Cafe Focus: Good Riddance, Kommetjie

Friday, 11 March, 2022

Good Riddance Coffee Co.
12 Huskisson Way, Kommetjie, Western Cape

All images from their lovely Instagram page, go give them a follow for calm coffee vibes!

Tell us about the evolution into Good Riddance and what that name means to you? 

From a perplexing dream-like creative state during lockdown, a list of 11 potential brand names found their way onto a page. I looked long and hard at each one with my mind exploding at the possibilities for each. Good Riddance took the win because after discovering the origin of the phrase was from a Shakespeare play, there was a synergy between how we came to define the phrase and what was happening in our lives at the time. My mom and I both share a love for Shakespeare. Whilst I have been in CT for a number of years, my mum finally decided to make some courageous changes by moving to a laid back baboon ridden Kommetjie from a corporate-torn JHB to help me run the shop. A friend and local Kommetjie babe designed a brand that helped me soften the negative connotation of the phrase and give it that 70s Lords of Dogtown vibe. The epitome of what Kom was to me growing up. 

Who are the people behind the business and who are the people behind the bar?  Business: Dominique (Me) Owner Ann (Mom Co-Owner & Accountant)

Bar: Managing/FOH : Dominique (me); Head barista: Shepherd ; Baristas : Sam, RayRay, Zoe, Gaberiel; Kitchen & Waitressing: Emma, Patricia, Chrissie, Violet. 

Your cafe oozes calm vibes and fun times. What was your inspiration for the aesthetic and how did you set about making it a reality? 

It was a strange time to be opening a coffee shop (Lockdown and all) so I wanted the space to be as light and  free as possible. It needed to feel safe and relaxed. Like you were hanging out at a friend’s place. The team behind creating the physical space at Good Riddance were exceptional in their own right. Each person was vital to the look and feel of the place. We had a crazy three week renovation time frame and sometimes I’m still pretty blown away at what we achieved. 

What coffee do you serve at the cafe? Do you roast your own or who is your supporting roaster? 

We serve a beautiful medium roast Guatemala & El Salvador blend. Our decaf is Peruvian, also Medium roast. Our Roaster is: Blue Door Coffee (Simon’s Town)

What is your favourite part about running a cafe in Kommetjie? 

My late grand-father’s ashes are buried at the local chapel in Kommetjie. He dreamed of returning back to CT after his path had steered him North for a while. My grand-mother now lives in the quaint little house he bought many years ago and running a coffee shop here now feels a lot like I’m on the dream tour! The community has been absolutely amazing in supporting our little family-run business and it really is their coffee shop. Not mine. They are what gives it light and to be an important part of people’s daily routines is a feeling of immense gratitude that is difficult to convey. We love the 783 and everything it stands for. 

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Meet Carol Corlett. She imports green coffee. She has a Black Belt in karate. She is awesome.

Friday, 11 March, 2022

This week was International Woman's Day and we couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than highlighting on of the most respected women in South African (and beyond!) coffee, Carol Corlett.

Interview with Carol Corlett

Carol Corlett is at the helm of local coffee importing and distribution business, Sevenoaks Trading. The importing and transportation of this valuable commodity is a complicated process, so we thought we would shed some light on one of the companies that makes this happen from all the coffee growing countries to South Africa.We have been lucky enough to work with Carol and her team through the years and it never ceases to amaze us just how big the operation is. Walking into the warehouse is a jaw-dropping experience, 60kg hessian coffee bags stacked high, tonnes of coffees from all over the world all in one place, ready to go to roasters big and small around South Africa. Carol’s experience has been gained through her unending curiosity and years of hard work. She is an inspiring figure in the coffee community and has so many stories to tell. We asked her to give us some insight on what her the team do to get the good stuff to your cups!

How did you get into the coffee business and how did Sevenoaks get its start?

I have an accounts background - I did my BCom degree and articles, and then did some auditing as an international treasury auditor. From there I joined WM Cahn as bookkeeper/accountant. I worked with Trefor Evans (who sadly passed away a few years ago), the financial director at that stage, and David Wishart, the MD. They are the most amazing people, and I shall always be grateful to them for giving me that opportunity. I was very happy, but I started getting curious about coffee and eventually took a trip with Konrad Brits to Zimbabwe to meet the farmers I had been dealing with for a long time. I met Jeremy Wakeford, an internationally recognised green coffee consultant, who is my absolute coffee idol, my mentor and the one person who must have taught me the most about coffee, as well as about life and business. From there on it was a quite a whirlwind! Konrad started Sevenoaks Trading in June 1999 and I joined him in September 1999. That’s how our journey began.

Can you give us a bit of insight into who the major players were in the beginning and what the market looked like back then?

It looked a lot different from what it is now. Back in those days you had to bring a full container of coffee into South Africa, either directly from origin or a full container with mixed origins from Europe. With those limitations there was no way the smaller importers or roasters could afford to bring in coffee for themselves. They had to try and import small quantities (at really high prices) themselves or buy from the bigger players like Ciro, Nestle and House of Coffees, these were the really big roasters who could bring in containers. The medium-sized roasters used to bring in mixed containers from Europe.  In my first year of running Sevenoaks Trading, I was happy when I sold a full container per month, which was the equivalent of about 18 tonnes. I was selling to about 15 roasters, mostly medium to bigger sized roasters. The main reason for starting Sevenoaks was to bring the opportunity to the smaller roasters to buy 1 bag, 2 bags, 10 bags or 100 bags. The guys who were bringing in mixed containers which lasted three months decided it was better on their cash flow to just buy one month’s supply from us, as and when they needed it. This was a new concept, but it opened up the market to the smaller roasters.  

What is the market like today compared to what it was when you began? 

Obviously the change has been phenomenal. SA was way behind and we had no real coffee culture, but I think in the past 20 years we have moved forward in leaps and bounds. Even though we follow the US and European trends, we have also figured out our own unique coffee culture truly South African and the community that I have been a part of has become like a second family. For many years I was on the board of the Speciality Coffee Association of Southern Africa (SCASA) and helped with Barista competitions. If I think back to the very first competition we had in Cape Town, it’s almost unbelievable to see where we are today. The highlight of that first competition was George Bertolis nearly killing the judges with his Cinnamon signature drink, let’s just say he may have overdone the cinnamon!!! What stands out to me now is when new roasters start exploring the world of coffee and find out how much more is involved and how intricate coffee really is. The wonderful thing is that I have made true friends – too many to mention – and I could never do anything else than trade/drink/live coffee.

Have you seen an increase in speciality demand and consumption?

The market is always hungry for more and in the coffee industry “more” is represented by the demand for speciality (coffee that scores above 80 points on the grading system). As the roasters and coffee connoisseurs are learning and evolving, so are their clientele, always looking for the next “best” coffee. So the demand is there, but it still doesn’t supersede a good, solid, commercial grade coffee. So in essence I would say it’s an evolving niche market. But you never know how big it may become. We focus on having something for everyone. And nowadays it’s quite an art with the challenges of climate change, sustainability for farmers and selecting the right crops at the right time to ensure they arrive at our warehouse in time to replace the previous crop. It’s quite the balancing act.

What does an average day in the life of a green coffee importer look like? Can you give us some insight into just how many logistics go into getting green coffee into your warehouse from around the coffee growing world? (We are always trying to keep consumers educated and understand why the coffees they are buying cost what they do and should be cherished) I think it is important (and interesting) for people to know exactly how their coffee gets here.

We are part of a group called CTCS (Continental Trade and Commodity Services), based in Sevenoaks, Kent in the UK. Our main aim is to supply the South African market with coffee, both commercial as well as premium lots. We offer advice with regard to blends and cup profiles and host The Basic Green Bean Course to educate the coffee roasters/suppliers in SA. We have teamed up with Donovan McLagan and together we host the SCA Roasting course in Johannesburg and Cape Town. There’s a lot of planning that goes into ensuring that we always have enough stock. Our Coffee Trader, Paul Cooke, who has over 30 years of experience, is situated in the UK and we are in constant communication with him, discussing stock levels, future crops and pricing. As everyone knows, coffee prices are based on the New York Futures exchange and then if you are in SA, the other variable is the $/R exchange rate. There is a lot to consider. Over the years we realised that managing our own warehouse makes our lives a lot easier, but we also outgrew the space we had and in 2016 we moved to our current premises. In 2019 we opened a warehouse in Cape Town to service our ever-growing customer base in the Cape more efficiently.

Basically what we need to do on a daily basis is asses our stock level and predict what we need in the coming months. With Covid appearing, all our forward planning flew out the window and worldwide shipping issues and delays have caused chaos to our planning and timelines, but we’ve overcome many hurdles over the years and we’ll manage this as well.

How many tonnes of coffee are we talking here? On a monthly basis for example?

Let’s just say from when we began almost 22 years ago we have grown annually! We did start off with 15 customers and about 18 tonnes a month. We currently have an incredible variety of customers, some of them buying 5kg a month and some buying 5000kg a month. Our mantra at Sevenoaks is that we treat every customer who purchases from us as if they are our most important customer, and we pride ourselves in going the extra mile for them.

How have you and Sevenoaks as a whole adapted to the Direct Trade model employed by an increasing number of modern specialty roasters? Has travelling to origin become more of a priority over the years? Or has it just become more of a priority for roasters, but has always been a priority from your side?

Sevenoaks was actually started on a direct trade model, selling Zambian and Zimbabwean farmer’s coffee in South Africa as well as for export. We had transparent transactions, where farmers received a percentage of what we could end up selling the coffee for. What was great about this model is that risk was shared. Over the years we have fostered many relationships with farmers, producers and exporters in producing countries, and have used various trade models to supply the demand in the local roasting industry. There is definitely a growing demand for direct trade, but I don’t think a lot of guys know that it does come at an increased cost and some risk. CTCS has an office in Tanzania, so we have been visiting and doing a lot more direct work in that country, and have most recently been building washing stations in the Tarime area. We also had the privilege of going on a Central American trip in 2018, and we got to visit many of the farms and mills that we have been buying from for many years. When you have great partners on the ground in origin countries trips out there aren’t as necessary, but when you do get the opportunity then it is definitely worth going.

You must have some crazy stories from your vantage point in the coffee value chain, can you tell us one or two? 

So many stories to tell, but I’ll not bore you with the details. What I can say is that it’s not the best idea to travel with me. I have a reputation of getting stuck, lost or broken down. We ended up getting lost in Rwanda, after being told we had to make it to our destination before nightfall. In the end we arrived after midnight covered in mud as we had to get out and push (we got stuck as well). Adele and I broke down in Malawi and that was after we had to spend a few days extra as rains had flooded the area and we could not get out. Our rescuers came in a truck that transported tea and I think the driver was a Formula 1 wannabe as he towed us up a mountain at 120km/h…..or that’s at least what it felt like!!! I can go on and on, but yes I am an expert at getting out of sticky situations. Just another day in Africa I guess.

What skill set or qualifications do you need to be in the green coffee business? Part Finance, part sociology, part anthropologist, part philanthropist, part Q-grader? We’re just guessing!  

Haha, all of the above and more, BUT that is why we have put the team together that we now have. In the beginning it was easy to manage everything, but then you realise to grow you need hand over to experts in their area. There are so many angles to consider in this business, and it’s best to have the right folks in the right areas, flourishing in their strengths. Some of the staff members, Adele de Villiers and Nicky Williamson have been here since 2006 and from there we built the business by finding the fabulous team that we now have. Tess Schmidt runs our Cape Town office and one less headache for me as she’s such an incredible lady. Without the team we have, Sevenoaks would have still been the small, 18 ton a month business it was in 1999.

You have a coffee farm named after you?! Please may you tell us the story of your namesake farm.

Well, not a whole farm, but a lot on a farm. This is probably one of the most special moments in my coffee career. I started talking to Ramiro Ortiz about two years before I actually met him. He came to Cape Town for a business course and stayed on one of the wine estates. We started talking and he went around to some of the roasters with his samples. But most people didn’t know who he was and were quite dismissive of him at that stage. But he left his samples and started talking to me, and we built up an amazing relationship across the miles. Then two years later, maybe even three, I went on a trip of a lifetime. I’d been waiting to visit Central America for almost nineteen years. A group of us went- our Director Tom Snoek, our trader Paul Cooke, Adele de Villiers, myself and some of our customers. We left for Central America and visited Costa Rica, Guatemala and eventually Nicaragua. So I finally met the man I’d been speaking to for so long and he is unbelievable. Ramiro is the most coffee obsessed person I know. He doesn’t stop, he doesn’t stop trying to improve, he doesn’t stop putting in the effort, he doesn’t stop caring about his farmers and their families and making things better for them and the plantations. He puts in every single minute of the day to be better, he’s got such energy and passion.

We visited a few the farms over the next three days and then on the last day we were brought to Rajuanse. All the coffee is marked off into lots, and there was a big sign board put up that was still covered. He called everyone together and introduced me to one of his workers who manages this plot. Then he asked me to pull down the cover, and there was the sign ‘Lady Carol’. That I didn’t break down in tears was a miracle, but it touched my heart more than anything else in the world. I feel so privileged and will cherish this day forever. Each year I get the coffee milled from this plot and it’s called Lady Carol and it’s packed specially and the most amazing things have been done with this coffee. Arabikaz in Hermanus has sold it to get some funds together for amazing charities, they’ve done such good things with this coffee. 

Work aside, we’d love our readers to get to know you a bit more.

It’s very difficult for me to say things about myself, but I’m not the average, sit behind the desk coffee person. I am very energetic, I’m very adventurous, I love a challenge. I told someone the other day that we need to do something every now and then that scares us. That’s my motto, to keep on challenging myself and keep on doing things that scare me. I’ve managed, with the relationships I’ve formed within the coffee industry, to have the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. This was one of the most amazing moments and we formed such a strong bond in those difficult circumstances with the people we were with during this experience that I doubt it will ever be broken. 

Where is your favourite destination to take your vintage, green Landrover?

I actually had another Landrover before this one, it was kitted out with every single gadget you can think of, and I set out on a solo trip through Botswana and Namibia in 2011 for a few weeks. I did about 5000km by myself and it was one of the most fantastic times of my life. I fell in love with Namibia, I’ve been back once since then but I’d love to go back again. The wide open spaces, the remote beauty of it is just unbelievable, the desert is a very stark reality. No coffee trees of course but it was quite amazing.

You were recently awarded your Black Belt in karate. Please can you tell us a little about this journey with martial arts and how it influences your day to day life?

I started karate 20 years ago last year, I trained for 10years, but due to unforeseen circumstances I had to stop. Ten years later I decided to revive my passion for karate in 2020 and didn’t know Covid was going to mess with all my plans. So that was quite a disaster after only two months, we did most of our training online which was not easy, but we did eventually get back to the Dojo. I decided to take my karate very seriously. It means a lot to me although it does still scare me every time I go, as it’s not an easy sport. I actually told someone it’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. It doesn’t only require physical strength but mental tenacity too- you have to prepare, you have to train, you have to think. It’s made me a stronger person, it’s made me a more dedicated person and it’s given me more confidence!

Last year on the 12th of December I passed my grading it was one of the proudest moments. I still train four times a week. It keeps me fit, it keeps me strong, keeps me healthy, keeps me focused and keeps me motivated.  They say you will never ever know everything about karate, and I know I only know a portion of it, but I’ve made so many friends and I’ll probably do it until the day I fall over and can’t anymore. 

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Cafe Focus: Art + Coffee = The Ladder

Thursday, 3 March, 2022

All images used with permission from The Ladder on Instagram, give them a follow for beautiful pics and tips on up and coming local artists!

Who are the humans behind The Ladder? And how did this beautiful space become a reality?

The Ladder was founded  by husband and wife duo,  Nicholas and Anastasia Esterhuizen, who are both artists. Our story started with the cute little building on 136 Bree street, which caught our immediate attention and later on became a  perfect home for our cafe and an art centre. We started slow, selling just coffees and pastries and after a lockdown (when we operated as a deli, selling locally sourced goods) organically developed into a neighborhood cafe, offering breakfast and lunch. The Ladder always was about art and creativity so we offer various creative weekday evening workshops as well as morning and afternoon weekend classes.  

 

How do you curate the amazing artists that feature on your walls?

Our goal as a creative space is to give local emerging artists a chance  to exhibit and meet  with their audience . Anastasia, who is responsible for the artistic part of our business, is always on a look out for interesting and original art and we mainly find our exhibitors via Instagram. 

As our space has certain aesthetics (warm, neutral tones and rustic feel) we try to compliment it with the art that matches 

Currently we are exhibiting a group show called Love is a place by artist Pia Truscott and Lily Waterkeyn    

You also encourage us average humans to get involved in creativity and crafts by hosting workshops, can you tell us bit about what people can look forward to?

At The Ladder we host various arts and crafts workshops, from watercolour and wine classes, to fun painting with coffee events, illustration workshops and punch needle parties. Every second Tuesday of the month we host Cape town Life drawing club and every second  Wednesday  Cape town Craft club. Visit our website for the monthly schedule or check out our stories and posts on Instagram.

This month we are hosting a "Paint with coffee" workshop by fine artist Danielle Jordaan and this workshop represents  everything we love - coffee and art.  You can still book a spot via her e-mail: daniellejordaanart@gmail.com

What coffee brand do you use to make the delicious coffees for your customers? And why did you choose this particular coffee?

We are using Blue Door coffee roastery, small independent roastery based in Simonstown. We have been their customers for quite a few years before they became our coffee suppliers, so we knew their coffee well. Dewald and Rob are extremely attentive to each detail of the roasting process so we know that we will receive consistently good coffee beans.  

The handmade ceramics as vessels are beautiful! Were they a commission or how can our readers get their hands on some?

We are working with a few local potters, who make cups for us. Our main sandy flat white and cappuccino cups were commissioned from The Pot Spot studio in Kalk bay owned by Tessa Gawith. Our beautiful organically shaped latte bowls were made by Therle Anthea (Therle Chaston) ceramics in Kommetje.

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Wellness: The benefits of a daily dose of rooibos

Friday, 4 March, 2022

Whether you’re a coffee drinker looking to cut down on caffeine, pregnant and don’t want to give up your favourite cappuccino, or conscious about living a healthier life, red espresso® Rooibos is an easy, delicious way to add colour and health to your day. Here’s why...

Naturally caffeine-free

red espresso® Rooibos is 100% pure Rooibos tea specially ground for use on coffee appliances to make a range of café-style Rooibos drinks, just like coffee.

Naturally caffeine-free and sugar free, it is a great alternative to coffee and sugar based drinks like hot chocolate. Perfect for the whole family to enjoy, anytime of the day or night.

Unlike black and green teas, Rooibos is, in the strictest sense, not a tea but a tisane (herbal tea) and is naturally caffeine free (not decaffeinated). This means it is safe and healthy for children, babies, pregnant and breast-feeding moms to enjoy too – and makes red espresso® Rooibos a suitable and excellent choice for anyone looking to avoid or cut out caffeine.

According to research, a few major benefits of avoiding caffeine include:

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Reducing the risk of cardiac events
  • Increasing the quality of your sleep
  • Enhancing better moods (no crashes in the afternoon)
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Fewer headaches
  • Reducing work stress

In fact, red espresso® Rooibos is known to have the opposite effect to caffeine: It contains powerful antioxidants that help to calm the central nervous system – helping you to relax and also to ensure a good night’s sleep – as well as soothing headaches, hypertension and irritability and improving concentration.

5 x more antioxidants than green tea

Antioxidants help fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are natural by-products of oxidation (when oxygen interacts with certain molecules) in the body but they are also triggered by factors including incorrect diet, pollution, exposure to chemicals, smoking and stress. Antioxidants are measured in ORAC’s (Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity) and their ORAC value is a single number that reflects a food’s ability to reduce free radicals in the body. 

red espresso® Rooibos meets a significant part of the ideal ORAC requirement for your day – with 4720 protective ORACS per 60ml double shot. As researched by the Antioxidant Research Unit at INFRUITEC, one 60ml shot of red espresso® Rooibos has the same amount of antioxidants as 5 cups of green tea, 1 cup of blueberries, 6 cups of beetroot juice or 20 cups of carrot juice. It also has 10 X more antioxidants than traditionally brewed Rooibos tea (per ORAC measurements).

10 x more antioxidants than regular Rooibos tea

red espresso® Rooibos is an antioxidant powerhouse. Because of its finer cut and espresso method of preparation, scientific tests have proven that red espresso®s Rooibos has 10 times more antioxidants than traditionally-brewed rooibos tea. This means that, in addition to its taste, the health benefits of rooibos are concentrated tenfold in red espresso® – making it the healthiest, most powerful rooibos tea available.

Containing 10 x more of the powerful antioxidant Aspalathin – found only in Rooibos – and flavonoids including a mimic of the super antioxidant enzyme Super-Oxide Dismutase (SOD), red espresso® Rooibos has a range of powerful health benefits.

  • Boosting your immune system
  • Protecting your heart
  • Age-defying
  • Detoxing
  • Protecting your cells against diseases like cancer
  • Helps soothe headaches
  • Has a relaxing effect on the central nervous system
  • Has antispasmodic properties and alleviates insomnia and irritability
  • Acts as a digestive aid
  • Helps with the relief of stomach cramps, ulcers, nausea, heartburn and constipation
  • Has antiallergenic and anti-asthmatic properties. It is believed to be helpful in the management of hay fever and eczema
  • Helps to calm infants and eases colic in babies

A shot a day may just help keep the doctor away. And you can do it in effortless, delicious style.

A potent immune system booster

Over the years, extensive research has indicated that Rooibos is believed to be a potent immune system booster with:

  • anti-viral
  • anti-carcinogenic and
  • anti-aging properties

Naturally sweet without the sugar
Rooibos is inherently sweet, low in calories, and can be enjoyed without sugar – making it an ideal choice for diabetics or people on calorie-restricted diets.

Low in tannin
Rooibos has low tannin content, so is not bitter-tasting like other teas. It also means that absorption of iron and proteins into the body is less affected, making it particularly good for pregnant women and people who are anaemic.

No oxalic acid
Rooibos contains no oxalic acid (a toxic acid found in certain plants) and is therefore a good choice for those prone to kidney stones.

A great fluid replacement
Rooibos is a non-diuretic, i.e. a fluid replacement, so there is no limit to how much you can have in a day.

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.

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Coming Out Swinging: The Boxer Coffee

Friday, 25 February, 2022

There’s more to The Boxer than knock-out coffee. At the small Cape Town based coffee shop’s heart lies a truly inspiring story of courage in the face of adversity and the perseverance to keep following your dreams no matter what.

Words by Annette Klinger

Images by Jan Ras


Every Wednesday afternoon at 4pm, George Tamfuri locks up The Boxer. Joined by three employees, the team walks about 100 metres across the sprawling business park where the coffee shop is situated to the roasting room. It’s an unassuming space, except for a hulking cast iron coffee roaster named Tyson standing in one half of the room, and an Everlast punching bag dangling from the ceiling in the other. 

For the next half an hour, George heads up a very unique team-building session, teaching his employees the fine art of boxing: footwork, balance and, of course, perfecting their one-two jabs and uppercuts. Most importantly, he drives home the sport’s principles, as they were instilled in him by his childhood coach. “Boxing isn’t about fighting people, it’s about treating people with love, compassion and respect,” says George, who took up the sport as a seventeen-year-old in his home town of Lubumbashi in the DRC. 

“There was a bully at school and every day, you just knew he’d want something, whether it was your lunch or money,” he continues. “Eventually my father told me that I had to end this thing and suggested I start boxing like him and my uncle.” 

The ending of the bullying saga isn’t as predictable as you might think. Yes, George successfully defended himself and the bully backed off from him and his friends, but George also ended up talking to him, getting to know him, and ultimately becoming one of his best friends. 

When George was at university, tragedy befell his family. George’s father, a prominent politician, spoke out against the president of the time; an action which ended up endangering the entire Tamfuri family. George’s mother was unlawfully detained for two weeks and his brother, also a politician in the opposing party, was assassinated. The family fled to the UK, where they applied for political asylum, but George had to stay behind in the DRC due to issues obtaining a residency permit. “I had a friend who lived in Johannesburg and owned a big gym,” says George.  “He convinced me to come and work for him as a boxing trainer, but once I arrived, it soon became clear that it wasn’t going to work out.” Finding himself at a dead end in a foreign country with no money, George met a Congolese congregant through a local church who said that there might be more opportunities in Cape Town. 

Sure enough, once he arrived in the Mother City, his luck slowly started to change. “I had space to sleep at the church and soon got a job as a security guard at an apartment block in Sea Point, right next to the sea,” recalls George. “I befriended one of the residents, who learnt my story and offered to pay for me to train as a barista.”

A whole new world opened up for George when he walked through the doors of Origin Roastery in Green Point - one of the first artisan coffee roasters in the country. Up until then, his only association with coffee had been the memory of childhood December holidays spent with his grandfather, who preferred his coffee beans roasted an almost pitch black.

Legendary barista José Vilandy took George under his wing, teaching him all the intricacies of making the perfect cup of coffee: getting the grind size just right (too big or small, and the grounds won’t saturate the hot water properly), pulling the perfect shot (it should take five seconds before the espresso emerges from the portafilter) and finally, heating milk to exactly 60 celsius (too cold and your cup will taste insipid; too hot and it will burn the coffee).

The initial learning curve was steep, not to mention exhausting, since George was still working the night shift from 6pm to 6am and would have to clock in at barista school again at 7am. “As soon as I got my first barista job, I quit the security company,” laughs George.  

Over the next eight years, George put in the hours at some of the best coffee shops and roasteries in Cape Town, including Kamili and Deluxe, slowly but surely making a name for himself and expanding his skill set to include roasting and blending beans.

While George maintains that The Boxer was established in 1985 (“Your story doesn’t start the day of your success, it starts the day you were born,” he says), it found its first brick and mortar home this year, with the help of his long-time-customer-turned-business-partner Dewald Müller. They knew from the outset that The Boxer was going to be the kind of establishment where customers didn’t have to know their cortados from their lungos, but merely had to answer the question: “How do you take your coffee?” Thus, they can choose between a dark roast, a medium roast and a decaf roast. That said, should devout coffee nerds make the pilgrimage, George is more than happy to enthrall them with everything from the beans’ origins to how he coaxes out their unique flavour profiles during the roasting process.

The coffee shop’s aesthetic is accordingly unfussy, yet contemporary cool. Perched at a jaunty angle at the entrance of a new business development in the industrial area of the Cape Town suburb of Brackenfell, the diminutive hatch-doored spot is adorned in accents of black, white and warm woods, and features a red chalk-board menu wall. The axle around which the whole operation turns is a gleaming Wega Atlas espresso machine, from which George and his colleagues pull the perfect flat whites, day in and day out. He describes his dark roast, which is a blend of Colombian and Guatemalan beans, as chocolatey and smooth, while the medium blend, which is composed of Ugandan and Costa Rican beans, offers coffee lovers an earthier, slightly more acidic cup.

The Boxer is so much more than a space serving consistently good coffee, though. It’s a place where you’re warmly welcomed and asked about your day. “Asking such a simple question is a way of making people feel like human beings, not just customers,” says George. “For me, it’s not just about making coffee. It’s about loving people.” 

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The Coffee Events Calendar

Thursday, 24 February, 2022

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How to Picopresso: The Hand Powered Portable Espresso Machine!

Friday, 18 February, 2022

Ah to travel!  Well, to travel again, I should say.

It has been 3 long years since Coffee Magazine took the skies on official Coffee Business and finally, here we are in the ultra-modern city of Dubai! (We will reveal all in another post soon, as we have some incredibly exciting news to share from this visit, but this post is about getting decent coffee on the run!)

We always travel with fresh coffee, a hand grinder and a brewing gadget. The last time we traveled Internationally was to Boston in 2019 for WBC - and on that trip we used the Nanopresso from Wacaco - (We also took it to the beach!  - see that post here) and on this trip we took the new Portable espresso device from Wacaco - the Big Brother to the Nanopresso, aptly named the Picopresso! 

Here's how to use it and what we thought:

This is the basic set - it also comes in a beautiful leather carry pouch (see the video!)

The grind size is espresso, so very fine, and the grounds go into the basket which holds about 16-18 grams (enough for a double!).

Give the grounds a little tamp to compact the coffee and to smooth the surface, to make it ready for the water and the pressure.

The basket fits into the bottom compartment, which has this really cool grip etched around the base for easy turning.

Next goes on the shower screen - this is really innovative as it ensures that the water, under pressure, is evenly distributed across the grounds for even extraction!

This shows you the underneath of the Picopresso, where the espresso will come out. Neat and tidy and ergonomically ingenious.

Finally, we add the water to the top compartment...

...seal with the lid...

...and presso the Picopresso for your espresso!

The Picopresso gives a really great shot of espresso. It's easy to use, easy to clean and the parts are easy to handle, especially if you have big hands like mine!  I love the travel case and as you can see from the video, I prepared my Picopresso before leaving the hotel, so literally all I needed to do was add hot water and press! 

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The Climbing Goat, Nakheel Mall, Dubai

Thursday, 17 February, 2022

We have a long list of places to explore in Dubai, and we quickly realised that although the distances may be short, it is not very quick to get between places here in future land. But one of the first was The Climbing Goat. On the recommendation of an expat local we trust, we made the mission to the Nakheel Mall on the Jumeirah Palm, a feat of modern architecture and found this lovely spot.

The Roastery is inside the shop and it is beautifully adorned!

How beautiful is this presentation? We tried two coffees, one from Uganda and one from Colombia. 

Each beverage comes with an information card about the coffee, which is a great touch. This Colombian castillo was washed and roasted medium. It had such delicious flavours - vanilla, caramel and dark chocolate!

There is a lot on offer at The Climbing Goat! A store within a food market, within a mall, located on an island shaped like a Palm!

The view from the Monorail overlooking the Dubai Marina with the Ain Dubai (Eye of Dubai) in the background.

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