A Shot in the Dark 2020: Preliminary Round Judging

Thursday, 21 May, 2020

There was a flurry of excitement in the roasting world this week as the A Shot in the Dark presented by Genio Roasters competition coffees poured into the Sevenoaks Trading offices in Joburg, by courier, by hand and by homing pigeon - anything in fact - to beat the deadline!  There were some casualties along the way with some roasters unable to get their coffees through customs to SA or navigate the lockdown challenges - but in the end, 40 out of 50 competitors delicious parcels of goodness landed on the boardroom table at the Sevenoaks HQ. 

For those of you who don't know, Sevenoaks Trading, under the leadership of Carol Corlett, is one of the premier green coffee sourcing and distributing company in SA, with a 20 year history of trading in South Africa, and responsible for sourcing many of the best coffees around the world for our local market.   

A Shot in the Dark was started 3 years ago and has gone from strength to strength. This year the judging panel consisted of 3 of SA's top Q-graders: Nicodemus Nabakwe, Cuth Bland and Matthew Carter, ably assisted by the wonderful Thorisa and Paulien from Sevenoaks.  Mike MacDonald assisted in an advisory capacity and in updating the scoresheet beforehand.

Nicodemus Nabakwe, Head Judge weighs in: "It was another great opportunity awarded to me to judge this year’s ASITD. The judging panel and assistants were awesome and common sense prevailed where social distancing took precedence. Judges had to be split to judge on their separate tables as new rules were set. The score sheets this year improved from last year where flavour and sweetness took command of the roast". 

"All roasters who entered did extremely well as the bar was raised very high from last year’s competition. We had quite amazing roasts but what tantalized our taste buds more were City roasts. This roast brought out more refined flavours and sweetness with the final scores being tight after much calibration by the judges, Great work to all competitors who took part and see you all at CCW2020. May the best Roaster win."

Matt Carter joined the judging team in 2020 and we asked him about his experience cupping and scoring the different roasting profiles and styles of the competition coffee: "It was an incredible experience to cup alongside Nicodemus and Cuth, an absolute privilege which I'm super grateful for.  It was really interesting to taste the remarkable difference between the sets of cups even though it was the same coffee just by the different way people had roasted the coffee!  The roasting quality was impressive. We have some very good roasters in this country and I'm very proud to be have tasted the very best of them over these three days."   

Top 10 will be announced early next week!

Thank you to our incredible sponsors:

Presenting Sponsor: Genio Roasters

Preliminary Round Coffee and Venue Sponsor Sevenoaks Trading

Final Round Coffee Sponsor: Specialty Coffee Exchange

Equipment sponsor: Equipment Cafe

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GIVEAWAY: Premium Chai Latte Powder + Milk Frother

Thursday, 21 May, 2020

With the days getting cooler and the lockdown getting longer, we're all looking for a bit of comfort in the small things. A chai latte is an uplifting blend of spices and creamy milk. Read all about how to make the best brew here.

Bringing joy seems to be what the Red Espresso team do best and they're putting up an amazing prize to keep you all smiling.

The prize includes:

1 x Spiced/Vanilla Chai Latte Powder

1 x Baccarat Venice Milk Frother 450ml

1 x Instant Spiced Chai Latte Sachets (box of 10)

The winner can choose whether they would like the Spiced Chai or Vanilla Chai powder.

How can you win? Easy peasy. In the comments below, tell us your favourite caffeine-free hot beverage alternative and tag two of your friends that you're going to have over for dinner and end off with warms cups of goodness when this lockdown is over!

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Cafe Focus: Toro Coffee

Thursday, 21 May, 2020

We chatted to Etienne of Toro Coffee to see how this wonderful brand that started in Potch is doing. They've sprouted multiple branches and are an energetic and deliciously caffeinated team!

What was it like putting together your beautiful cafes?

When we started out we had to do most of the shop fitting ourselves.  We had a lot of passion but did not have a lot of experience or a big budget for setting up the cafe, but we had a goal in mind and tried to accomplish this as good as we could.  We’ve since renovated probably on a yearly basis as we are still not were we want to be, but we are getting close;-)  With our other two locations, we had a good idea of what we wanted to do in the spaces available and luckily we’ve met a lot of contractors (that also became friends) during our time in the industry to know what we can leave to the experts.  The space is not perfect but it is home, we are more concerned about what you feel when you visit than what you see.

What is the ethos of your business?

We are a family and there will always be more space around the table for anyone to join our family.  We care for everyone that forms part of Toro, whether you are a customer, supplier or working for the company.  Toro means “dream” in Tswana (local language spoken in Potch) and we want everyone that works with us to fulfil their dreams.  

Tell us what makes the space special to you?  

The people.  The space will mean nothing without the people.  Our heart is really about building community and creating a space where people can connect and build relationships.  

What do you love most about being in the coffee industry?

Coffee = community

We’ve met so many people in the coffee industry that makes us want to dream even bigger and make an even bigger impact in the lives of people connected in someway to the industry.  Whether it means supporting local or buying fair trade (generous trade) it gives us the platform to be a part of that change.  We would love to see a new standard of doing business being set and we believe that that is achievable through coffee.  

How important are regulars to the fabric of day cafe life?

Regulars are a part of the DNA of any cafe.  You are known for the people that regularly occupy a space in the cafe.  For us it means getting to know people and building trust so that we can also impact their lives or let them impact ours.  It is so rewarding to share in the joy of someone or perhaps knowing when to support someone in a time of need.  This is only possible when the relationship has formed through regular interaction.  We value regulars more than what we can put into words.  They are the people that support our DREAM and make it possible to do what we love.

Name one menu item that we would never expect or have heard of before - a uniquely Toro creation! (food or beverage)

The Gabe.  This drink has 4 espresso shots over ice with a dash of fresh cream.  Named after a good friend that likes his coffee strong!!

How are you passing the time in lockdown? Give us your favourite silly thing to do! 

My wife and I became new parents on the day of lockdown and have been blessed to be able to spend this time with our baby girl.  The silliest thing we did was starting to run around our house to get some kind of a workout.  It started with a few laps and escalated in a 10km and later a half marathon.

Can people still get coffee from you during lockdown? 

We are allowed to ship coffee and also more recently have been able to do deliveries. 

Whats the first thing you’re going to do when you get into the shop?

Cleanup and get the espresso machine running as soon as possible.

What have you learned about yourselves and others that you didn’t know before this? 

House arrest doesn’t seem to be as much fun as I thought it would be.  On a more serious note, I’ve seen communities being able to stand together and look out for each other that can only happen when everyone involved goes through the same thing.  

What would you like to tell everyone in your community at this moment. 

We miss you and cannot wait to see everyone again.  This too will pass, we were created to be a part of this story for a time like this.  Let's write a good ending.

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Help support front line workers and baristas through coffee

Thursday, 21 May, 2020

Support front line workers by keeping them caffeinated!

Coffee companies around the country are helping keep health workers motivated and awake with your support.

Bean There x Motherland: Buy a coffee for a health worker for R15

In partnership with Motherland, Bean There are supplying government health workers with coffee over this difficult time. You can join in the effort and help!

Red Band Barista Academy: Coffee 4 Heroes

What a fantastic initiative from this Port Elizabeth based team. Makes our hearts burst with pride at coffee people doing the most to lift others up! Buy a coffee and support both health workers and the Red Band Baristas, amazing!!!

"Our Red Band Baristas, trainers and coffee bars are closed and therefore can't earn a living from selling coffee, they are the very life blood of their families. The coffee bean that changed their lives so significantly is now not under lockdown.
We want to be able to pay our Baristas salaries and help the medical staff who are fighting the virus on the front-line. So while we can’t open our Red Band coffee bars we will be serving hospital workers with free coffee.
Every cup you purchase from us we will give a cup away.
By doing this we keep our Baristas employed and give a wonderful coffee to the people that need it most working on the front line at the hospitals."

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Breaking News: ALL e-commerce now allowed

Friday, 15 May, 2020

Yesterday on 14th May the government announced that the strict e-commerce restrictions that were put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have been lifted. This means that all non-essential items (except for alcohol and cigarette products) can now be sold online, including coffee equipment!

This is great news for the South African e-commerce industry and for many of our coffee industry partners. This is an important step in getting our economy back on track.

Here are a few great places to shop online for all your coffee requirements:

@home have a great range of Coffee brewing tools including the Breville range online at:

Cape Coffee Beans are a one stop shop for all your coffee needs and they stock some of SA's best specialty coffees too!

MoreFlavour stocks some really great coffee gadgets and you are bound to find a new brewing device here that will bring you lots of coffee joy! 

Coffee and Coffee Beans online:
Check out the ever-growing page of Roasteries and Coffee Bean suppliers here

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Lockdown Solutions: How about leasing a bike for coffee deliveries? Find out how!

Friday, 15 May, 2020

Lockdown is proving to be a difficult trading period for the coffee community but with every new challenge comes opportunity!

Just ask Denis Vaden, well known to the Coffee Community in SA as the guy behind State 5 Coffee.

Denis' latest offering for coffee people looking to beat the lockdown is a motorbike delivery leasing offer.  You can lease a bike from Denis for R2500 a month which includes branding, insurance and a whole lot more! 

"It's about timing - Everyone is going to need to deliver at some point in this time. People need to deliver." 

"We have a leasing business, we already lease coffee equipment to the market, so why not add a motorbike to it and allow people to deliver?"  says Denis.

He's not kidding around! Denis is an entrepreneur who is always looking to challenge conventional thinking and ways of doing business!

"We have come up with bikes, fully maintained and insured 125 cc delivery bikes which are more powerful than a scooter, and we are leasing them to small businesses for R2500 a month"

The bike leasing service is available Nationwide. "We have dealerships in each of the provinces, but it will require the guys to bring the bikes in every once in a while to keep them running perfectly" 

We asked Denis about delivering hot coffee - how does he see it working?  "If we are clever enough in this and we get enough guys in the coffee industry on board, we can build custom made boxes to hold coffees and even have a warmer  in the back. You never really get a great cappuccino unless you are delivering really close, but it could work for Americanos and Filter coffee, no doubt"

" If I get enough takers, I'm happy to do the work behind the scene and drive this. Ten people would be a great number to start off with" 

If you are interested in working with Denis on this you can contact him on denis@freshbrands.co.za or on 082 572 2605

Denis aka "Mr. State 5"

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Cafe Focus: Bayhound Coffee Works

Friday, 15 May, 2020

We chatted to Susan and Pieter of Bayhound Coffee Works in Polokwane!

What was it like starting your business and how did you get into coffee?

Starting a coffee business was one of the most exciting things we’ve ever done. We had fallen in love with coffee culture and the idea of creating some kind of hub for this culture to exist in Polokwane made us giddy. What led up to it was moving here and being devastated to find that there weren’t any roasteries or specialty coffee shops for 100s of kms around, so we felt that we had no choice but to take matters into our own hands. We started small, roasting from home and brewing out of a trailer, but where there is determination and conviction there is surely a way, and we grew organically over the last three years to having a small café and also a container brew bar and roastery as well as two mobile coffee wagons. And then there’s the joke version we have about being forced to start dealing to support our (legal) drug habit.

What is the ethos of your business?

We believe in roasting and making good coffee well, without the pretentiousness. We like to keep it down to earth, simple and real. We like to do our bit to only buy ethical coffee and create awareness around it, and source our goods from other local small businesses. Most of all, we believe business is about relationships, hence our version of the common quip, business is not business.

Tell us what makes your cafe space special to you?  

 Almost everything in our spaces Pieter and I either made ourselves or with the help of friends and family, and that includes our roaster! It’s original and it’s us, our blood sweat and tears, our vision. Pieter spent three solid months converting our 12m container into a coffee bar and a roastery—single handedly, just a man and his angle grinder and welder. Nothing has ever come easy, maybe that’s why it’s so special. And then of course, the people that frequent those spaces. Almost all of the friends we made since moving to Polokwane started out as customers, and now it often feels like it’s more their place than ours! Their toddlers draw pictures on our chalkboard menus, some customers want to get behind the espresso machine and make their own coffee, and we love that.

What do you love most about being in the coffee industry?

I mean, the people! And then the science. I got my degree in biochemistry before getting distracted by coffee, and so the coffee bar is my laboratory. Coffee is a field of study by itself and the knowledge to be gained is boundless, limited only by your own interest. I love formulas, and so I love creating brew recipes and geeking out over fancy new equipment. I’m currently lusting after a TDS meter to measure the percentage of actual coffee particles in the espresso. It helps find that sweet spot when exploring a new bean and also helps maintain the all important consistency we strive for.

How important are regulars to the fabric of day cafe life?

If you use the analogy of café life being fabric, then regulars are the threads. They’re everything, they are the ones that give café life meaning, because you get to know them, get to share in their lives, celebrating their wins with them and mourning their sorrows with them. Some of our regulars have been through some harrowing things and it has felt good to be able to offer some sort of comfort through what we do. As Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory says, when people are upset the cultural convention is to bring them a hot beverage.

Name one menu item that we would never expect or have heard of before - a uniquely Bayhound creation! (food or beverage)

We’ve actually just created a new one for Winter! We’ve created a fusion of our golden latte made from our own blend of spices, and our Nutella latte. It’s amazing, the flavours of coffee, chocolate, hazelnut, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon all working together to retrieve the feeling of being in front of a fire on a cold evening with a book. We’re calling it The Golden Retriever. Have you noticed we love dogs yet? We even have something for your dog on our menu, it’s called the Brakkie Brew. Warm chicken stock topped with milk foam. They go crazy for it.

Can people still get coffee from you during lockdown? 

Yes! They can order off our menu via Uber Eats, and our beans are available to order. They can pop us an email at hello@bayhound.co.za and we’ll arrange.

What have you learned about yourselves and others that you didn’t know before this pandemic? 

Well one thing is we learned that we needed a break! We would never have taken 5 weeks off in any other circumstance, as I’m sure most people wouldn’t have. We have to take our blessings where we find them. We learned that we really love gardening, and started a huge veggie garden. We learned that the people we thought were good and kind, are even more good and kind in tough times than in easy times. It’s beautiful to see people looking after each other the way they are right now.

What would you like to all everyone in your community at this moment?

 First, thank you to everyone who has continued to get their coffee from us! Times are tough right now, but when this is all over we will still be here and we cannot wait to have everyone back, physically in the shop so we can hear your stories, have those conversations, hear how you’re doing, have coffee together and go forward together as a greater community beyond shop walls.

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Community: Catching up with Eduardo!

Friday, 15 May, 2020

When Eduardo approached Marunic Trading to start the import of coffee from South and Central America, he knew he would have to get to know the community to be successful, so he jumped right in!

Hi Eduardo, tell us a little about your business and how you came to be living and working in South Africa?  

MARUNIC TRADING is a commodities trading company that has been specializing, for the last 10 years, in the supply of both hard and soft commodities as well as providing logistics and transport to and from South Africa and neighboring countries.

Marunic Trading’s home base is in George in the Western Cape and stands under the directorship of 3 brothers with a Team of about 45 other staff members.

I met one of the directors, Mr. Eugene Van Loggerenberg, a few years ago and after sharing my passion for coffee with him, him and his brothers completely embraced the idea and trusted in me from the very beginning of importing green beans from South and Central America into the South African market.  Fast-forward 2 years, we not only seized the opportunity to grow but also to help others grow with us.

I’ve been visiting South Africa since 2014, which not only resulted in the establishment of a coffee business but also allowing me to get involved in social and spiritual development programs serving poor communities in Du Noon, Khayelitsha and also in Namibia, and this passion for people, for life, for those ones who is under difficult circumstances has a very special place into my Heart.

Tell us about how you got started in coffee and your background?

I am a qualified Business graduate and post graduate, also a PMI certified Project Manager for large companies in Brazil.  My life was mostly spend on the Road/flights, and doing projects planning and management for large buildings such as Airports, Hospitals, Stadiums etc.

But it is actually my passion for people that sparked my journey into the wonderful world of coffee.  My house has always been a place where friends, family and neighbors, they were welcomed for a good cup of coffee or just chill together.

Being the people’s person that I am, I met a coffee farmers son while studying and he introduced me to their farm, the plants, the coffee and the culture of coffee.  I was instantly hooked.  And from that day I have been researching, training and buying coffee beans, coffee machines and everything that goes along with it. 

What makes Brazilian coffee so special?

I deeply love Brazil, my people, who we are and what we have to give to the world.  We have a huge heart for people.

But honestly I can’t say that the mass produced Brazilian Coffee is so special.

As it stands, it is very well accepted into blends for its characteristics of low acidity, Chocolate, sweetness and nuts and has a very good market price.

The big Brazilian coffee producers, are doing great in Fair Trade, in preserving the environment and fairly remunerating the workers and producers.

As a Brazilian coffee guy I work hard to change the perception of Brazilian Coffee being only a cheap coffee with very little else to offer.

There are very small producers in Brazil that are doing exceptional work in producing a delicious coffee beans (challenging the current Brazilian coffee beans status quo), who in my view will reach the highest positions around the world very soon. 

In our last magazine, you put together such a cool Coffee Adventure  - that sounded exhausting! But a lot of fun too, you clearly have a love for what you do! What motivates you to work so hard for coffee? 

I have three things that motivate me – PRAISE, PASSION AND PERSISTENCE.

Firstly, Praising God for every gift He placed in me and applying these gifts for His glory

Secondly, PASSION.  It is my secret key for everything I do.  Passion is the difference between doing things well and doing it well, effortlessly.

And finally PERSISTENCE. Some of my clients will testify that it was my persistence that sealed the deal.  I do believe in what I am doing, I do believe it is good, I do believe its worthy… So I will persist!

You have been very involved in the SA Coffee Community since you turned up on the scene a few years ago… you came to Creative Coffee Week, you have attended Expos and SSCASA events… which events are your favorites and why? 

If I could and I would be present at every event, but unfortunately someone has to run the coffee business.

I do no have a particular favorite but I must highlight the Coffee and Chocolate event in JHB.  It was simply amazing as it provided great learning opportunity and I could get involved.

To me, as long it is well organized, with Coffee and People everywhere, I am happy…. Hahahahah

Tell us, what is your next exciting Marunic Trading adventure going to be?

We have many plans up our sleeve that we believe will positively impact the South African Coffee society, but for now we must keep it a secret.  Don’t worry, I hope to share it very soon with you guys and get you onboard with us into an incredible Coffee Journey.

You can also view this graphic of Eduardo's epic coffee hunting journey in the latest Coffee Magazine,issue 31,  on sale now, or download from Magzter: https://www.magzter.com/ZA/True-North-Media/Coffee-Magazine/Food-&-Beverage/

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