A Shot in the Dark 2020: The Final Countdown

Friday, 24 July, 2020

We are so excited to reveal who best roasted the amazing coffees sponsored by Sevenoaks Trading and Specialty Coffee Exchange in the this year's A Shot in the Dark sponsored by Genio Coffee Roasters.

Historically, the winner has been announced at Creative Coffee Week, when the coffee industry is gathered together to celebrate and learn together. In the past we have had some international heavyweights in the room to impart their knowledge from around the globe too. Obviously, things are a tad different this year.

Deep discussions around the Top 10 coffees!

So we have had to tuck and roll and we want to shine a light on the amazing work done behind the scenes, both by the Judges and Sponsors and the incredible roasters. So next week, we will be revealing the results via Instagram live. Good luck to the Top 10!

Here is the schedule:

12pm,  Monday 27th July 2020: 10th, 9th + 8th position announced. Meet the Roasters. Chat to cupping and espresso machine equipment partner, Equipment Cafe, judge Matt Carter and barista, Tintswalo 'Tiny' Tshabalala.

12pm,  Tuesday 28th July 2020: 7th + 6th position announced. Meet the Roasters. Chat to Finals Round Coffee Sponsor, Specialty Coffee Exchange and judge Cuth Bland.

12pm,  Wednesday 29th July 2020: 5th + 4th position announced. Meet the Roasters. Chat to Preliminary Round coffee sponsor, Sevenoaks Trading. 

12pm,  Thursday 30 July 2020: Chat to Neil Maree of headline sponsor Genio Coffee Roasters. Chat to Head Judge Nicodemus Nabakwe. Meet the Top 3 Roasters. 3rd, 2nd and 1st position announced.

Exciting times ahead!

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Video: Green shoots emerging...Nedbank PMB partners with Coffee Box to provide free coffee for an hour!

Friday, 24 July, 2020

Times are hard indeed, and everyone is feeling the effects of the National Lockdown so we were thrilled to be able to hear about this very mindful initiative to provide some relief for the locals of Pietermaritzburg. 

Do you have a good news stpry involving coffee? Let us know  by dropping us an email

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Seeds of Hope: Changing lives of subsistence rooibos farmers

Friday, 24 July, 2020

Did you know that every time you enjoy a rooibos red cappuccino® you’re helping a subsistence farming family in the furthest reaches of the Cederberg to reclaim the pride and purpose that have been missing from this neglected corner of South Africa for so long? You’re also savouring the purest single origin rooibos on the planet. Who ever said doing good can’t taste good too?

Barend Ockhuis, subsistence rooibos farmer

“I’ve lived in Heuningvlei all my life and have been farming since I left school. But everything has changed since red espresso® started to give me seedlings and plough my land. I now earn more than I could ever have imagined. red espresso® is making a difference for my generation.”

We spoke to Pete Ethelston, Co-Founder and Managing Director of red espresso®, to find out more about their Seeds of Hope subsistence farming project and how it’s changing the lives of farmers in the upper reaches of the Cederberg.

At the end of winding gravel tracks trodden by donkey carts, red espresso® is injecting hope into the lives of some of rooibos’ original custodians with their subsistence farming project, Seeds of Hope, which they launched in 2014. Unchanged for centuries, the whitewashed mission villages of the upper Cederberg had become some of the poorest and most isolated communities in South Africa. But with the help of red espresso® their destiny has been forever changed.

Rooibos courses through the veins of these subsistence farmers who have grown the hardy shrub for generations. By assisting them with seed, transport, ploughing equipment and agricultural know-how, red espresso® has drastically improved both their production capabilities and their route to market. 

“At the end of the production cycle, we guarantee these farmers a consistent, premium price regardless of supply or market trends. The cash injection is unprecedented in the area. One farmer has upgraded his donkey cart to a Hilux; others have opened bank accounts for the first time ever. The number of farmers participating in the program has increased exponentially with every passing year and today we work with more than 20 subsistence farmers” says Pete Ethelston.

For decades these communities have been priced out of the modern world. The high cost of seed, transport and ploughing equipment and the reluctance of the marketplace to pay top dollar for premium quality tea, caused youngsters to seek work elsewhere and the older generation to twiddle their thumbs. Seeds of Hope is giving pride and purpose to these true custodians of rooibos.

Watch this video and walk through the tea lands during harvest with Pete Ethelston and Barend Ockhuis, one of the first subsistence farmers to join the Seeds of Hope project.

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Will COVID-19 see the end of the barista profession?

Friday, 24 July, 2020

Well, we certainly bloody hope not! But the piece below really made us think and reflect on what's happening out there. 

In May we added a COVID-19 section to our Barista Wag Calculator questionnaire and from that only 11% of baristas have retained their jobs in a full time and full pay capacity. That leaves 89% of baristas going through a huge disruption to their income or in the case of 35%, they've completely lost their jobs.

We will do our utmost to support baristas moving forward, but in the meantime businesses around the country are trying to find creative solutions to keep their troops caffeinated in the safest way possible.

The Barista – a dying profession?

The coffee space has been booming for the last few years as coffee culture takes hold within South African life. Sadly, COVID-19 has had a profound impact on an industry that was once deemed bulletproof. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their safety and so it’s only natural for their preferences to change.

But what does that mean for the barista? A large part of the experience is the human element. If you’re a regular at your local coffee spot, it’s likely that your barista not only knows you by name but also knows how you drink your coffee.

“The barista, or the magician, as we like to call them, is the face of coffee,” explains Stacey Moss, Managing Director of Avanti Coffee Company. “There is so much more to a barista than just the technical skills. Consumers love coffee, but they love the experience more. A barista indulges the senses of the end user through sight, taste, touch, smell and sound.”

A good barista is knowledgeable about the coffee they’re serving and understands the complexities behind it. They use this information to engage with the consumer and use it as a tool to up-sell and encourage them to buy additional products or try different blends.

“Local coffee shops and restaurants rely on their barista to provide the best cup of coffee and so even though occupancy in these establishments is not nearly where it should be as a result of COVID, the job of the barista in this industry remains safe,” Moss adds.

Baristas at office coffee shops on the other hand are worse affected. “Companies, small and large are continuing to reduce the number of staff that physically have to go into the office and so the need for coffee spots in these spaces is becoming increasingly less.”

Moss believes that because of this, we will start to see an even bigger uptake in automated coffee solutions. “I think work environments were always going to move in this direction but, COVID has certainly accelerated the shift towards low touch economy solutions. With safety of employees being the number one priority, I imagine that automatic vending solutions using app based technology will become more popular than ever before.”

“Not only is this perceived as the safer solution, but it’s also seen as a means to cut costs. If businesses go in this direction, it eliminates the need to pay someone to operate the equipment, as well as potentially reduces wastage. With that said, the product received is important but, how the customer feels receiving it is far more significant. Which to me, highlights that there is still a need for the barista.”

Magical coffee is an artisanal craft and it’s the barista that adds to the overall experience. “Unfortunately, it’s an underrated occupation but, we have always viewed it as a superstar profession, one that creates employment opportunities while bringing that special touch to the paying customer. Without the barista we would be drinking average coffee and learning a lot less about the story behind each cup,” concludes Moss.

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Special Edition DGC Box: A Shot in the Dark Top 6!

Friday, 17 July, 2020

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Cafe Focus: Home of the Bean

Tuesday, 14 July, 2020

This beautiful cafe in Maboneng is a community favourite! We caught up with them to learn a bit more about this dynamic team. Say hello to Home of The Bean!

What was it like putting together your beautiful cafe?

It was exciting. We've had designs in mind for a while but had to work around the budget so we took a little bit of this and a little of that. Our space is quite small but we made the most out of it, we've kept it minimal and homey. Our most unique pieces we had made and love are the counter and our coffee table. When we started our intention was having art rotate on our walls to have different pieces at a time giving the space a unique feel each time someone walked in. It's definitely still a work in progress and always looking to remove what no longer fits and adding something new. 

Who are the key players in your team? And can you tell us a little about each of them.

We have 3 Baristas: Katlego Panama, Tshepiso Matotola, and Katlego Modise. They are an amazing team, they keep the train moving. You walk in and you're guaranteed warmth and a vibe, always ready to serve and to make sure everyone gets their fix just the way they like it. With a smile. Katlego P (an interior designer at heart) is our manager at the Maboneng shop, very welcoming, loves to engage with people, and also the guy responsible for the great jams you hear at the shop. Katlego M (an amazing graphic design and accountant) who works with Kat M, welcomes you with a smile, loves his coffee, plants and mostly in his Sunday best. Tshepiso is our most humblest yet observant player always early to make sure the machine is set before any orders. He is managing the Newtown Office kiosk and doing great at it. 

What is the ethos of your business?

We love our community and the people in it and have dedicated and committed our hearts to reaching out and stretching our hands to the service of others. Helping people, inspiring people and giving them a place or sense of belonging is core aim of our business. In any way we can we want to help, even if it means doing it through or over a cup of coffee, one bean at a time. We are a Home and all our people are family

Tell us what makes your space special to you?

The people and the coffee. How it has become a connecting spot for people from all spheres. It has become a help for young creators to meet and connect. Allows us to recognize upcoming creatives, for one our walls are open for rising artists to hang some art they're selling. It's the creation of community and a helping hand.

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

To be part of one of the most loved beverages in world is crazy amazing. 

The community that exists between the owners of different cafes is inspiring, everyone going in one direction but in their own way. We found the community welcoming and willing to share information, experiences and advice. Everyone's drive makes you want to strive even more and push harder. There's always something to learn. 

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

They are important because as a business you have a minimum target per day you need to reach. Regulars make it possible for one to help meet that target and sometimes exceed it. Most importantly we get to build a relationship, again back to community which is what coffee is. We get to share deeper conversations, the highs and the lows. They are our special people of the day that keep our flame lit, we appreciate them. 

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

We have a signature treat and a fave sandwich. Our Brownies are our signature treat, soft and heart warming. Our toasted biltong-Avo sandwich is also a fave. 

How can people get coffee from you during this time? 

We are open during level 3 for deliveries and collections around Maboneng. We also allow only a few sitting customers. Observing all guidelines :all customers with masks, we have sanitizers at our entry point and clean the tables after every customer. All baristas behind the machines with their masks on and gloves available for handling orders. 

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

We have learned that there is so much to be Greatful for because one moment you have this and the next you may not. Living in the present has seemed to be all we have and helps to reduce pressure and stress. We've learned that there is a lot of good out there, seeing people come together to lend a helping hand, we have experienced this first hand. We can't thank our family (customers) enough for their continued support, it's been so overwhelming.

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

It is a tough season but let's work together through this season. Let's adhere to the guidelines, protect ourselves and others by wearing masks, washing of hands and not forgetting to be kind. We all have something we can give to those who are not coping or less fortunate, so let's lend a helping hand. Find out how you can help small businesses, whether by donating, ordering online, or even checking up on them. A little goes a long way and it will take all of us to fight this. We may never be the same but we will overcome. 

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New Kid on the Block: A secret treat in the Tokai forest

Friday, 17 July, 2020

With sitting inside cafes a little bit iffy at the moment in the current COVID way of life, we've never appreciated the safety of wide open spaces more and when we can get great coffee in the great outdoors, all the better!

At the edge of the Tokai forest, one such oasis has appeared. The beautiful Deluxe Coffeeworks trailer has found a temporary-permanent home while The Secret Forest Cafe puts down roots.

After the wild, stormy weather of the last few weeks, don't you just feel like you need to get out there?!

With freshly baked croissants every morning and incredible Deluxe coffee in the hopper, how can you go wrong? Go get active in the crisp, Winter air and explore the forest with some deliciousness in hand. PS. All furry friends are welcome, yay!

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WIN a Weekend for 2 at a Luxury Game Reserve Valued at R30,000

Thursday, 9 July, 2020

One of Coffee Magazine's advertising Partners, Cape Cup have brought out a really cool new B2B portal for the Food & Beverage industry called Bio-Africa and to launch the website they are running an incredible competition! 

All you need to do to enter is fill in the entry form here and cross your fingers ;) Head on over to their website and see all they have to offer while you're there!

The competition is a chance to win a luxury weekend away for two people at Botlierskop Game Reserve The prize includes flights in South Africa, Stay in Luxury Tented Suite, All Meals, All Drinks + Alcoholic Drinks*, Spa Treatment, Game Drives, Bush Walks, Horseback Safaris, Tennis, Canoeing and Fishing (Terms & Conditions apply).

Just 4.5 hours’ drive from Cape Town, it’s midway between Mossel Bay and George, on South Africa’s scenic Garden Route. Come and share the bounty and breathtaking beauty this 4,200 hectare reserve has to offer. Botlierskop Game Reserve will ensure you enjoy a uniquely South African Safari Experience, with a range of luxury accommodation from sumptuous tented lodges and stately manor suites to spectacular, self-catering villas and an entire village built with children in mind. This gracious family-owned and privately-operated game reserve is malaria-free and home to four of the Big 5 (lion, elephant, buffalo and rhino) as well as a host of antelope, including rare black impala, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, hippo and more. Spend a memorable day – or come and stay. Day visitors are as welcome as overnight guests at Botlierskop with a range of activities from safari game drives, horseback safaris, pampering spa therapies, restaurant options, children’s activities, spacious decks and swimming pools, there truly is something for everyone. All this and a very warm welcome awaits you. 

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