coffeemagazine.co.za

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What do Simba Chips and coffee have in common?

Thursday, 8 April, 2021

This rather large and strange box appeared in the Coffee Magazine offices last week….

Choose me or Lose me?

We were intrigued!  Obviously we chose to open it and in doing so we entered into a fun and wonderful experience all about flavour, through one of SA’s most iconic and most loved products - Simba Chips!

As coffee drinkers, baristas, roasters and green coffee hunters, we are obsessed with flavour. It is the essence of so many things related to coffee, to food, to our emotions, our childhood memories and ultimately to our decision making.  And as the TV campaigns from the 80’s drummed into us…”SIMBA Roaaaaars with Flavour!”

Why all this? Simba are on a massive national campaign to create more space in their product lineup, but this means eliminating a few of the old Simba Flavours. To our horror, Salt & vinegar , Tomato Sauce and Cheese & Onion are on the chopping block!  We’ll talk more about the marketing objectives later where you have to vote to save your favourite flavour, but the part we found really interesting from a coffee point of view, is how the team at Simba went about educating the many journalists about flavour.

Each of those little droppers had 1 of the 5 flavour components. It was fun to try and identify them!

First up was “Taste Basics” - this was a pretty cool way to introduce everyone to the 5 components of flavour and where you find them on your tongue:

Sour and

Did you know the 5 components of flavour?

We then moved onto the Jelly Bean test  - this was really interesting! Try and block your nose while you chew a jelly bean. Then unblock your nose! It’s a rush of flavour!! This differentiated how we experience flavour on our tongue and through our olfaction system. Anyone who has ever cupped coffee, or competed in a cup tasters event will testify how significant this is when slurping the coffee to spread it all across your tongue and right up the back of your throat, taking a deep breath to wash the flavour through your olfaction system. Try it. It’s amazing :)

Finally, we did a texture test. This was basic, but drove the point home. One bag of chips we had to spray water on and seal in a bag. Them after 20 minutes, we took a chip from an airtight bag and a soggy chip from the wet bag and compared them side by side. Yuck! Soggy chips and stale chips will ruin the entire experience, even though the flavour was identical!

The physiology of flavour!

So the next time you sip a cup of coffee at your local cafe, or in your home - think about the flavour. Use the 5 tools above to try and identify what you are experiencing. Next, take a sip and then a deep breath in. Finally, think about the body (texture) of your coffee - is it thick and luxurious, is it thin and weak?  Have fun talking to your roaster, your barista or your coffee friends about flavour and why  they love the coffee they choose.

Tomato Sauce!!!

P.S  Mel and I are both voting for Tomato Sauce, because, we agreed that it is one of those nostalgic flavours that takes us straight back to break-time at primary school! Who are you going to vote for?

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Issue 35: Coffee is a Lifestyle

Thursday, 8 April, 2021

Once you go down the path of flavour exploration, it's difficult not to let it spill over into the other parts of your life. And you know what? It is SO. MUCH. FUN. 

Coffee is a lifestyle and has made our appreciation of other delicious endeavours so much better, so in this Autumn Edition 2021 as the light changes and the temperature chills, we are celebrating Chocolate, Cuisine, Wine, Honey and of course, more Coffee.

So what's in this edition?

Travel: A World of Flavour

Do you miss travelling as much as we do? Food and coffee can take you where you wish to go! Kamini Pather takes us on a culinary journey and develops a recipe exclusively for us!

Roast: Melt in your Mouth

An education on some of the finer points of chocolate-making and starting a new brand by one the trailblazers of the coffee world, David Donde. Delve deeper with us into a world we very much take for granted, picking our favourites excitedly from the sweet aisle and never wondering how they got there.

Culture: Coffee vs Wine

How similar are these beverage cultures and what can they learn from each other?  Jono Le Feuvre explores the crossovers between these cherished liquids.

Brew: The Tale of Two Coffee Cities

Shinsaku ‘Samurai’ Fukuyama, a world-renowned latte artist and coffee professional earned his stripes in coffee capital, Melbourne and is pushing specialty coffee forward in Osaka. Try his Pourover Recipe!

Discover: The Sweet Life of Bees

Exploring the wonderful world of honey with local bee-keeper, Mokgadi Mabela, founder of Native Nosi. 

Human Interest: Empowering Women in Coffee 

Nicole Battefeld-Montgomery, German Barista Champion and World Coffee in Good Spirits Top 6 Finalist, explores how her gender has and continues to affect her journey and how we can all make choices to change the coffee landscape for the better.

Community: The State of the Coffee Nation

A year on, still in the grips of a global pandemic, we explore how coffee culture has adapted to survive.

Kick: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

We first came across the talented Glen Biderman-Pam when he released a certain parody about a certain eight-tentacled sea creature that premiered on Netflix during lockdown. He has turned his comedic gaze towards coffee and targeted some our favourite growing South African coffee brands. We chatted to Glen about a little of this, a little of that, mostly coffee, of course.

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Celebrating Rwanda: Explore the amazing people and coffee that have emerged since the devastation of genocide

Thursday, 8 April, 2021

Quality over Quantity: The Rise of Specialty Coffee in Rwanda

Since the tragedy of the genocide in 1994, Rwanda has slowly but surely established itself as one of the prominent players in Africa when it comes to specialty coffee. One of the local entrepreneurs who has been part of this journey from the beginning is Emmanuel Rusatira of Baho Coffee. He shared his insights into this growing power in the speciality coffee scene.

“Do you know what Baho means? Simply it means ‘have life’, ‘be strong’ ‘don’t give up’, It’s an emotional word we use to give each other strength. When you meet a man and he is hopeless, this is what you say to encourage him to carry on, “Baho my friend, baho!” It’s an expression that means a lot to me in my own background. As you know in Rwanda, we have a bad, bad history about genocide. I was seriously affected by this. My parents were taken by the genocide and in a family of five children I had to provide for my younger siblings. I was still only a small boy, but I was second eldest and responsibility fell to me. So life…it was hard.”

Emmanuel Rusatira, affectionately known as Emma, is an exceptional human. He has faced adversity many of us will never be able to understand. In the midst of complete devastation, he had to drop out of school to provide food for his family when they were orphaned, but fought his way back to education, determined to reach his full potential. He now holds multiple degrees and owns seven coffee washing stations.

“Listening to our coffees and sharing their conversation, is our main goal.”

“But look, now we are on the phone talking on Skype! Someone from a remote area like me! Someone from a poor family like me! Someone who was usually fetching water, cleaning floors of restaurants, washing the dishes to make sure that we had food and now I am talking to coffee professionals around the world. People don’t believe the life that I have had. Personally, I feel like I share this story with coffee. Why did I choose this ‘Baho' name? Coffee also goes through a difficult life, to survive it has to survive so much, it has wind, it has poor soil, it has leaf rust, it has disease, it has insects, after that it goes through machines, pah pah pah, then the roasters you hit it with serious heat and then at the end of all this, the result, it’s a delicious coffee. Everybody, all over the world just wakes up and says, oh I feel like a cup of coffee, but they would not believe the life that coffee had before, how difficult it was to get there. We believe coffee talks. Cleanliness, mouthfeel, aroma, sweetness, acidity, tasting notes all come to the surface in the cup. Listening to our coffees and sharing their conversation, is our main goal.”

Rwanda, and its coffee industry, has come very far from the horrific genocide against the Tutsi that took place in 1994 to the thriving country it is today. This unbelievable turnaround is a huge credit to the Rwandese people and is a great example rebuilding out of tragedy. In 2005 there was a move from the Rwandan government to revive the coffee industry, pushing a change from semi washed to fully washed coffee to improve quality. One international company already invested in coffee at the time, needed someone to help set up washing stations, someone they could train and grow from within their company to adapt their processes. Emma was recommended for the job by his lecturers. 

“I remember the exact day I joined. 26 April 2005. That was a day that made me feel like, wow, I was crying. You know as a teacher I was paid 3900 Francs a month. This new position started at 100 000 Francs per month. That was like the dream life for me.”

Rwanda is a small country, 26,338 sq kilometres, but there was big potential. It was already the top cash crop of the country in 2005, but there was no way to improve on this because they didn’t have the land to increase volume, the only option was to increase quality using the natural resources available and improving processing. 

“Coffee likes a high altitude area, it loves volcanic soil, it needs good rainfall all round the year, we have all those! We started the journey to move from low grade commercial coffee to try put it on the map in international coffee. Not in volume but quality wise. The government put in place grants to help people set up washing stations to accelerate the process. They managed to change in a very short time, the culture of processing. Coupled with private investment, education was possible, we started to be able to help farmers to improve the quality of the coffee through agronomy. I’m from a coffee farming family, I have seen the change. People know that good, reasonably priced coffee comes from Rwanda now.”

While he was learning and building these agricultural systems for big companies, he couldn’t shake a feeling that more could be done.

“I’m not a guy who gets satisfied easily. While I was on this journey I started to think about implementing my dreams and start working my philosophy. Whenever you work for someone else, and I’m not blaming any of the businesses I worked at, but when you work for someone, you want to speak your mind, but you can’t, because you are part of a team moving in a particular direction So being a coffee farmer, seeing the potential we could create, I started dreaming of working with coffee farmers hand in hand, advocating for them, allow them to speak their mind to promote the poor farmers who own the coffee trees, the same ones that make other people to be billionaires, but they remain poor, I dream to give back more to them. I knew this can only happen if I start my own approach. Three values, Culture, People and Coffee. Through coffee people from different culture, become one community. No matter the size of your business, no matter your origin, no matter your level of education, no matter if you’re mzungu (white) or if you’re black, though we are different culture we speak the same language, become the same community.”

With many years of experience in the Rwandan speciality coffee industry the Rusatira family, found the opportunity to set up their own washing stations and start to make the changes they wanted to see.

“But it has been one way for so long. We have to show the farmers to be proud of what they do, not ashamed, not silent, because in fact the coffee farmers are the boss, it is they who keep people like me up. Any wealth I have, comes from the farmers. We have to become wealthy together. There must be mutual respect, fair sharing of benefits of coffee. We are still a small business, we are trying to build to a place where all our farmers are smiling instead of crying. My father was a coffee farmer. What change can I bring, so that farmers are valuable and they’re able to grow too like the rest of the industry has. All year round, we work together with coffee producers to support them on the field, and financially, so as to produce the best coffee cherries of the region, and boost quality, year after year. All our attention goes to selection, depulping, fermentation, washing, drying, storage, and continuous quality control.”

Emmanuel supports farmers with access to fertilisers, helps them to check the condition of their trees and shares valuable knowledge about best farmer practices. Furthermore, he supports the farmers by covering their social insurance and giving them second payments at the end of the crop.

“We work with many coffee buyers that believe in this philosophy, that believe that paying more for the coffee makes sense for the future of coffee itself and helps farmers create better lives for themselves.”

The standard coffee price is set by government, but the distributors are not limited to this. The ‘Father of Natural and Honey’ in Rwanda, Emma helped government to set reference points and processing steps required to produce honey coffee after a training trip to Costa Rica, so that people can apply for a license. To sell naturals in Rwanda, first you need a license, and to get a license you need a guaranteed buyer. Otherwise it is illegal to produce naturals. With a commitment to buy the coffees you can go to the Rwandan National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) to get approval.

“Directly after that trip to Costa Rica, together with Muraho Trading Company, because I didn’t have washing stations, we set about developing the honey process for Rwanda. I can say, I am very proud of what we achieved there, because it opens a lot of doors for Rwanda in the specialty coffee world.”

He started experimenting with different methods and now works with an anaerobic fermentation technique that uses traditional clay brewing pots called "Intango". The cherries are placed in the pots and mixed with water. The added water comes from the depulper and contains a high sugar content due to the mucilage of the cherries. The cherries stay in this pot for 100 hours. The fermentation process is slower and more controllable as the clay material of the pots does not absorb heat. The cup profile differs depending on the conditions. Wet processing creates a livelier cup profile, while dry processing is more intense. After the coffee is fermented for 100 hours, the beans are spread on drying beds and turned every two hours. The beans are dried slowly by being protected from direct sunlight during the first five days.

“What value am I adding by using a natural/honey processing. To create more flavour, jasmine, dates, banana, berries, but also to take our coffees to the next level, get higher points than we have ever been able to achieve.”

Winston Thomas used one such coffee in the SA National Barista Championship and with it, successfully achieved his third title. 

Apart from award winning coffees, Baho is also known for the opportunities afforded to women in the communities that they work with. Emma chuckles softly when asked about this. “You know mostly we come from culture, that sees men as stronger, my father was one of those men, but even though I was a small boy, I was watching and I saw that really my mother was the one who was doing most of the work, providing us food and love. I grew up believing women are most valuable and if they can’t make money it is hard for them to overcome this idea of the patriarchy. I learnt from my mother, the strength and power of women. If women are given capacity, if women are given the chance, they will always take the opportunity. And you know, I know it’s a generalisation, but women have this good quality of being able to listen and in the same way they listen to the coffee, remember I told you coffee talks and coffee needs caution, and women listen, they listen to the coffee.”

Emma is an emotional man and you can tell in a very short space of time that the passion he has for people and for coffee is rooted deep.

“Fugi Washing Station in the south was my first investment, it has a special place in my heart. Now we own seven washing stations, four of them are producing at specialty level. They are all like my children!”

Fugi is equipped with two drying shelters, which provide shade to rest and sort the coffee beans, immediately after washing. The following day, the coffee moves to the drying beds where sorting continues by hand, every day of the drying process, to ensure all defects are removed. To get the coffee to a stable 12,8% moisture content, the coffee is dried with direct sunlight. If the sun is too hot, the beans are covered with penetrable sheets, although Fugi knows a very stable temperature curve throughout the year. 

“At this station, we experiment with different processing methods so as to push boundaries and improve our understanding and skills. This station is known to produce very clean, and vibrant coffees. It is like my first child!” he laughs fondly.

Although Muzo is the smallest of the seven washing stations run by Emmanuel and his family, some of the finest qualities are produced here. He leased the station for 10 years and eventually bought it in 2018. In close cooperation with the Muzo Cooperative, they are processing washed, honeys and naturals. Muzo Washing Station is located on a mountain slope in the hilly Gakenke District, where cold air is blown up at night - ideal for the coffee on the African beds. The rich volcanic soils, high rainfall and cool temperatures in the area create fruity, sweet and round cup profiles. It was badly affected by the rains of April 2020, but the potential remains.

“In my 17 year career, I’ve not seen anything like the damage the rainfall this year has done. Around 1,3 tonnes of coffee at just Bugoyi, but that is not the real tragedy. At Muzo my smallest station, lives were lost. Coffee trees completely washed away across the country, that will take years to rebuild those farms. And just think, the roads have been washed away, even those farmers whose trees survived, how do they get their coffee to a washing station, normally on their heads, on a bicycle, but how do they do that with no roads? The effects are catastrophic.”

 "Support is easy. Just pay a fair price for coffee, we will show you the change.”

Bugoyi Washing Station is located in Rutsiro District. With full dedication and love for his coffee, he has been processing fully washed, naturals and honeys since 2017. The location on the shore of Lake Kivu brings a light breeze and soft sunlight, ideal for cooling and drying the beans evenly. Damascen is the station manager of Bugoyi Washing Station. He is an expert in mobilisation and makes Bugoyi attractive to many farmers. Delphine is the Quality Manager and has been working in coffee for seven years. She oversees the drying of the coffees and is an important part of Baho Coffee. In close collaboration with 1,500 local smallholder farmers who bring their cherries to the washing station on foot or by bicycle, some outstanding and full-bodied washed, honeys and naturals are produced here. 80% of the workers at Bugoyi Washing Station are women.

The Humure Washing Station is named after the highest hill in the region. What is particularly impressive about this station is that it is entirely managed by women. After washing the coffee, the water is captured and pumped back up on the hill for reusage. Along with the practice of partial washing, the women try to use as little water as possible.

The future of Rwandan coffee despite the setback of the heavy rain damage this year, looks very bright. There are coffee professionals invested whole-heartedly in its success and with strong advocates like Emmanuel keeping the coffees front of mind, it will go from strength to strength. What can coffee consumers do to help?

“You know what I say to people who want to drink our coffee and want to support us. Support is easy. Just pay a fair price for coffee, we will show you the change.”

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