New Kid on the Block: Toasted

Friday, 4 December, 2020

What a joy to be on the road again! Out discovering new spots that have coffee as an essential addition to their offering is one of our favourite things to do.


138 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, JHB

On the recommendation of their coffee supplier, Amy of Humble Coffee in Durban, we went on the hunt for Toasted. I say hunt, because it's not the easiest to find, but it is well worth the adventure. It lives inside a building on Jan Smuts Avenue and is not directly visible from the road. You just buzz 138 and they will let you inside to explore the courtyard that is home to Toasted.  

Dana and the team are simply lovely, it's a women-led space and we love it! So attentive and such a calming vibe about the place. As a business that is just over a month old, they know that every new person that walks through the doors could become a future regular and from our experience, they certainly have a way of charming you. I instantly felt as though I could easily spend a whole day happily munching and sipping in the company o these fine folk. Not to mention that the toasties are kind of a big deal!

We tried the classic Cheesey and on Dana's recommendation the Nutty Mushroom & Feta. WOW! So tasty. Beautifully presented and the garnish that looks so good, pairs perfectly as a dipping sauce for your choice of toasted deliciousness. It was HOT, so we paired our toasties with a cup of batch and a refreshing mint and lime iced tea.

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10 ideas about coffee to live by - a Manifesto for coffee!

Thursday, 26 November, 2020

Susan Abulahwa is a writer, activist and founder of Playgrounds for Palestine. She wrote a really cool "Manifesto for Living” which you can find here:

We were really inspired by this, and so we thought we should come up with our own “Manifesto for Coffee!”  based more or less on Susan’s original :)

1. Words - Tell the truth and speak truth to the coffee you are drinking, especially when it is inconvenient.

2. Beans or Ground  - Ground coffee quickly loses flavour. Always side with beans (if you can!)

3. Farmers - Coffee Farmers are the lifeblood of our coffee. Always try to support them as directly as you can.

4. Friends - Friends don’t let friends drink bad coffee!

5. Nature - Spend time in nature as often as you can and know that coffee is an organic product of the earth. Love her always.

6. Baristas - Baristas work to please you, to serve you, to make your day better through the coffee they serve you. Love them back and tip them well.  

7. Work - We use coffee to help us work. Every day. Take a minute to sip, savour and celebrate where it has come and how much it helps us.

8. Purpose - A good grinder will give you purpose in your coffee life. Invest in one. Do it right now.

9. Water - Water,  in coffee and in everything else, is life. Respect your water like you respect the very air you breathe, because it is that important.

10. Share - Share your passion and your knowledge for coffee with everyone you meet and help us to grow this wonderful culture.

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Red Espresso celebrates 15 Years with two awards and an amazing giveaway!

Thursday, 26 November, 2020

Red Espresso celebrates 15 years of innovation with 2 international awards

red espresso® has been your favourite healthy coffee alternative since 2005. From bringing you their classic rooibos red cappuccino® to their spiced chai latte and a colourful range of superfood lattes, it just keeps getting better and better for café lovers. 

This month they celebrate 15 years of innovation and what could be more apt than winning two international awards that honour the incredible achievements this company has made and the people responsible for making it happen since the very beginning: 

Corporate Vision UK Beverage Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 goes to Pete Ethelston, Co-founder and Managing Director of red espresso ® for “success demonstrated through innovative products and an exemplary reputation within the industry and customer satisfaction across the board.”

Lux Life UK Food and Drink Awards Most Innovative Specialty Beverage 2020 goes to Nic Reid, Head of Product Development at red espresso®. This award “commends businesses who prove themselves to be innovators in one of the world’s most competitive industries by bringing fresh, exciting ideas forward, and celebrates the outstanding achievements made by those looking to solidify their reputation as industry leaders.”

To win these esteemed awards during a year as tough as 2020 is no small feat for our home-grown entrepreneurs and we take our hats off to this family-run business for their passion, creativity, hard work and determination. They’ve now won a total of eight awards for pioneering healthy café culture and we have no doubt that they will continue to inspire and delight us (and the world) in the years to come! 

We caught up with Nic Reid, the man behind the delicious drinks you’ve come to love, to find out more about where he gets his inspiration from and just how exactly he does what he does!

You were trailblazers with the red espresso® product, where do you draw inspiration from for new products to introduce? Do you look to international trends to inform your decisions?

We watch international trends very closely. Consumer trends, beverage trends, food trends and diet choices are influencing food and drinks menus hugely. In today’s world with Instagram etc. cafes and restaurants are very much aware of what’s happening in other parts of the world and they are quick to adapt and offer something that helps set them apart from competitors.

Our current inspiration is to develop our take on café menu staples. For example our vegan-friendly spiced chai. The taste profile is more true to what we think a good chai tastes like and we made sure that it contains no milk ingredients, milk derivatives or any soy ingredients. We use real Indian spices and black tea extract. We also use organic coconut sugar in our recipe to help sweeten our chai. It adds a delicious caramel note and isn’t quite as sweet as regular sugar. In fact it’s very similar to jaggery - which is a more concentrated sugar made from date or palm trees. Jaggery is traditionally used in India to sweeten chai.

Health is obviously a buzz word in this category, what are some of the benefits?

Consumers are looking for cleaner label, more authentic products. A clean label can mean different things to different people; it could mean a short ingredient list, only organic ingredients or perhaps an ingredient list with only natural, recognizable ingredients. For the most part these personal decisions tie back to healthier choices. Consumers are now better clued up to understand labels and I believe they will seek out products and cafes that share their values. Shorter ingredient lists force developers to use better quality ingredients as you have to rely more on the taste of these ingredients to deliver rather than hiding or enhancing them with additives or flavourings. Ingredients that offer functional benefits or are vegan-friendly will continue to gain traction 

What sort of taste tests do your products go through?

Once I have a basic recipe that I’m happy with I share it with everyone in the office. I get brutally honest feedback right away! We have a full café setup to replicate how drinks would be made and would taste in a real café environment. Once we think it tastes good, we send it out to a few of our longstanding customers who then serve it to their regulars. This is the best way to get feedback. We sometimes tweak the recipe slightly and then send out samples for more customers to try with all orders placed on our website. We also sell direct to the public and have a lot of regular customers that pop in to buy stock so we serve them our new recipes for feedback too.

Here’s to many more successes for the red espresso® team – we can’t wait to see what tasty treasures you bring us next!

To celebrate their 15th birthday, red espresso® are giving away not one but two special prizes to you and a friend. You can both win one of their newly launched Vanilla or Spiced Chai Latte Tins and a Bodum Milk Frother valued at R750. To enter follow this simple two-step process:

  1. Follow @redespressso and @thecoffeemag
  2. Tag a friend in the comments that you want to be sipping pretty with

You can buy red espresso® direct online

You can find it in-store at Woolworths, Dischem and select @home, Checkers, Spar and Pick n Pay stores nationwide.

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Join the Muizenberg nurdle Beach Clean up and get a free vida e caffe coffee!

Friday, 20 November, 2020

Ocean pollution is a huge ongoing problem and can seem like an overwhelming thing to try to fight, but as South African's with thousands of kilometeres of pristine coastline, and something that we collectively enjoy and need to protect, this is a call to action!

Last week there was a huge nurdle spill off the Cape Coast. Nurdles are those little plastic balls that are used in the manufacture of plastic products by being melted down and moulded into shape, however as nurdles, they are incredibly dangerous to sea-life and to our coastal eco-systems, especially when millions of tons of them are lost at sea and much like an oil slick, kill all the marine wildlife in their path, but unlike an oil slick, they are tiny and transparent, making them hard to see.

Tomorrow, Saturday 21 November, starting at 9am there is a massive beach clean up happening at Muizenburg beach in Cape Town.  Vida e Caffe will be there to support the cause and will be serving free coffee to people who bring their own reuable coffee cup. Look for the vida station at Surfers Corner close to the Surf Emporium store. 

Take your own reusable ones like these eCoffee Cups:

Nurdles. Deadly to marine life.

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Some of the most unusual and beautiful cafes in the world!

Friday, 20 November, 2020

Weird and Wonderful

Words by: Priyanka Govender and Melanie Winter

Celebrating the rebellious and fun side of coffee! Here we showcase five of the most beautiful, unique and outrageous cafes across the world. From quirky London interiors to unusual Australian artistry, these coffee hot spots are bursting with flavour! 

Talormade - Oslo, Norway

With over 20 years of experience in the coffee industry, Talor Browne, the eponymous owner of this quirky cafe, is well versed in the art of slinging ‘cinos. Her illustrious career reads like a rolodex of coffee fuelled success, and her passion for bringing people together has remained at the core of her entrepreneurial mindset. "The whole idea was simple: roast delicious coffees the way that people like them, be transparent and kind and most importantly: have fun!”, was the foundation upon which she built “Talormade”, a vibrant coffee and doughnut cafe in Oslo’s Lillo Gård. Renowned for their authentic roastery and their stunning selection of gourmet doughnuts, this cafe is a utopia of sorts for foodies and design enthusiasts alike. Opting for bold colours, abstract graphics and striking neon signage, this colourful cafe is quite literally unmissable!

The strong juxtaposition of pastel pink walls, rainbow coloured doughnuts and glowing neon artistry is symbolic of Talormade’s desire to share fun and positivity through coffee. With unique flavour combinations like whiskey bacon, and decadent variants like champagne glazed gold-plated doughnuts, it’s clear that Talormade is anything but generic. Be sure to stop by for a cup of happiness from their roastery, and don’t forget to snap a pic of yourself in neon paradise!

Brother Baba Budan - Melbourne, Australia

Based in Melbourne, a city built on urban dynamism, Brother Baba Budan is every bit as intriguing as it sounds. Named after Baba Budan, a renowned merchant who cheekily smuggled seven coffee seeds out of Yemen, this contemporary cafe truly encapsulates the rebellious side of coffee! From their signature Seven Seeds Espresso Blend, to their single origins, the cafe is always abuzz with the chatter of happy customers. This quaint cafe is decked in personality, passion and an unfaltering commitment towards fair trade coffee. The modern glass exterior, once adorned with the words “We believe in the future of coffee”, keeps that ethos going on a daily basis.

This artisanal cafe boasts a cosy and relaxed atmosphere, courtesy of the softly-lit exposed filament bulbs and whimsical interior design. A stunning manifestation of the “hipster chic” school of design, Brother Baba Budan must be commended for their ability to maintain an original and authentic presence in a coffee saturated world. Upon entering, people are immediately enthralled by the tapestry of suspended wooden chairs, a visual so magical that it would not be out of place in a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale. Shelves lined with indoor greenery, quirky trinkets and bags of premium roasted coffee beans further enhance the beauty of this intimate space. Perpetually abuzz with rotating crowds of coffee-lovers, there is never a dull moment where Brother Baba Budan is concerned. Also, did we mention there are chairs on the ceiling?

The Note Coffee - Hanoi, Vietnam

One of the most unique and visually stunning cafes on this list has got to be The Note Coffee in Hanoi! Located in a bustling cityscape, this unassuming cafe offers a plethora of romance, aesthetic excellence, and good old fashioned fun! Every inch of this cafe is covered in colourful post-it notes written by locals and hopeless romantics from all over the world! They say that dynamite comes in small packages, and the abundance of love and vibrant creativity flowing through this quaint cafe is definitely proof of that! This cafe truly demonstrates the power of unity within a simple cup of coffee. It is absolutely surreal to think that thousands of strangers have decoupaged little pieces of their hearts on the tables, chairs and walls of a tiny cafe in Northern Vietnam.

The Note Coffee’s emotive slogan, “the most sincere letters are never sent” perfectly encapsulates the premise of their business. Much like the famous love lock bridge in Paris, travellers flock from far and wide to visit The Note Coffee. Writing one’s innermost thoughts and personal feelings onto brightly coloured squares of paper for all to see is no mean feat, and if anything, it speaks to the resounding hopefulness that we as human beings share. The Note Coffee, in their efforts to bring people from all walks of life together, have created sheer magic and profound positivity. From a cup of coffee to a colourful post-it note, this cafe spreads love in a time when people need it the most. 

The Attendant - Fitzrovia, United Kingdom

“With our first site situated in a quirky, disused Victorian toilet in Fitzrovia, we made it our mission as a company to create a different experience from store to store. We strive to bring people out of the daily 9-5 grind; to create a place to take a moment, gather one’s thoughts, refuel and get right back to it.”

Yes, you read right, the founders of The Attendant, Ryan and Bosh, started their first cafe in the most unlikely of locations:  a subterranean former gentlemen’s lavatory on the corner of Foley Street and Great Titchfield Street in London. It was transformed into a café with stools at the now sparkling and re-enamelled urinals after lying dormant for 50 years. Truly a unique experience. 

Now with two other locations above ground and not in lavatories, each still bare the marks of the unusual space that started it all, immediately recognisable by their signature whitewashed walls, resplendent green subway tiles and rustic copper pendant lamps. 

While the original is perhaps not a place where you linger, it is certainly a worthwhile excursion and the coffee is top notch. They pride themselves on serving on speciality beans and roast and package them so you can take some home with you. Coffee with a story, that’s certainly guaranteed when you visit this underground wonder.

Onyx Coffee Lab - Arkansas, USA

Onyx Coffee Lab, located in Northwest Arkansas, is an artistic expose of the love affair we all share with coffee. The brainchild of husband and wife duo, Jon and Andrea Allen (Andrea is the recently crowned, 2020 USA Barista Champion!), this slate of cafes is dedicated to art, authenticity and above all, the science of coffee. Upon entering any of their cafes, customers are treated to a sensory feast as textural variance, bold colour palettes and the unmistakable aroma of freshly brewed coffee fills the air. But their newest location inside The Momentary, a contemporary art space, really lifts the bar. Did we mention that that bar is in this case almost solely pink with white accents? Such delicious shades of pink.

From the Modbar custom pink groupheads, to the textured, mosaic walls, to the tinted pink glassware that your perfectly extracted coffee gets served in. We could go on, but we would have to list a lot of beautiful objects in this concept cafe. Another wild feature, is a conveyer belt that sends coffee to other parts of the gallery. What?! Believe it, because it's true.

By merging elements of the art deco era with contemporary minimalism, patrons enjoy a fascinating visual showcase of the beauty this team finds in coffee. Building on the motif of the science of coffee, Onyx Coffee Lab honours its name by curating niche spaces where espresso education and high-tech machinery are commonplace. On another outrageous note, their Headquarters location where the roasting goodness happens, has a whopping 11 hoppers on the counter- that’s a lot of grinders! Customers are truly spoiled for choice. Designed to promote an interactive experience between barista and patrons, the freedom of diversified choice has resulted in tasty and outrageous coffee combinations. 

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Trailer: Coffee Heroes Film

Thursday, 19 November, 2020

We are lucky enough to have been able to see a pre-release screening of Coffee Heroes and we can thoroughly recommend it. An incredible coffee adventure! Great to get some insight into how the different personalities deal with the challenge and pressure of competition. Our publisher is also an Olympian and he could relate to Sasa’s never-say-die, always competitive attitude and I, as his business partner, could relate to how everyone else feels in the presence of that kind of intensity! This film is essential viewing for every barista who has any aspirations of winning a Championship to see the crazy level of work and dedication it takes to win or get anywhere close to the top.

Follow them, Coffee Heroes Film to see when the digital version will be released, which will be very soon! 

Coffee Heroes  follows an outwardly calm Polish barista and her journey to becoming the first female World Barista Champion. She forms an unlikely partnership with a fiercely competitive and coffee obsessed former champion as her coach.​

After winning the World Barista Championship in 2015, Sasa Sestic's obsession for coffee and competition is still paramount. In 2018, Sasa is mentoring Aga (Agnieszka Rojewska), the young barista from Poland who recently won the Polish Barista Championship. This is the 18th year of the World Barista Championship and Aga is on a mission to be the first Polish competitor and woman to ever win this competition.​

Aga and Sasa travel to remote Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, with a group of coffee connoisseurs. They are on a wild, off the beaten track adventure in search of the ‘perfect’ coffee to take to the World Championship in Amsterdam.

Coffee Heroes is a story of an unlikely partnership, a love of coffee and the obsession to fulfill a dream! This film is about history in the making for the coffee world.

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Cafe Focus: The Commonage

Tuesday, 17 November, 2020

The Commonage

362 Waterside Road, Wilderness

All images from their lovely Instagram

We heard about this little gem from one of our mates who was on a roadtrip through the garden route and so we touched based with Ross and Karen to find out about their journey with The Commonage.

How did The Commonage begin? We hear you have a BnB too?

We had the opportunity to manage a guest house for our friends and were able to turn the attached single garage into our little coffee shop. We always loved the little hidden gems we would seek out on our travels and we wanted to create something similar. We are thriving in Wilderness and have against all odds, benefited from this crazy year. We’re so happy with where our little shop is currently at and are loving it all. 

Tell us about the town of Wilderness? What do you love about the place you call home?

Wilderness is a small holiday town nestled in a little pocket between the ocean and the mountains. We love the diversity between the beach, river, forests and mountains. It is so beautiful and there is so much to do here!

What coffee roastery do you use to supply the cafe?

We get our beans from Sugarbird Roastery in George, just up the road. We knew we wanted to keep it as local as possible.

What would you say the ethos of your business is?

Keep it simple. Good coffee and community.

For someone visiting your cafe for the first time, what would you recommend they try?

We have a few 'not coffee' options which are proving quite popular and in particular the turmeric and beetroot lattes. The dirty chai is also one of our best sellers for those who want to mix up their caffeine fix.

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Rwandan Coffee Farmers lost everything in recent floods. Here's how you can help.

Tuesday, 10 November, 2020

Earlier this year we published a story in the Coffee Magazine about Rwanda as an incredible coffee producing country, through the eyes of Emmanuel, leader of Baho Coffee. He brought to our attention that the coffee growing regions had just been through a disastrous flood that ripped away years of investment and hardwork from the communities. So when we heard news of this initiative from Raw Trading, we knew we had to do our part to spread the word and get people to help if they can. Here's what Nyabi Brew aims to accomplish:

On the 25th of November, hundreds of cafes around the world will join forces to help rebuild the famous coffee growing region of Nyabihu in Rwanda.

Brutal climate events wiped out an entire coffee-growing region.

Earlier this year, as the world began to lock-down in response to COVID-19, massive floods hit Rwanda. Landslides destroyed the homes and crops of hundreds of families in the Nyabihu district. In Nyabihu, farming families rely on coffee for 65% of their income, with average household incomes being less than US$700 per annum.

“These floods and mudslides were the worst catastrophic event in our lifetimes. 28 of our friends lost their lives. Almost everyone is affected."

   - Evariste Hagumimana, manager of Shyira coffee processing station in Nyabihu

The global coffee community helped deliver emergency supplies.

The urgent appeal was answered by 850 people, raising enough money to deliver essential items to entire neighbourhoods that were suddenly without food, shelter, or income.

It is time to build a sustainable future.

Rebuilding homes, replanting trees, and investing in resilience against future climate events are the key next steps, and much of the global coffee community remains dedicated to the cause.

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