The Ultimate Coffee Gift Guide 2020

Wednesday, 18 December, 2019

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Coffee Magazine nominated for a Sprudgie, international coffee accolade

Wednesday, 18 December, 2019

Last week we received some pretty cool news. We've been nominated for an award! When we started The Coffee Magazine Awards two years ago, its purpose was to shine a light on the hard work happening out there in the coffee industry, because being acknowledged motivates and inspires everyone to be even better. Thank you for all your support over the last 8 years, we're very proud to be included in this list among other coffee titles from around the world that we respect so much. It may be a cliché, but damn, it's a real honour just to be nominated.

"Congratulations on this from all of us at Sprudge Media Network. Voting will open on Friday, December 13th at 10am Pacific Standard Time and close on Friday, January 3rd at midnight PST.  Best of luck, and we're thrilled to have you as part of our 2019 Sprudgie Awards nominees."

So, Coffee Magazine loyal supporters, we need your help! 

You can vote for us here:

You don't have to vote in any other categories, though I'm sure the nominees would all appreciate the vote of confidence!


Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Profile: Meet Chris Rootman, SA coffee legend

Thursday, 19 December, 2019

Chris Rootman is the National Sales Manager of VDP Distributors, and a SCASA board member as of April 2019. We chatted to Chris about his experiences in the coffee industry…

So, who is Chris Rootman?

“I think the short answer is that I’m a person who was lucky to fall in love with coffee early in my career and jumped at opportunities to learn more. As a husband and father to a beautiful family, I’ve been privileged to find ways to support my family while working in an industry that I absolutely love! I’ve also relished the opportunity to move into the management side of the industry. I’m also a bit of a cricket fanatic, love to read crime fiction, and my favourite holiday venue is the Kruger National Park!”

How did you get into the coffee industry?

“I was fortunate to be involved with the hospitality industry where I met some amazing people who helped shape and guide me. Bernard Muneri, Benhard Wiese and Jan van de Putte saw my talent at different stages in my career, and allowed me to explore it, while feeding me with constant information. Through this, I was lucky to start first as a barista trainer, grew into wholesale, and today I manage a wide range of responsibilities for some of the biggest brands in the industry.”

As a coffee lover, what are your three favourite coffee shops?

“I don’t get out as much as I like these days, but when I do its always Oscars Café in Hillcrest, Lineage, also in Hillcrest, and Skyline in Morningside.”

What do you think are the unique challenges faced by South Africa’s coffee industry?

“The industry has many different aspects, each facing their own challenges… As the bulk of our green coffee comes from outside of South Africa, there are many challenges surrounding the importing of beans. When you start speaking to the importers there are some amazing stories of how far some people have gone to get their beans to us. I remember a recent story about a farmer from Malawi who loaded his car with his entire crop and drove it to Johannesburg to deliver it to his buyer. Roasters have other challenges. Right now, load-shedding is at the top of the list.

There is a tendency starting to surface where price wars are driving the wholesale part of our industry. As much as I understand that dropping your margin is sometimes needed to close a deal, I feel that this is de-valuing this part of our industry. By allowing someone to buy a roasted, bagged and branded kilogram of coffee for cost plus a very small margin, we are stunting the growth of the smaller roasters and importers. The margin is needed to be able to invest into people, employ and educate more staff, buy better equipment, grow skill sets and as such, make a positive contribution towards the industry as a whole.

Café’s and consumers – this is the place where we get to tell the story of our coffees, our cafés, and our baristas. The place where the consumers get to experience and learn about our magical industry. Cafés (and I use it as a broad term) have had a tough time in 2019. Location is the name of the game and the better the location, the higher the rent. High rent means that costs need to be cut elsewhere, often leading to baristas not getting paid a market-related salary, but also that they start selling their coffee for smaller margins, to compete with all the other coffee sellers around them. 

All of this contributes to the shop making less money, which affects the store’s entire operation. I’m seeing a worldwide trend of stores starting to sell commodity coffees as well as speciality coffees, at different price ranges. I’d like to see that happening here more often. There are however many places who already pay their baristas well above the industry standard, continually strive to up-skill their teams and sell their coffee at prices that do justice to the coffee they serve. I’d like to see more of that in 2020.”

What’s been the highlight of your coffee journey?

“There are literally moments every single day where I feel so privileged to be doing what I am. I'd like to highlight the relationships I’ve built over the last 10 years. I think this is true for everyone in our industry. We’re all working in a fiercely competitive industry which gets tougher every day due to economic pressure, but also more and more new players offering similar products. Yet, when we get together, we are friends. When we need advice, we call on our industry friends. 

This sense of community is not something I’ve experienced in other industries. This camaraderie helps me get out of bed the morning after a rough day, knowing someone else has faced similar issues and they will help me get through it.”

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are starting out on their own paths in the coffee industry?

“Network. Network. Network. There is an absolute mass of information out there that can be overwhelming and confusing. The people in the industry have learnt hard lessons and are able to offer great advice and guidance. Sometimes ideas and inspiration come from the strangest places. Work hard. Follow your passion.”

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Coffee Monster! A fun new coffee app that allows you to skip the queue.

Friday, 13 December, 2019

It’s always exciting to see innovation in the coffee space, and while for most of us that means new coffee equipment, products and flavours, for others it is innovation around the experience of getting your coffee. Enter Coffee Monster.
This is an exciting new app that allows you (The Caffiend) to connect with the person making your coffee (The Beastly Barista) quickly and easily to order and pay for your coffee before you arrive. The App also has a loyalty programme ( a free coffee for every 10 orders) and a cool discovery element where you can find new Monster Spots when you travel or you may not know about. It is all packaged in a very fun monster-themed interface, with bright colours, fun characters and easy navigation around the app.  

The Coffee Monster app is very new and is proudly South African, developed by Ashleigh Nestadt and Gail Cross. The two met by sheer luck with Gail having developed the technology and Ash having developed a brand identity and presence.
“I studied in Cape Town and struggled to grab a coffee on my way to campus owing to limited parking around my favourite coffee shops. When coming to Joburg, I picked up on a new trend whereby some speciality coffee shops were allowing customers to WhatsApp them an order ahead of time and bring coffee to their car. This solution sparked an idea to advance this service and make it accessible country-wide” says Ash.  
Gail adds: “Wanting coffee on the road between meetings and with a love for finding innovative technical solutions, I saw an opportunity to develop an app that offers a convenient on-the-go service.”

Co-founders Gail and Ashleigh.
Ashleigh having immersed herself into the worlds of psychology, research, animal activism, and app development for the past few years,  graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Masters in Psychological Research but is now working full time on Coffee Monster. “Our distinct focus on the coffee community and creating a Coffee Monster brand identity make us unique.”
Gail, who had worked in the banking industry for 15 years in IT development and corporate transactional banking, left the corporate world to focus more on her family (a mom of two boys) and to apply her technical and business background to bring the App idea to fruition.  

 “Our app is culturally relevant. We provide a convenient service to customers through leading industry trends both global ‘skip the queue’;  and local ‘drop off at my car’  and ‘deliver to my office  (within walking distance). We offer loyalty across our community. With every coffee purchase, customers earn a loyalty bean. Once 10 beans are earned, a customers 11th cup is FREE and can be redeemed at ANY Monster Spot.”

So they might love coffee, and make a cool app but do they know coffee?  “Batch Brew!” says Ash. “I love black coffee and generally get an Americano. I did a short course with Stevo at The Grind. This was my first glimpse into the depth of knowledge that exists within this industry.”  
“My interactions with passionate roasters, store owners and baristas is an inspiring journey” says Gail.  “The community works to support and encourage the best coffee experiences for customers and it's been incredible to be welcomed and exposed to their expertise and extensive knowledge. Being a cappuccino fan, my most recent favorite coffee was from Cupocafe in Pretoria. Their blend is roasted for cappuccino drinking.”
So whether you’re an on-the-go coffee fan, a drive by hustler, a sit-in customer or want your coffee delivered to your work, then Coffee Monster is for you!
Download the app here.
Are you a Coffee Shop Owner? If you’d like your store listed on the Coffee Monster App, email Ash and Gail on  

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Entries Open: A Shot in the Dark 2020

Wednesday, 11 December, 2019

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Limited Edition Jonsson and Coffee Magazine Tees: Rise Up Africa!

Wednesday, 4 December, 2019

We love our Summer Edition Cover illustrated by the wonderful Phathu Designs so much that we put it on a T-shirt. Not just any T-shirt, the awesome Jonsson Melange Tees, built for quality and longevity!

This is an extremely Limited Edition Offer. There are only 50 available to purchase for R250 each. Place your order now so you don't miss out on your size in this awesome design!

Fill in the form below and we'll get back to you ASAP to confirm your order.

I want a Rise Up Africa Tee!

These tees are very limited Edition, custom prints on Jonsson Melange (super soft, comfy and extra length fabric) They are going to go very quckly and stock and sizes are limited.

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Choose to Reuse!

Tuesday, 3 December, 2019

It’s so easy to get sucked into the gloom. As a fly-fisherman and a surfer, the ocean and the estuarine rivers which feed it are an integral part of my existence. A lifeblood, really. As a father of two young boys, every time I’m out there – either wading waist deep plying a drop-off for gamefish with the fly-rod or bobbing in the line-up awaiting my turn for a wave – I hold onto some deep hope that my boys might enjoy it all in a similar state to what I have. 

Yet it’s easy to get sucked into the gloom. The stats are ever-present, poised to sow doom: Less than than 9% of all of the plastic we use every day gets recycled. That is according to a 2017 report published in the scientific journal, Science Advances. Instead, most of it ends up floating in the ocean or in landfills. It is estimated that 1 million sea birds, 100 000 marine mammals and countless fish are killed as a direct result of plastics, every year. It’s easy to fret about what life will look like for our children. 

Then something like the April 2019 KwaZulu-Natal floods happen. And it serves as a stark wake-up call: That future is now. 

Those devastating floods saw all the major rivers come down. When the waters finally started subsiding the imagery on social media and news outlets changed from hectic watery scenes to horrifying post-apocalypticesque pictures of the mountains of plastic waste that had been washed up on Durban’s beaches. 

The word ‘plastic’ is derived from the ancient Greek term which translates to, ‘to shape’ or ‘mould’ and when it was first discovered some in 1907 humanity got very quickly caught up in the possibilities of being able to ‘mould’ well, just about anything. There’s no getting away from it, plastic was and remains helluva useful. It created so many possibilities that were unthinkable before, so humans rolled with it, working it into everything. 

From the cars we drive, the shoes and clothes we wear, the devices we use every day – it is everywhere and in everything. And the trick is, it’s not going anywhere. Ever. We’re now stuck with it. 

According to Ingrid Sinclair Marketing Manager from the Two Oceans Aquarium – whose doctoral thesis was based on plastic pollution – one of the biggest problems when trying to explain plastic, is understanding time scale. “People don’t realise how far apart a million and a billion are. A million seconds is about 12 days. A billion seconds is about 32 years. A trillion seconds? 32 000 years,” Sinclair says. 

“Now consider: Studies suggest that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the ocean — enough to circulate the Earth’s equator 425 times (14 million kilometres). Altogether, the combined weight of plastic in the ocean amounts to about 269 million kilograms.” And that, according to Sinclair, isn’t counting the plastic already piling up in landfills around the world, or the plastic in the lid of the cappuccino you had to go this morning. Or the plastic stirrers or that still used in coffee cups. 

“It also doesn’t include the plastic that is yet to be produced or the plastic that leaks into the ocean on a daily basis – by some accounts, a refuse truck’s worth every 60 minutes. The numbers are terrifying – by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea (by weight). 2050 sounds far away, but actually it’s only about a billion seconds away.”

As if we needed more reminding all research by the likes of Sinclair and others shows that the biggest culprit by far is ‘single-use’ plastic. “Today, approximately 42% of all global polymer production is used for single-use packaging, and as a result the share of plastics in municipal solid waste (by mass) increased from less than 1% in 1960 to more than 10% by 2005 in middle- and high-income countries. In South Africa, more than 53% of plastic is used for food packaging.”

When it comes to the coffee industry, research shows that some 100 billion cups end up in landfill each year. This is of course a growing problem with estimates well above 300 billion by 2020.

But, you know what? There is hope.

Hope and dreams 

The industry – consumers and businesses alike – are championing the cause, helping to change the mindsets of people. In particular, various entrepreneurs and companies in the coffee market are working increasingly harder to provide alternatives to single-use cups and other plastics in the industry. Their underlying philosophy is the same: Initiating small changes in our daily routine which can help smooth the way for positive change.

David McLagan, founder of Ecoffee Cup – the re-usable bamboo coffee cup – perhaps summarised it best when he said that changing attitudes towards consumption and waste will be the catalyst for change. “By raising awareness of the issues, we will be able to influence consumer consciousness to the point that we see a marked change in attitudes and increasing numbers of people switching to reusabales.”

At the risk of descending into morbid melodrama, there is hope and we are all a part of it. By supporting these revolutionary endeavours and concepts and, ultimately changing our mindsets toward a plastic-free way of life, we will be to go at least some way toward cleaning up the future of today. And tomorrow. 

Here are some options available in SA, you can find a lot of these at your favourite local cafes:

Ecoffee Cup

Ecoffee Cup is a new take on the reusable takeaway cup. It is created with the world’s fastest growing, most sustainable crop – bamboo fibre (and corn starch) and is BPA and phthalate free. 

“The mindset is definitely starting to change in the market,” says Reynold Leegerstee of Ecoffee Cup in South Africa. “If we think back to the days we started it was quite a hard sell to get something like this into retail. It required some real hard work to explain the benefits to people,” he says. What definitely supports the uptake of Ecoffee Cup is the variety of designs. “Creating something beautiful and desirable eases consumers into using products benefitting our environment”.

According to Leegerstee, now the retailers (and their customers) are asking for it. “Not only in retail but also on the corporate side of things, which is a big part of our sales,” he says. 

The cups are dishwasher-safe and so reusable over and over. Ecoffee Cup have worked with cafes, schools, universities, roasteries, hospitals and corporates to create a product of which people can genuinely be proud of – and actively want to re-use over and over again. The idea is simple, buy a cup and take that with you to the coffee shop when you order your coffee to go. 

“We are still a bit behind here in South Africa, but catching up fast,” Leegerstee says, explaining that the Ecoffee Cup has been available for nearly a decade in Europe. “The awareness is much better than a few years ago and this is being followed by concrete action. It’s great to see.”


RECUP, as the name suggests, is a cup deposit system. It was born from the idea (of getting away from single-use cups) by two German students in 2016. Today more than 20 cities in Germany are on the programme, with over 2000 coffee shops and cafes in cities such as Munich, Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne offering the product.

“I think a lot of people don’t realise their ‘paper’ coffee cups are lined with plastic,” says RECUP’s  Charles Denison. “In fact, there is enough plastic in one 250ml cup and lid to make eight straws!  Straws seemed to be the easy target for the anti-plastic campaign. What we have realised is that plastic is not the problem, but single-use is,” he says. 

The RECUP system is now in South Africa too and all affiliated outlets where it is available can be found on RECUP-app. And it’s catching on fast. “We already have two stores who are only doing reusable cups and zero single-use cups,” says Denison. “In fact Steampunk in the Midlands was the first in SA to do so, and possibly one of the first in the world.  In Germany around 20% of their 2500 RECUP partners don’t allow single-use.  I think once we get critical mass, and customer awareness increases, we can (and should), as an industry make a stand as one."

The deposit system – which allows you to pay a deposit for the coffee-to-go cup of your choice –  avoids disposable waste and saves resources. Once you’ve enjoyed your coffee you simply return the cup to the café for a refund, or you can hand your dirty cup in to be washed by any partner outlet and get your coffee in a clean RECUP. 

In addition you buy your own lid, which fits on all of the size cups and reuse it every time. 

Lizzard Vacuum Flasks

Lizzard’s double-walled vacuum sealed stainless steel flasks have been designed to be portable and durable. They’re made out fo 18/8 stainless steel (the highest grade used for food preparation) and feature a leak-proof lid. The flask allows you to keep your coffee warm for up to eight hours. “Obviously as a surf brand we are super concerned about the ocean and well aware of how much plastics pollution is going into it,” says Chris Hall-Jones from Lizzard. “We all see how much single-use is getting done in an area in which we could be involved in and make a difference (as a surf brand) without getting into he whole kitchen utensil business,” he says. 


Where and when reusable cups and other vessels are not possible, (easily) biodegradable packaging is the obvious next choice. Enviromall supplies sustainable packaging products to the South African hospitality industry made from plants rather than oils. For example, EcoCups are made using board from managed plantations, coated with a thin layer of plant-based plastic (PLA). To radically paraphrase the science, these take-away coffee cups are 100% compostable and biodegradable, and will break down in any home or commercial composting facility. 

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!

Summer Edition: Rise Up, Africa

Tuesday, 3 December, 2019

“And I'm so glad we made it, so glad we made it
You got to, gimme some lovin', gimme, gimme some lovin'
Gimme some lovin', gimme, gimme some lovin'
Gimme some lovin' everyday, yeah!”

When I (Mel, the Editor) first heard this classic track by the Spencer Davis Group, I misheard the lyrics as “gimme Summer lovin’” and I’ve never quite been able to shake the Summer from this feel good song 🌞The Summer 2020 Edition is our 30th Issue, our biggest yet at 100pages and as the song says, I’m so glad we made it! 

We’re so grateful that we get to celebrate this milestone by shining a light on the amazing coffee culture throughout Africa. Cover illustration by the super talented @phathudesigns and besides our Africa focus there are Foodie cafes, new brewing devices, our annual Ultimate Coffee Gift Guide, easy tips to train your coffee tasting palate, the affects of climate change on coffee growing and a birding adventure! See more details about the contents of this incredible issue below.

How can you get your hands on a copy, you ask? 

Well, we have been growing our list of Distributors over the last 8 years and are proud to be supported by amazing cafes across the country who stock our title. We have also recently expanded to be in some select mainstream locations. Check out our Distribution List here to see your closest location.

Cover: Africa Rising

Anastasia Prikhodko investigates why you should make your next cup of coffee using beans from one of the many origin countries in Africa. Every bean holds a story and international interest in this incredible export is steadily on the rise.

Travel: The Local Brew

Drinking coffee in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Egypt is an educational and delicious experience. Let Matt Carter take you on an adventure!

Discover: Progress through practice 

Interview with an expat coffee and tea farmer in Tanzania growing on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and investing in the community

Origin: The Education of a Millennial in East Africa

Perspective is everything, as Benjamin Jenkin discovers while exploring coffee in Uganda. An eye-opening read on the state of things at origin.

Roast: The Jelly Bean Method

Easy and fun ways to improve your coffee tasting palate

Review: New Kid on the Brewing Block

We investigate The Legend (The AeroPress) vs The Rookie (The Delter Press) and make some surprising discoveries.

Culture: What does the Spirit of Africa mean to you?

Pang Isaac explores this through the lens of coffee culture. Feast your eyes.

Brew: The story of the Golden Pipit and the God Shot 

Obscure obsessions collide in this tale of birding and brewing coffee in the bush.

The Ultimate Coffee Gift Guide

Ideas for the human in your life who absolutely can’t get enough coffee or coffee related gadgets.

Environment: Coffee and the Three Bears

A cautionary, but optimistic, tale of the affect of climate change on coffee production by Dr Alessandro Craparo

Discover Great Coffee: Cafe’s That Cook

Three of our favourite foodie cafes impart some of their favourite recipes. Exciting!

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!