Harvest time on the South Coast: Some insights from Beaver Creek Coffee Farm

Friday, 8 May, 2020

We chatted to Dylan Cumming of Beaver Creek Coffee Farm as they continue to harvest coffee cherries on their South Coast farm.

How has the lockdown impacted harvest?

Yes, we are in harvest season. The lockdown has not impacted the harvesting. We usually have seasonal harvesters but due to most of our operations being curtailed we have permanent staff picking coffee. The yield is low because we are still in our renovation and rehabilitation phase which involves pruning and replanting of about half our farm. We have had another one of our out-growers, Okalweni, begin harvesting this year, which is exciting.

What has the yield been like this year?

Okalweni is a small farm with not more than 3 ha of cultivated coffee. This coffee stands as testimony to the misconception that high altitude is required for high quality coffee. Less than 100m above sea level and less than 3 km as the crow flies to the Indian Ocean ... this is an outlier in the world of coffee.

The first coffee of the season from both Beaver Creek and Okalweni will be available next week at www.beavercreek.co.za 

Can you give our readers some insight into what you are looking for regarding quality of cherries/ripeness.

For harvesting we are looking for full red cherries, no yellows and no stalks. Though it has been recently shown that the variety of colours from yellow to dark red does not have an affect on the sensory from a hedonic perspective, we are still looking for uniformity. The challenge of harvest management is not only of color but also of the average cherry weight by harvester. It is important to incentivise and manage the workers so that all ripe coffee is harvested and none is left behind. 

How are you processing your coffees, natural or washed? Are you trying anything experimental this harvest?

We are processing our coffee in a variety of traditional styles. We began the season with naturals as our pulper got held up during the early part of lockdown as it was being sandblasted and spraypainted. We usually do naturals later in the season. 

We have had a single lot of honey so far and the rest has been washed/wet processed as we reinstalled our original single disk pulper.

We have been experimenting with a new process over the past three seasons. We are working with the University of Stellenbosch Food Science Department and a PHD candidate, as well as Prof Chahan Yeretzian and his team from ZHAW School of Life Sciences and Facility Management Section for Coffee Competence Centre and Analytical Technologies. We are currently in the design phase of a “super factory” to be able to follow this new process as well a to bring a new level of flavour control or development in coffee.

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Supporting Barista education in a time of crisis

Friday, 8 May, 2020

Tech company Tendo is supporting baristas during this time by offering free online training from Barista Hustle. How cool is that?

The Team from Home of the Bean in Maboneng have taken the opportunity with both hands:

"A platform like Barista Hustle is much needed for baristas in South Africa. Although the first chapters cover basic knowledge, these are useful for developing someone who is not properly trained. It's worth noting that the courses require discipline from the candidate - there is a lot of content to read and some courses can take up to 30 hours to complete. If possible, baristas should break down modules into weekly amounts to create a focused learning experience instead of being overwhelmed with too much training at the start. We're fans though!"

Barista Hustle has seven professional-grade baristas courses ranging from entry level skills to more specific areas of knowledge - percolation, terroir and coffee quality control. Material is arranged in a series of modules that take roughly 20 hours to work through, concluding with an assessment and a certification of completion.

Tendo has been offering free online training to baristas in lockdown, sharing full access to Barista Hustle's courses for a month. They hope that baristas can access the courses through them, complete one or two and continue to deepen their interest in the industry.

The lockdown has shown how important local commerce is, not just as a means of getting provisions but also for creating a sense of community. Coffee shops are an important part of this fabric and we expect them to come back, even if some businesses have been negatively impacted by the sudden downturn. As things return to normal, Tendo hopes to see baristas recognised as valuable professionals carrying out a fulfilling craft.

If you're a barista, have you filled in the Barista Wage Calculator survey yet? Please do! We need you to be part of this valuable resource.

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

A delivery solution for your business?

Thursday, 30 April, 2020

With deliveries from restaurants and cafes being allowed in Level 4 of SA's lockdown, these business owners are scrambling to be listed on delivery platforms. The truth of the matter is that the platforms are expensive for business owners, necessary for sure, but also it is really difficult to make any margins. So people are getting creative and delivering their own and creating an employment position/pivot for their staff. In the tech space too, there has been a surge of creation and one such platform is Place Order from a local SA company.

This gives businesses an opportunity to take control of the Delivery situation and may prove more cost effective than the other options currently available.

We chatted to Tim Strang, V & S Innovation Co-Founder, about the benefits of the application and how much it will actually cost business owners*.

In layman's terms Place Order will build a portal for you to sell your goods, it lives within your website/under your branding. It is integrated into your Point of Sale system (at this point only GAAP and Pilot) and you can set the parameters for delivery radius, charges, use your own delivery method or use their third party partner (PicUp, another local start up that fulfills Bottles orders for example and has a National footprint).

An example of successful integration of this system can be seen here.

So what will this cost a business? 

There is a R7250 set up cost, and then a fixed monthly cost, that will vary depending on which options you choose, but according to Tim usually comes to around R700. Bank charges on transactions are for the business owners cost, but there is no per order commission built in. This is a very significant factor because while the start up costs may seem high on first glance, see below the breakdown on becoming a vendor on Mr D (as at March 20 2020, so this may have changed in the interim): 

The instore device monthly rental fee is R325.00+vat which includes the data on the two sim cards.

The commission costs are as follows

 27.5% + Vat on Delivery Orders

20% + Vat on Collect Orders

The signup fee to onboard your store is R2000.00+vat which you need not pay upfront.  We will let you trade for a few weeks and then utilize the sign-up fee this towards marketing your store by bumping the store to the top slots that rotate for a week to give you exposure. The amount will be added to an invoice and deducted from sales.      

So that per order commission can rack up pretty darn quick. There is also a cap on how much mark up you can put on your items (as the business owner). So it is a tricky space indeed. Everyone is just trying to survive so we can understand that the platforms come at a premium, but it's also good to know that there are other options. Maybe Place Order could work for your business? Worth the investigation and getting in touch with them!

*Please note these figures will vary from business to business and you should contact V&S directly for accurate info tailored to your needs.

Place Order Ordering Platform Gives Restaurants and Retailers New Delivery Capability

Under Level Four of the phased reopening of the economy, restaurants around the country will be able to operate once more, albeit only via the delivery of takeaways. Additionally, with the lockdown still essentially in place, although to a lesser extent, more brick and mortar retailers will require online ordering and delivery capabilities too. For many small businesses and those lacking the amenities to make deliveries, mainstream delivery solutions are often too expensive or simply out of geographical reach. To this end, V & S Innovation, a local business incubator, has developed the Place Order platform, a new and affordable online ordering and delivery solution for businesses wanting to get their operations back up and running.

Place Order is an all-in-one ordering, payment, delivery and loyalty solution  (and the only one of its kind) which allows businesses to upload their products to a personalised platform from which customers are able to browse, select, pay for and arrange delivery of their purchases, all from the comfort of their own homes.

The platform is compatible with a range of leading point-of-sale solutions, such as GAAP and Pilot POS. Plus, it can be fully operational within three to four working days, enabling outlets to become fully functioning faster and at a fraction of the cost of developing a solution for each enterprise. Establishments are given the option of managing deliveries themselves or using the platform’s tried and tested third party delivery solutions to deliver on a mass scale. Over and above the in-built loyalty solution offered, Place Order also allows outlets to integrate existing customer loyalty programmes - further incentivising patrons to order more often via the platform and ensuring the consistency in service they have come to expect.

Understandably, restaurants in small towns and underserviced areas do not have the urban marketplace apps and scale to warrant their own applications. The V&S Innovation team has therefore developed the MiTown app which equips outlets in these regions with all the features of the Place Order platform. All of the eateries within these regions are listed in one app and by enabling combined online ordering and delivery, they are afforded an economical solution. What’s more, customers only need to download one app to gain access to all these restaurants.

According to V & S Innovation Co-Founder, Tim Strang, solutions such as Place Order are a pressing necessity: “The reality is that COVID-19 is going to have a prolonged impact on the food and hospitality sectors. While certain restrictions may be lifted, it will most likely be a while before we see any sign of a return to normal operations for businesses in these areas. At the same time, these establishments are vital providers of food and act as a catalyst for job creation and economic development. The problem is that existing food delivery services charge restauranteurs rates that are not feasible in the current economic climate if they are to operate at all. For businesses in the food industry to operate and continue to contribute, they need a solution that works with their budget and they need to be able to work within the restrictions placed upon them by Government. In this case, that means ensuring they are able to service customers via a delivery service that is affordable.”

For  Dror Zur, owner of Stars Restaurant in Mossel Bay, Place Order, has been a lifesaver: “We  looked at creating a delivery app for a long time but found it very costly and complicated, that is until we got in contact with Place Order.  It is very cost effective, fast and simple. Now, we can finally grow our food delivery side!"

In addition to restaurants, Place Order is the ideal delivery solution for any business: “Our software is capable of handling vast amounts of data and a plethora of products, making it a viable solution for food outlets, retailers, offices, factories, and school canteens too. The benefit of using Place Order in these spaces is that it eliminates the need for queues which helps maintain physical distancing. To date, we have already successfully launched the platform in two Spar outlets in KwaZulu-Natal,” adds Strang.

Kyle Buckley of Winklespruit SuperSpar says: “With the huge demand of WhatsApp ordering, we decided to take it one step forward - online ordering. We believe online ordering is here to stay, and the Place Order system was able to get up and running quickly to enable click and collect as well as delivery for our store. It has been a huge help during the difficult times we are all facing."

To create a Place Order application for your business or for more information, go to https://www.vands.co.za/

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

What does Lockdown Level 4 mean for Coffee Businesses?

Tuesday, 28 April, 2020

So the new Level 4 restrictions have been released and cafe owners were hoping for better news, and it seems the restrictions are up for debate. You can however continue to get beans delivered to you at home, see our growing list here.

The food service industry still has its hands tied:

Restaurants can sell meals through delivery services, but takeaway collections from stores are not allowed. Which means that takeaway coffees are also theoretically a no-go? A few cafes seem to be planning to utilise radius based deliveries through platforms like Uber Eats so that they can serve their community, while some of the larger chain cafes that operate high street, corporate and garage forecourts sites seem to have found a work around to sell takeaway coffees at select venues. Everybody's trying to make a plan to bring in some sales.

We canvassed the industry for responses to this and these are a few of the responses:

Craig  Charity (Lineage Coffee, Hillcrest, KZN)  - "I can't see how Level 4 will affect us less than Level 5, We will only be able to start take-away’s from Level 3 so for now we are focusing on online coffee bean sales and wholesale".

Amy Gardiner (Humble Coffee, Durban KZN)  -  "It looks likely that parts of KZN will remain on level 5 for the foreseeable future.

Regardless of this, ”Level 4” doesn’t look very different to “Level 5”  for us.
I don’t think that home deliveries will be as desirable as takeaway especially with our product offering. I also worry that opening up may put the business at risk even more as we would risk losing relief such as rent freezes and UIF support,
while outlaying costs that we may not recoup. This being said, we’re still having a great time selling coffee & alternative milk through our online shop and I think this is what we will focus on in the coming weeks/months!

Angeline McLagan (Urban Espress, PE) - "Level 4 simply means that we are one step closer to having you, our valuable Coffee family, enjoy our delicious brew In the comfort of your own home or wherever you find yourselves in this lockdown period. A little happiness amidst the chaos"

David Donde (Truth, Cape Town)  - "Level 4 is different for the different facets of our business."

For roasting, it means a team effort to roast with the same single minded objective of producing extraordinary coffee, at quantity levels well below pre COVID19 demand. Many of our hospitality clients will not be trading, some never again.

For the Cafe, we remain shut down for sit down. Renewed efforts for the pre-lockdown extraordinary offerings the team put together for in app delivery (Uber eats and Coffee Monster et al) will be rejuvenated and customer responses monitored and feedback amplified. For example A collaboration with Frankie Fenner Meat Market for a  Steak with Cafe du Paris butter and fries via delivery and pickup was a winner, demand started just as we were closed.

Furthermore, we are doing our best to share income amongst staff as best we can, ignoring job descriptions and team functionality, while keeping the group together and families fed. We will keep to this policy if we can! For this we need customer support.

David Walstra - Thirdspace, JHB - "Level 4 is not what coffee shops were expecting and is rather bad news in terms of being able to interact with customers again.

It presents a rather bitter dilemma in that the larger contracted companies who are able to deliver on your behalf will be doing so by taking half your profit unless we do so ourselves. We all need to do a full cost assessment to figure out if it’s worth opening up as it may be be costing us more in the long run (your landlord for instance may demand full rent because you’re trading again and you’re only able to trickle in a few thousand in delivering coffee and muffins)  - we only need to look at the recent announcement by the Spur Group indicating it would be commercial suicide to do some sort of soft opening - the same could apply to cafes only allowed to do deliveries.

At the end of the day the ability to pivot if you’ve got online presence or if your able to weather the storm becomes paramount to be ready for the turnaround. New Zealand has just opened up and people are queuing around the corner at their favorite spot they’ve missed so much - we must never forget that our customers are missing us too and we’d be well advised to push to get to the other side as it will be a lot less crowded when we get there".

Thera Van 't Hof ( vida e caffè - National )  “At vida e caffè we are devoted to the safety and well-being of our customers and our teams. As we move into level 4 of lockdown we are excited to announce that we will begin re-opening some of our Forecourt shops in partnership with Shell, as well as opening in selected corporate environments where consumers are returning to work. For those working, studying and still on lockdown at home, we are offering delivery through our partners, UberEats and MrD, across selected suburbs and city centres.  A huge vida thank you to our passionate team members returning to work to make this possible.
We continue to ensure our customers are creating their own favourite vida at home, through the ordering of our capsules and bean ranges online at Takealot and the Online Beverage Store. We're working on additional ways to rescue as much of our ingredients and surplus food as possible and continue to support our local communities through donations to SAHarvest food rescue, while donating coffee to essential healthcare workers and hospitals over this time."


Bernard Muneri (SCASA Chairperson) - The reality on the ground is the running of most Coffee shops overheads far outweigh the cost of sales that will be generated from Deliveries only trade. We remain positive and carry on engaging with relevant Government departments to at least lift and relax Level 4 lockdown further to allow us to come back to normal trade while we understand fully the devastation caused by the pandemic. Submissions and proposals to support our position as SCASA already sent to the Government. Remember, we are in this together and we urge all our members and communities at large to respect and follow provided guidelines to beat this COVID-19. Together we shall overcome, stay strong and keep safe.

We've also reached out to a couple other parties and will update this piece as they come in.

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Follow the A Shot in the Dark 2020 competition coffee around SA!

Friday, 24 April, 2020

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Win with Issue 31 and OKJA Oat M*lk

Friday, 17 April, 2020

With the delay in getting our Print Edition to the shelves we have adapted and have released our latest edition for sale online! 

We are putting up 8 prizes of R650 each to people who buy the magazine! (It's only R36.20 online!) 

So we have 8 x cases of OKJA Oat m*lk (12 x 1 litre) and 8 x limited edition Coffee Magazine flasks to give to 8 lucky readers! All you have to do is buy Issue 31.

One of the articles this edition is a beginners guide to the alternatives to dairy and OKJA is a new oat milk that is developed by an amazing group of South Africans so we're super excited to partner with them on this.

We also received good news this week that our printing and distribution partners have received the go-ahead to start to distribute the magazine to retail stores, so we will keep you posted on the progress of that!

Thank you for supporting our small business by buying this beautiful magazine that we put a lot of love and care into.

Please note: Only people residing in SA are eligible for these prizes!

Got any questions? Please email us!

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Barista Wage Calculator - New COVID-19 Section

Thursday, 16 April, 2020

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Looking after Health and Wellbeing with Red Espresso

Thursday, 16 April, 2020

Everybody has come together to play their part in the crisis we're facing and for a brand built on uplifting the healthy side of deliciousness, Red Espresso, it is important to keep people's immunity strong. Their partnership with CANSA was started in 2015 and they've stepped it up to start a Buy One Donate One initiative to deliver to local cancer patients whom are all part of this high risk group. Just go place an order from their online store to support! In the coming weeks we'll be partnering with Red Espresso to bring you tips, recipes and ideas for incorporating healthy ingredients into your diet to keep you and your families strong over this time.


To our red espresso® community,

Our thoughts are with everyone and we hope that you and your loved ones are all safe and well at this time.

The coronavirus is teaching all of us a sense of coming together as a family and as a community, of thinking of others and showing them kindness and compassion. And of showing courage in the face of uncertainty. 

15 years ago, we started our family business with the mission to bring health and wellness into coffee shops and homes around South Africa. Now, during these difficult times, we believe we can make a difference and want to do our part to help our community stay healthy and strong. 

You might not know this, but our award-winning range of deliciously healthy drinks are also known as rainbow drinks for their beautiful colours. They are our rooibos red cappuccino® and red latte®, golden turmeric latte, green tea matcha latte and crimson beetroot and ginger latte. Each one of these drinks is made from pure plant-based goodness and has a wide range of health benefits that can boost your immune system and help to prevent infection.

We’ve been brainstorming ways to make a positive impact locally and being part of the Rainbow Nation inspired us to find an answer.

Our online shop is open and we are processing and delivering online orders during lockdown. We’re starting a Buy One, Give One movement of all of our rainbow drinks. For every rainbow drink bag or box sold, we will give a free bag to a local resident who is part of the high risk group*. Simply place your order on our online shop.

Stay safe. Stay healthy, South Africa.

The red espresso® team

Join The Buy One, Give One Movement

* We have been partners with The Cancer Association of South AfricaCANSA, since 2015. We will be giving our free bags of rainbow drinks to CANSA to deliver to their local cancer patients whom are all part of the high risk group. You can read more about our partnership with CANSA here#DoubleRainbow  #KindnessMatters  #RainbowNation

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!