The story of the Golden Pipit and the God Shot

Friday, 5 February, 2021

Words by Iain Evans

Golden Pipit  (Tmetothylacus tenellus) : A distinctive pipit of dry country grassland, savanna and shrubland in eastern Africa. It is native to Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, and has occurred as a vagrant to Oman, South Africa and Zimbabwe.[1]

God shot: noun /  The perfect espresso shot. According to some it is the unreachable utopia, while others claim to be able to pull one or two for every hundred espressos they make.

It wasn’t your typical game drive in that we only had two other passengers in the open-top game vehicle.  The very polite German ladies in the back, Rafaela and Janine,  didn’t seem to mind that we continuously yelled to Trent, the Game Ranger, to stop the vehicle while we pointed out yet another tiny little bird flitting from bush to bush. And it was starting to rain. Which is uncommon, but welcome in Zululand at this time of year. It is safe to say, that over the years my interest in birding has grown and I am fully aware that it falls in the obscure in terms of hobbies, very much like an obsession with coffee. This label has failed to deter me from how it has changed any trip into any sort of wilderness into an adventure and similarly any new coffee experience into an adventure. So we kept our eyes peeled as this particular wilderness offered forth so many beautiful birds. Then it happened. 

“It’s a Yellow throated Longclaw”, Mel yelled pointing into the grassland. “No it isn’t, that bird is in a bush, not on the ground” I growled back in the heat of the moment. 

“There are two birds there!”  Trent intervened gracefully. And so there were, one easily identifiable as a yellow throated Longclaw because of its longish legs, slender body and the clear black marking around its yellow throat. Next to it, on a branch in a low bush, another bright yellow bird with what looked like a black ‘V’ on its chest. And so the debate about the Golden Pipit sighting ignited. And it didn’t stop, slowly engulfing everyone back at the lodge and even across the neighbouring game farms.

“The last time we had a Golden Pipit sighting here, we had people wanting to charter flights in from all corners of the country, in fact around the world” says Judy Veldman, our host at Bayala Lodge in Northern Zululand.

We had gone there to train the staff in basic coffee discourse, and now here we were  - caught in the mother of all seasonal storms and an even larger deluge on tiny birds with yellow and black markings. Like coffee people, birding people (or “Twitchers” as they are known) are very particular, bordering on obsessive.  The bush is a deeply sacred and precious resource that pretty much every South African intuitively understands and respects, yet everybody is on their own journey when it comes to what they enjoy about the bush, and similarly about the coffee they enjoy while in the bush.  

“Ten years ago this place was hunting lodge.” Says Bayala Head Ranger, Dave Fisher, “The brandy and coke brigade were a rough bunch but thankfully things are changing and we’re evolving along with the shift to eco-tourism” he says.  

Bayala was rated the highest 3-star accommodation in South Africa last year, and while the torrential rains bucket down across the thirsty Zululand veld, a fresh busload of Dutch tourists pile into the lodge, chattering away and snapping photos of the authentic African features while sipping on their welcome drinks. 

“If you want to be the best accommodation in your category, you have to serve the best food and the best coffee” says Dave.  At this moment, Phume, one of the service staff gets an order for a cappuccino. She’s punching buttons on the Jura machine and a few seconds later she serves he guest a typical layered cappuccino and chalks it up to the guests room number.  “We’re not there yet, but we want to be. We know how important it is to people and we try to give them the best experience we can” 

And sometimes the best experiences do come from people who are slightly obsessive. To be fair, we didn’t totally hijack the game drive either. We saw lovely rhinos, giraffes, antelope, elephant  and even hippo in the dams, which were initially more significant to our German friends in the back, who hadn’t seen rhino before and were understandably freaking out with delight. But after several hours, and several hundred stops to look at birds, along with the replaying of the call, showing the German’s the bird in the Field Guide and chatting a bit about the birds we’d seen with them, they were really grateful for something different and some insights garnered from years of guiding and looking at birds. 

In many ways, our love of coffee and birding mirror each other. There are so many different, amazing coffees out there and so many ways to brew them!  There are approximately 850 recorded species of birds in Southern Africa, and around 700 resident species. Each coffee brewing adventure is unique, as is every sojourn outside to look for birds. The fact that they go together so well is wonderful! 

I’ve been talked down about the Golden Pipit sighting. I concede that it probably was just another yellow-throated longclaw sitting alongside his mate, feathers puffed out from the rains that caused all the excitement.

I’m a long, long way from both seemingly unreachable utopias of the Golden Pipit sighting and the God Shot, but, in a way I’m kind of glad about that. 

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What Kind of Coffee Drinker are you?

Friday, 29 January, 2021

Words by Iain Evans

In a recent discussion with a close friend of mine, I became acutely aware that there are coffee drinkers and then there are coffee drinkers, plus a whole realm in between. How often have you heard someone say something like: “I love coffee, I only drink the good stuff like (insert instant coffee brand here)” or “I love coffee, I have 15 cups a day!” and one thinks, well, yes, you certainly do love coffee (read: are significantly addicted to) but what kind of coffee? Coffee. Koffie. iKofi. Kaffee. Kopi. Khavi. This all-encompassing term for the beverage we love and need,  led us to look at what South Africans really think about coffee and particularly the coffee that they drink. 

The conversation I had with my friend started with instant coffee. He loves instant coffee. Drinks mug-full’s of the stuff every day. Why? Because it’s cheap and it’s easy. If you’re an instant coffee drinker, like my friend Mike, and like most people in our beautiful country, It’s what you know and it’s what you like and it gives you the kick you need.  I explained to him the context in which instant coffee in South Africa became a household staple, and to this day, makes up the largest market share of consumed coffee. I tried to explain to my friend, in very simple terms, that in the Apartheid days, because of the hectic trade embargos on South Africa, we became a dumping ground for cheap robusta coffee. Mix that in with some chicory root, freeze dry it and you have a cheap, soluble coffee that has a long shelf life and is easy to prepare. The downside is that a lot of people in this category are adding 3-4 heaped teaspoons of sugar, plus some Cremora and lots of milk just to tolerate the high bitter compounds found in the main ingredients. 

INTERESTING INFO courtesy of Dylan Cumming of Beaver Creek Coffee

Due to our political position in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s South Africa was not a member of the ICO.  The International Coffee Agreement (ICA) is an international commodity agreement between coffee producing countries and consuming countries. 

The agreement was first drafted and signed in 1962, with its aim of keeping coffee prices high and stable in the market by maintaining exporting countries’ quotas to influence the price. The International Coffee Organization (ICO), is the controlling body of this agreement, and represents all major producing and consuming countries. As South Africa was not a signed member, South Africa became a dumping ground for poor quality coffee and our imports at the time reflecting this. 2750 000 bags imported with 15% Arabica and 85% Robusta. The legacy of this can still be seen today with South Africa have a higher than average instant coffee over pure coffee consumption.

Our Suggestion: Try a coffee that is made from Arabica only, or has a higher ratio of arabica to Robusta/chicory. Arabica coffee has twice the sugars and half the caffeine of Robusta! If you have to add milk, try heating it first, as milk sweetens naturally at around 65 degrees C. 

After I had explained all this, my friend, the instant coffee drinker, then cocked his head to one side and challenged me. “So you’re saying that if I bought some decent Arabica coffee from the supermarket and brewed it, I wouldn’t need to add any sugar and it would taste sweet?”  Not exactly. No. Nothing will taste sweet compared to a beverage with 3 heaped teaspoons of sugar, but it will taste more like coffee. The easiest way to graduate to this category, I explained to my friend, is to kick the instant coffee habit altogether and invest in some fresh coffee beans and a simple manual brewing device. The simplest and most common method is the plunger. Chuck the coffee in, add hot water and plunge. Taste it first, add a little sugar and milk if you absolutely have to. It will taste better than instant and you will at least have an opportunity to actually start to taste the wonderful variety of different flavour profiles that coffee can have. 

Our suggestion:  Plungers are easily available and most supermarkets have them, but there are some really fun brewing devices like the AeroPress, V60 pour-overs and Chemex’s too. Try and invest in a grinder, there are some great hand grinding options or you can go for an electric burr grinder of some kind. Do this, and you’ll be on track to tasting coffee in a whole new way! 

I could see my friend shifting uncomfortably as I started to become excited about brew ratios and taste profiles. I was beginning to lose him. “Look Mike”, I told him. “I know you’re not interested in the brewing part, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy good coffee” One of the most successful coffee companies of all time, who happen to associate themselves with George Clooney, recognised this and changed the way millions of people, like Mike, enjoy coffee. They solved the brewing problem by making it easy. You pop a capsule into a machine, push a button and you get a shot of espresso. Convenience coffee is not only the capsule market – there are some really amazing fully automatic machines that grind the coffee, extract the espresso and even steam milk for you at the touch of a button. These are called “bean-to-cup” coffee machines and are certainly worth investigating if you want great coffee but you don’t want to have to learn how to make it. 

Our Suggestion: Many local coffee roasteries are now packaging their coffee in environmentally friendly capsules that are compatible with most capsule coffee machines. If there isn’t one in your area, many of the best coffee roasteries have online stores that you can order from and they will deliver to you. Alternatively, the bean-to-cup coffee machines are pretty impressive, so depending on your budget, you should be able to find a solution that will give you wonderfully different coffee flavours without having to know anything about brewing or espresso extraction. 

This is one of the most exciting areas of coffee in South Africa. I mean, you can literally buy anything from tampons to firelighters at our Garages (or Petrol Stations, if you’re reading this anywhere other than Southern Africa).  And you can get pretty great coffee too. Even my friend Mike, the self-proclaimed instant coffee lover, admits sheepishly that he will fill up his car at a certain garage because the “Mucho Grande Latte” there is better than the one up the road. Look, this article is about identifying coffee drinkers who gravitate towards a specific type of coffee and why.  The “why” here is obvious - busy people on the go need caffeine. If it tastes good, that’s great. If it doesn’t, well there’s plenty of other options, and those on the move, know and share these spots like dirty secrets.  

Hence, the reason this segment is growing all the time. Usually, the better spots are when it’s a barista-made coffee. Be it from vida e, Seattle Coffee Co, Weisenhof or McDonald’s even, there is usually an actual, trained human in control of the coffee you’re drinking. These companies also invest in pretty high-end espresso machines and grinders, water filtration equipment and a reasonable mix of quality arabica coffee beans to give you a better tasting cup of coffee. 

Our Suggestion: There are literally millions of coffee drinkers out there who absolutely love a good take-away coffee from their local Garage. I urge you to take a look at the Listings page in this magazine and try a coffee from any one of them. Two things will happen:  Firstly you’ll probably get a chance to meet and have a conversation with the person making the coffee, known as a barista. And usually they are very knowledgeable about the coffee they are serving and how it’s made. Secondly, it’ll taste very different, to your usual garage take-away coffee because of this.    

This kind of coffee drinker is where the fussiness begins. They want a decent espresso or a cappuccino with or after their meal. They care what brand is used and they have expectations. Rightly so. Usually this kind of coffee drinker will be satisfied with a brand name Italian Coffee like Illy, Lavazza or Kimbo. They like the consistency of knowing what they’re getting. The coffee companies that distribute these brands to restaurants aim to ensure that no matter where in the world you drink an (insert Italian brand name coffee here) the taste and experience is the same. The staff are trained to  prepare the coffee and they usually know how to serve it consistently. Again, the critical factor here is the investment in the people making the coffee, the strict product parameters of the coffee brand and the quality of the coffee equipment in the restaurant. What is very interesting in current times though is the gradual migration of restaurants  towards supporting local Coffee Roasters. Some coffee drinkers will switch allegiance from their local favourite restaurant, especially for Breakfast, in favour of a specific restaurant that serves a great coffee over anything else. 

Our Suggestion: This category of coffee drinker is mostly concerned by consistency and good service. Everyone has their favourite tasting coffee and their favourite restaurants. They want the coffee made the same way every time. If you are traveling to a new town or visit a new restaurant  - ask the wait staff which coffee brand they are using or which coffee company supplies the coffee. If those names are ones you recognise or the company appears in the pages of this publication, you’re bound to get what you want!  

Now we are getting to the discerning end of the coffee drinking spectrum, and admittedly, the smallest of the coffee consuming public. Like fine food or wine cost and interest are the biggest determining factors. Cost, because in order to taste the true potential of a high end coffee, one needs specific accoutrements and Interest, because now one is well and truly entering the coffee-connoisseur realm, and the knowledge behind the flavour becomes more important to this coffee drinker than in the categories discussed earlier in this article. There are two scenarios here – Firstly, the coffee drinker that enjoys making coffee at home and secondly the coffee drinker that enjoys drinking their coffee at a Coffee Shop or a Coffee Roastery (and these establishments are different, by the way, to restaurants that also happen to have coffee on the menu)  The home coffee connoisseur will have indulged in both cost and in Interest – splurging out on coffee gadgets, scales, grinders, brewing devices, kettles, filters, and so on, and either done a home-barista course, coffee appreciation course or spent many hours gathering coffee trivia online. This coffee drinker will most likely spend a good deal of money and time in their favourite coffee establishments too, chatting with baristas, roasters and like-minded customers. Maybe even attending public coffee cuppings. If you are interested in this kind of thing, you will be amazed at the absolute complexity and myriad of flavours that coffee, yes, coffee can possess. 

Our suggestion: 

If this is you, then you are one of very few people lucky enough to be able to spend time and money on great coffee. The fight to improve the quality of coffee on the market, to uplift the lives of baristas and to grow the specialty coffee market is your mission. Ironically, now that you’ve arrived, the knowledge journey for you has only just begun. Speak to any Barista, Roaster, Barista Trainer, SA Coffee Champion or Coffee Professional here or around the World and they will all tell you the same thing:  The more you learn about this wonderful thing called coffee, the more you realize how little you know! 

As a postscript to this story, my friend Mike loves beer. He likes wine too, but only certain kinds. He started drinking gin a couple years ago when the craze hit and now has a range of favourites. The journey is the same with coffee, and it is in the sharing of the experiences that we all become richer for them.  If you know a Mike, take him or her along next time you go for a coffee, koffie, iKofi… and start that discussion!

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Cool Stuff Made from Coffee Waste

Friday, 29 January, 2021

Use what you got: Cool Stuff made from Coffee Waste

The process of making coffee produces quite a lot of waste. Innovative thinkers around the world have come up with incredible ways of utilising the various stages of waste created, mainly focused around used coffee grounds. Presenting upcycling at its finest, here we highlight some of the most interesting products made from coffee.

Rens Sneakers

We kid you not! These sneakers are partly made using coffee grounds!

Coming from Vietnam, both Rens founders have first-hand experience of the footwear industry's environmental impact. "It's unbelievable how giant companies churn out millions of unsustainable products, using unsustainable materials and doing very little to mitigate their impact," says CEO Jesse Tran. Conversely, when looking for sustainable footwear, the founders found the options to be lacking. Co-founder Son Chu explains, “Jesse and I are both young sneakerheads who are also concerned about the origin and impact of the shoes we wear. It felt like no one was making an eco-friendly option for us – for our generation. So, we decided to make one ourselves.”  

Every pair of Rens has an upper made from a mixture of coffee yarn (from 300g used coffee grounds) and recycled polyester (made with post-consumer plastic). Each shoe also includes a coffee-infused inner lining designed with a breathable, ultra-lightweight material. 100% waterproof, the shoes adapt to your movements to provide all-day comfort. Stylish and versatile, Rens sneakers can be worn durning the urban grind or on the mountain. What’s more, coffee’s natural antibacterial properties make Rens odor-resistant for their entire lifecycle. Sounds a bit too good to be true right? They ran a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign in June 2019 that saw them exceed their funding goals and allowed them to officially go into full scale production. We want some!

It makes perfect sense that coffee by-products are being used in the coffee industry, as such we found two options of reusable coffee cups. Both using waste from different parts of the coffee, namely the husks from farm level and the paper take away cups used by the million in the coffee industry.


HuskeeCup is a revolutionary product helping to reduce waste the coffee industry produces each year. Over 500 billion takeaway cups pile up in landfill each year. As a result, it’s become a huge focus of coffee companies to be part of the effort to help alleviate the issue.

What’s different with this is they’ve used coffee husks as a raw material. This is an organic waste material produced at the milling stage of coffee production. Thus by supporting the HuskeeCup you’re helping to recycle hundreds of tonnes of waste from coffee production.

The Sydney-based company somehow came up with the idea of making coffee cups out of discarded coffee husk, which sounds like a crazy idea, but the result is a cup that we’d welcome into our kitchen with open arms. ‘Many people don’t realise that coffee is the seed of a fruit,’ says Tim Heinze, Huskee team member and coffee grower. ‘Coffee starts out as two seeds inside this fruit and eventually ends up as a roasted coffee bean. The coffee seed has this layer of husk on it. HuskeeCup comes from the unused husk.’ HuskeeCup is a reusable alternative to your regular mug that’s comfortable to hold and keeps your coffee hotter for longer, thanks to its grooved design. It’s chip and crack resistant and the makers say their product is durable enough to withstand life in a busy cafe, as well as being elegant enough to also look the part. The handle-less design is perfect for easy stacking, and the ridges keep the heat in, as well as adding grip. The cups come in a café-ready range of sizes. Each size fits a universal saucer, and lazy souls will be pleased to know the whole range can be shoved in the dishwasher. You can also get a (universal) lid to turn your Huskee into a travel cup – perfect!

Circular&Co Cup

The Circular&Co Cup is the world’s first reusable coffee cup – or travel mug – made from recycled paper coffee cups. Circular&Co is a company focused entirely oncoming up with products from waste materials. Founder Daniel Dicker views ‘waste’ materials as both a challenge and an opportunity. ‘Ranging from redundant plant pots and coffee cups to seemingly useless things like car bumpers, plastic bottles and yoghurt pots; we turn them into fantastic and durable products like house signs, tide clocks and travel mugs for you to use.’ Every day in the UK, up to 8 million coffee cups are thrown away, with less than 1% of these cups thought to be recycled. The main challenge to date has been the plastic film lining the paper cups, which means they are rarely recyclable. “But now working with our partners Nextek and Simply Cups we are able to recycle and shred the whole coffee cup and using the strong cellulose fibres of the cup we can bond it with a special resin. This resin is mixed with recycled plastic to create a new material which can be manufactured into a range of new products, including the Circular&Co Cup.”

The Circular&Co Cup features a unique ‘push in – push out’ lid which makes it not only 100% leakproof, it also enables 360 degrees drinking. So no more sipping your expensive coffee through a tiny hole! And what’s more; thanks to this lid you can actually smell the coffee. We got to try these out at the London Coffee Festival 2018 and they’re really cool, bing able to smell the coffee makes a surprisingly big difference, which makes sense when you think about it!

The intention was not only to prevent new paper coffee cups from turning into landfill, but actually recycling those that have already been used. Furthermore,  it is also recyclable, something that does not always apply to other mugs and cups – for instance those which contain silicon.

This reusable coffee cup is reportedly 100% leakproof, dishwasher save, BPA free and is designed for a 10+ years lifetime. Sounds good, right?

Firefly Firespark - Biofuel Firelighters

Say hello to FireFly Biofuel – the new kid on the environmentally friendly block, and the perfect gift for braai masters with an eco-friendly agenda! We chatted to Mariska van der Heide of FireFly Biofuel to find out more.

How did Firefly Biofuel come to be? 

“We’d love to say over a cup of coffee but alas...over a couple of drinks at a friend’s house. Friends of ours have a furniture company and they were complaining about having to pay someone to remove their off-cut wood pieces and sawdust. My husband, Kai, volunteered to design a press for them in order to utilise the sawdust and make wood logs to use in their fireplace for the house. They said that they didn’t have time and asked Kai if he wanted to play with it. Since this was a labour of love, we set the standards ridiculously high – toxin-free, petroleum-free, smoke-free, odourless… From there, Kai started experimenting with different moulds and ingredients.”

Where did the idea for firelighters made from coffee waste come from? 

“During the research phase, it was a natural evolution. We tried to find a resource that could replace petroleum as an accelerant and came across multiple articles relating to uses of waste coffee. The reason why coffee is so good for composting and worm farms is the high nitrogen content and calorie count (when decomposing and burnt), and from there the experiments began. 

Coffee is an amazing resource that stretches from the morning cup of Java that kickstarts your day, through to fertilising the land where your fruits and vegetables are grown, along with mushroom farms all the way through to (now) the firelighter that starts your braai. Not to mention the fact that coffee is the world’s second largest traded commodity besides oil so it was readily available, and the uses of coffee from the bean to the fire is almost limitless.”

Where do you get all of your coffee waste from? 

“We collect our coffee from local coffee shops (independents and corporate) in an effort to assist in reducing their waste to zero and removing coffee from the methane cycle. We cover all levels of supplier from the one-person machine to large corporate entities. We supply a food grade container that is airtight and hygienic and replace them on a regular schedule as per the supplier needs.”

And where can people find the Firefly FireSpark? 

"We have a e-commerce now available where people can purchase directly or from their favourite retail outlets listed on our website as well."

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Reserve Release from Rosetta Roastery is one you don't want to miss

Thursday, 21 January, 2021

We were delighted to receive the very special package below from Rosetta Roastery this week. As part of their 10 year anniversary celebrations, they have released this extra special coffee from Hacienda La Esmeralda, Panama. They first bought coffee from this farm 10 years ago in 2011, so it is only fitting that this coffee features as part of the celebrations.

What can we say about this exceptional coffee? In a word: elegant.

But we can't limit ourselves to just one word. It is the kind of coffee that you want to savour. The Geisha varietal is revered in the specialty coffee industry for its floral aromatics and natural sweetness and this offering from Hacienda La Esmeralda is the epitome of these characteristics. Balanced, sweet, delicate, but distinctive. It is an evolved coffee, one could say. Much of the high-end coffee we taste is distinctive because experimental processing in very much on trend and creates some startling and other-worldly coffee experiences. But this coffee. This is a coffee that is refined, a coffee that through years of experience and hard work, is pure and simple elegance.

We would highly recommend that you take the plunge and get your hands on some of this exceptional coffee.

We feature a long-form read on Rosetta's journey so far in the Summer 2021 Edition of the Print Magazine. You can find it at one of our wonderful distributors or you can order it to be delivered straight to your door as part of our subscription.

We followed the recommended brewing instructions that come in the artfully produced information booklet that accompanies the coffee delivery.

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Cafe of the Week: Lineage Coffee (New Location)

Thursday, 21 January, 2021

Lineage Coffee

Shop 11, Hillcrest Centre, Old Main Road, Hillcrest

The Lineage Team has settled in to their new location rather nicely! It is a warm and welcoming cafe and it was pumping, which is just so lovely to see in these trying times. The team was firing on all cylinders, going the extra mile to get the coffee to the people!

Craig Charity, Boss Man of Lineage, always has a few projects on the go (understatement!). We loved seeing his grinder on the counter (of his own design and build) and the new coffee tins they are using for their retail beans. They also have a LaMarzocco Linea 4-group machine sitting pretty on the counter (with a few Craig tweaks).

In the workshop in the back we got a peek at the vintage La Pavoni that he has been refurbishing and the Apollo Coffee Machine that will be installed this week at the Hillcrest Hospital ICU funded by donations from the community to help the ICU staff through this hugely stressful and busy time. Great initiative from Craig and the Lineage Team.

We sampled the Fingerprint Blend as a cortado and it was chocolatey, smooth and delicious. A comforting cup that keeps you wanting more!

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INNOVATION: New 100% recyclable packaging from Terbodore + Cold Brew in a Can

Friday, 22 January, 2021

While the stunning new range of packaging from Terbodore Coffee is so very pretty, that isn't the most amazing thing about it. The most amazing thing about it, is the fact that the bags are 100% recyclable. 

You can see the full super colourful range here.

This is quite a thing in the coffee world, as majority of coffee bags (while they might look like kraft on the outside) have either a foil or non-recyclable plastic lining on the inside of the bags to keep things fresh and stop any oils from destroying the bags. Only a handful of companies in SA have so far made the move to a bag with a plant-based plastic-like lining, as the cost is generally quite prohibitive. But the more it happens, the better the price point becomes for us down here on the Southern tip of Africa, so kudos to the companies that are charging forward.

We are still a bit bewildered that on-the-go cold coffee in cans has yet to really take off here. This is BIG business in South East Asian and US markets and with a steamy climate like ours, we thought the trend would make its way here faster. But it still hasn't quite caught on. Terbodore is a bit ahead of the curve in this regard. We have long been fans of their sparkling cold brew and look forward to when we can pair these delicious flavours with gin again ;) But just look how gorgeous the new cans are! A very stylish way to rock up with a six-pack indeed. Our current favourite flavour is the Honeybush and Orange. Yum!!!

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Support Small Business: 4 New Joburg Cafes to Visit!

Thursday, 17 December, 2020

If you're considering heading out safely for a delicious cup of coffee, why not try these gems in Joburg for something new.

Morning Glory

Park Corner, 146 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg

Serving up delicious beans from Bean There Coffee Company and winning attitudes courtesy of the lovely team, this street-side cafe is a feast for the eyes. It was a scorcher on the day we visited so we sampled their blended iced coffee, that was made using Ethiopia Sidamo beans (from a co-op we have had the privilege of visiting, what a treat!).

Vintage Coffee 

Inside Parks Centre. Wells Ave, Parkwood, Johannesburg, 2193

The Vintage crew have made the move into Joburg! And the coffee community is better for it. Serving up The Pedlar's Blend roasted by Bishops Coffee, the new spot is located in a very convenient little centre and also has access from the road side. Modise, the barista, will serve you up some goodness!

Doubleshot Coffee & Tea 

Shop 4, Ground Floor, 199 Oxford Parks, Dunkeld , JHB, 2196

A long time Joburg favourite has found a new home in Rosebank and the new digs are beautiful. You can still get all the old favourites that you've come to know and love at the Braamfontein location and they have an excellent selection of freshly roasted coffee beans and beautiful bespoke teas.

Fingers Crossed

2A 5th Avenue, Emmarentia

Wesley Booth, who we met through Creative Coffee Week, has opened up this sweet spot near Emmarentia Dam, so while you get your steps in, take the family for a walk or head to the dam for some peace and quiet, why not take a coffee with you? Thy also have some lovely food options if you'd like to stay a while. The coffee is roasted by the team and you can also buy beans.

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Roaster Focus: How to Choose the Right Size Roaster for your operation

Friday, 15 January, 2021

Every month we will be featuring an exclusive blog from Neil Maree, owner of Genio Coffee Roasters to expand your knowledge of these machines and give you some insight into the coffee industry. We already learnt so much from this first piece! Take it away Neil...

Coffee roasting is as much a science as it is an art.

I am Neil Maree. I am an engineer and the founder of Genio Coffee Roasters.

My passion for engineering and the love of coffee was cultivated at the University of the North-West, South Africa, where my final year engineering project ultimately led to me to build a coffee roaster. I started developing machines full time and Genio Coffee Roasters was founded in 2011. At Genio we are now celebrating our first 10 years in the coffee roasting industry.

My topic for today is how to decide what size of roaster you need to buy to suit your roasting needs. This decision requires a balanced approach as there are many variables to consider. In my experience, prospective buyers often ask for the incorrect size because they have not carefully considered their target market nor have they done a forecast of what they will be able to sell. 

Investing in a roaster which is too big can be as counter-productive as investing in a roaster which is too small. As much as you need time to roast, you need time to sell and you have to be able to sell what you have roasted. As a commercial coffee roaster, you are in business to make money and to serve your customer base at a sustainable level. This is where you need to hit the sweet spot in order for your business to turn over. Always remember that selling equals making money!

Pictured here are (from left to right) examples of a 3kg, 6kg and 15kg roaster set up. The cyclindrical piece of equipment in the centre is a de-stoner.

Here goes the math behind the roasting! I have devised a calculator to aid you in making an informed decision when you consider the size of the coffee roaster you are planning to buy. My calculations are based on the 1kg, 3kg, 6kg, 15kg and 30kg roaster sizes – the micro roaster (1kg to 3kg), small commercial roaster (5kg to 15kg) and the medium commercial roaster (15kg to 30kg).

 {Ed's Note: Current Exchange Rate is $1 = R15,18}

In Table 1, you can see that a 1kg machine is totally inadequate to earn a salary of 3000 USD per month.  A 6kg roaster will work, but you’d need to sell 2600x 16oz bags (1190x 1kg bags) to make your salary, which leaves you with only 88 hours per month to do active selling.  With a 15kg machine, you’ll have 128 hours left (16 days out of the month if you actively sell for 7 hours per day).  This is quite easy to achieve and your business will grow quickly since you are spending 2 weeks out of every month actively selling and promoting your brand.  So, in this scenario, a 6-15kg will be sufficient given your expected salary income.

I have put together further scenarios to illustrate the math:

Scenario 1: I want to roast for my own coffee shop that consumes 20lb of coffee per day.  I also sell a few bags retail to my walk-in patrons.  I previously bought roasted coffee at $18/lb.  What size roaster do I need to buy?

Recommendation:  With a 6kg machine I’d need to roast for 59 hours per month.  I’d rather get a 15kg machine and only roast every Monday for 6 hours.  Then my coffee will be degassed by Friday, ready for the weekend rush.  Yes, the capital expense is more.  But do I really have another 59 hours to spend away from the shop, busy roasting?  Probably not.

Scenario 2:  I used to earn 4000 USD per month at my corporate job.  I now want to have my own business.  How much coffee do I need to sell to sustain my lifestyle?

Recommendation:  This is a new business and I can invest all of my time into it.  A 6kg machine will be adequate as I’ll still have 66 hours (8 days) per month left to sell.

Scenario 3:  I currently have a 6kg machine roasting, but I’m just too busy.  I’m making good money, but I spend most of my time behind the machine.  If I upgraded to a 15kg machine, how much more time will I have per month in order to run and grow my business?

Recommendation:  Upgrading my 6kg to a 15kg machine is the perfect solution.  I currently only have 22 hours per month for selling my coffee.  With a 15kg machine, I can increase that up to 101 hours!  Alternatively, I can employ a roasting operator who can work 7 hours per day on the machine, leaving me with my full 154 hours per month to sell and grow the business.  But this operator would increase my expenses with another $3000.  So, I’d need to sell more…?

Scott Rao, coffee consultant and author, also emphasises the importance of looking towards the future when considering the capacity of your coffee roaster -- you need to know how much coffee you anticipate to roast every week for the next two years. Scott explains the crucial marker is the weekly amount of coffee you plan to roast at a point two years from the day you purchase your new coffee roaster. Scott’s recommendation is to buy a roaster size big enough to roast that amount of coffee in no more than 25 hours (

The magical art of roasting coffee

I trust that these calculations have sparked your interest and have made you more aware of the variables you need to consider when deciding on a roaster size.  We all have our own unique set of circumstances driven by our own budget and our own business plan. I have made several assumptions in my calculations which may well differ from one situation to another. I am therefore inviting you to contact me for a one-on-one consultation about your specific coffee roasting needs (

All of the best in coffee.


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