“Where you heading after this?” My friend Deon asked me as we paddled back to the take off point at the legendary Supertubes of Jeffrey’s Bay, my legs still burning from the many turns and bracing against the force of one of the best waves in the world.
“Hogsback” I replied. “Bit of a long haul”.
“You better stop at Nanaga on the way then” he says, a glint in his eye.
“Na-what?” I say.
“Nanaga. They are famous for their Pumba-pies!”
A few more waves, a couple meetings and about 100km later, I take the turn off to the Nanaga Farm Stall. My expectations are not very high, but I if Deon said it was good, then I will stake my life on it, even if I've never tasted warthog before...in any kind of dish!
I am so thoroughly taken by the whole experience. The ladies working at the Farm Stall restaurant are so lovely, and they too have me seated and ready to devour my warthog pie, with the mandatory pineapple juice and a pretty great coffee. Vera was the barista, and she was absolutely wonderful. I had a double ristretto, topped with beautifully microtextured milk, and even a flourish of latte art!
The warthog pie was sensational, served with an onion chutney that you only find in farm stall and in country homesteads.
If you are ever traveling anywhere in the Eastern Cape, you need to tick nonage off your bucket list.
The legendary home of the warthog pie.
Vera, the barista, who made me a delicious cappuccino, using Uber coffee and First Choice full cream fresh milk!
Such beautiful presentation!
Nanaga is an Eastern Cape institution, and we highly recommend you visit!
Pineapples and pie!
I was not disappointed!
The skill (not art) of roasting coffee
We always talk about the art of coffee. We view coffee as an art form, as something that is driven by passion and our mutual love for coffee. But passion should be backed-up by skill. Neither your passion for coffee nor your coffee roasting machine can stand alone. It has to be substantiated somehow. That is where skill comes in.
At Genio, we like to go one step further: we take the coffee roaster - the equipment - out of the picture. Roasting should not primarily be about the equipment that you have. Roasting should be about connecting your skill with the process to accentuate the very best aromas and flavours in your coffees. Great machinery makes that connection easier to achieve and maintain, but which machine you have should not determine your success. Instead, the focus should be on the coffee and the person that is roasting it. Leave the machinery to us while you focus on the coffee and improving your roasting skills.
Should you today, be an aspiring coffee roaster or an old hand at it, it is never too early nor too late to gain more knowledge and to further hone your roasting skills. After all, life is a continuous process of learning. I have this favourite saying that I keep in my drawer; sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. Recently, my team and I committed to improving the training of our clients. We found that, without sufficient training, our clients often fall short when it comes to understanding why things are happening during a roast. We see this with even our most passionate customers: there is a gap between achieving an incredible result and replicating that same result with confidence. I believe that training is the link between those incredible results and replicating them through understanding.
In the past, training in the skill (and art) of roasting has been extremely limited. Other than apprenticeships, which in themselves are innately subjective, there was no way of considering oneself “trained” in roasting. But this has all changed. Now, we have a variety of sources and platforms to fuel our passion for coffee roasting with valuable information and the fundamentals of best practice from associations such as the SCA Roasting courses with local ASTs (Authorized SCA Trainers) popping up everywhere. I tend to favour certified courses to lay a solid foundation and set-up one’s knowledge base. It ensures some form of discipline, order and standard in the learning material. A good foundation is easy to build upon. Breaking away from the formal route, we have YouTube that hosts an endless stream of content right to our living rooms, and even websites like Udemy that offers affordable roaster training courses.
In addition to training courses, you should also expose yourself to the different approaches from industry leaders such as Scott Rao, Morten München, David Hoos and James Hoffman. They will give you a multi-disciplinary view on important topics such as coffee profiling, Rate-of-Rise and extraction curve analyses. Most of them have blogs, videos and books available to fuel your passion and ensure a deeper understanding of the topic at hand (#shamelessplug: check out Genio Roasters’ website for our library of roasting books). While blogs and books may not necessarily replace training, I do believe that reading brings with it a measure of consistency through the authority and experience of the author.
While I love and appreciate the passionate individuals who bring people together through coffee, I think that your passion for coffee can only be passed on through skill. Skill is infinitely transferrable. Passion so often becomes locked-in because few others share it. Skill brings consistency to an innately subjective craft. Through training and experience, you can get the skills needed to hone your craft into something truly inspiring: Passion backed up with skills.
Have the passion. Seek the skill.
Written by Neil Maree and Elsie Potgieter
Checking out the surf at Muzies, I stumbled upon Hans & Lloyd Coffee Co, drawn to the cafe by the mini roaster at the entranceway.
Hans & Lloyd manages to deftly blend surf and coffee culture, so well in fact that until the caffeine hits your blood stream you would be forgiven for thinking you're in one of the trendiest spots on a metropolitan high street. It's only when you look closer, you see the tasteful black and white photography is all of surfing, ocean and beaches, even adorning the majestic Sanremo F18.
They're serving up their House Blend, called Outer Kom. Obviously the ocean runs deep in the veins of this team! It was rich and paired well with the milk in my flat white. Hans & Lloyd is the cafe arm of Importers Coffee and we're so stoked they made the decision to go this route. A fantastic addition to the Surfers Corner strip!
Look, it's not a terrible view.
The view from up here! Welcome to Brothers Coffee!
So there's not a huge chance that you would stumble upon the coffee roastery known as Brothers. It's a fairly off-the-main-road sort of spot, but you will be glad you made the effort if you do take the road less travelled and visit Brothers, located just outside groot Brak, a short drive away from George on the Garden Route.
While they like to use the roastery for tastings and training, you may have tasted their wares at many popular locations along the Garden Route. I was thrilled to meet Carmen, who does 90% of the roasting, and submitted the coffee that scored them 2nd place in 2019's A Shot in the Dark.
Ben and Carmen - Owner and Roaster (though we did find Ben trial roasting some exciting new coffees when we arrived!)
Carmen, Ben and Michael on bar.
A delicious cortado of the Brothers house blend, Bugolobi.
Brothers is primarily a roastery, though Ben did tell us that people seem to follow the coffee and turn up at his place, especially during lockdown when holiday makers to the Garden Route couldn;t go to the beach, they started to explore the local area more.
Brothers is beautifully set up in the tranquil valley over looking Groot Brak, and is the perfect place to spend a few tranquil hours with coffee in hand, enjoying a good book or magazine and stocking up on all the coffee goodies and gadgets you could ever want! We are thoroughly pleased we did.
The dappled shade of the ancient oak trees lend Ikigai a sense of austerity and calm, like it's been there forever.
Ikigai (pronounced [ikiÉ¡ai]) is a Japanese concept that means "a reason for being". The word refers to having a direction or purpose in life, that which makes one's life worthwhile, and towards which an individual takes spontaneous and willing actions giving them satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life. (Thanks Wiki!)
What a beautiful location in the sweet town of Swellendam! Ikigai Coffee is sure to win you over.
Japanese inspiration. Ikigai is a nod to clean lines and simplicity.
We certainly would never have assumed that Swellendam was such a gem of a small town in South Africa, but were proven very wrong and with a coffee spot as gorgeous as Ikigai, serving up delicious coffee from Origin Coffee Roasting, what more could you ask for!
Elandi Coetzee, one of the founders and owners of the growing business, was luckily enough on site and she was a delight to talk to.
'The name was my sister's idea. She wanted something different and loves the idea of the Japanese way of life and culture. It may be a bit difficult to pronounce at first but we like it!"
"Of course it has been a tough year, and Swellendam is a town that needs tourism to survive, but we have been very lucky and we have a lot of local support. Our Riverdale branch, the original, has had an upgrade too during this time, so we're optimistic about the future!"
They have a lovely retail section which has a collection of things that it is hard to say no to.
It's places like these that just ooze positivity and welcoming vibes that continually make us so happy to be part of the coffee industry and to spread the word about all shapes and sizes of coffee outlets.
So if you ever find yourself with an opportunity to wind your way through Swellendam, do it and pop in to say hi to the team at Ikigai
A delicious and luxurious Flat White at Ikigai.
A beautiful space, we highly recommend you visit!
We were recently approached by the team at Sucafina Specialty at a time when they are involved in an aggressive expansion plan, that despite the impacts of 2020, is taking shape in 2021 in a big way.
We know that the aesthetics only get you so far, but we are pretty smitten with their Originals Range, which is a really interesting range of a blend of beans from a single origin.
We caught up with them to find out a bit more about the drive behind this quickly expanding team!
What is the ethos of Sucafina Specialty?
Sucafina Specialty is ultimately about shared value and making supply chain relations more equitable and profitable for all. We are a vertically integrated company, meaning that we have operations in many of the countries where we source coffee. This helps us to identify areas where we can make our operations more efficient, ultimately helping us pass more value directly onto the coffee producer and the roaster.
Another big part of how we operate is the concept of ‘whole farm profitability’. Essentially, while we certainly focus on bringing high quality, specialty coffees to markets (and making sure producers are well-remunerated for their efforts), we know that most coffee farms, big and small, will produce a wide range of qualities. In order to be truly sustainable, they need to be able to sell all of their coffee, not just the small, top-end portion of their production. Equally, for a roaster the ‘ideal’ coffee can change depending on purpose and audience! This is why, whenever possible, we work to find homes for as much of a farmer’s coffee as possible while also offering a wide range of coffees to our customers. This is why our motto is: macrolot to microlot.
We have pretty big goals for change, and building a more equitable and transparent supply chain doesn’t happen overnight. But we try and keep that long-term vision while also celebrating the small victories in the short term. I would say we are realistic about the amount of work that still needs to be done, but we have lofty goals and ideals that guide us!
Tell us about your Sucafina Originals and the story behind these coffees? (We are obsessed with the branding, so gorgeous!)
Our Originals came about through our commitment to whole-farm sourcing and our commitment to quality. Pretty much out of our ethos! We saw a lot of demand for quality and consistency in single-origin blends that would be affordable to a wide range of customers while still ensuring decent prices for producers . We realised we could harness the breadth and depth of our vertically integrated supply chains, rely on our truly excellent QC teams at origin to ensure a consistent cup profile and score from lot to lot, and offer that perfect win-win for producers and roasters, alike. We love the branding too! One of the guiding principles was to draw focus to a key part of each country’s culture or wildlife, and then to have a bit of fun with the designs.
What can roasters expect from the Sucafina Team and what makes you an ideal green bean supplier?
The first thing they can expect is great service married with a wide range of expertise. We have a really amazing global team, and we work together to make sure our customers and suppliers are benefitting from the relationship. Sucafina as a company really does hold a set of shared values and purpose and a deep belief in what we are doing together as a company. As individuals we all share the same commitment to sustainability through caring for people, the environment and the well-being of the farmers we work with. This comes through in all our interactions, both with our suppliers and our customers.
Customers can rely on us for a wide range of coffee offerings, whether they are looking for a nano-lot of something truly unique and stand-out, or for that great all-rounder that works equally well as a filter and espresso base. We are unusual, in my experience, in that we really can tick all the coffee boxes, and if we don’t have something available that very second, we can find a way to get it for you.
You’re a company based in Europe (but expanding), and we’re on the Southern tip of Africa, what attracts you to this market?
We are expanding for sure, and we’ve got offices all over the world. Currently, sales to South Africa are managed out of our Antwerp office. We have a designated trader for the Middleast and North Africa and keep a spot position in Dubai. We had seen a bit of interest in our Dubai offer lists from roasters in South Africa, and in the course of our conversations realised that South Africa has a hugely vibrant and diverse roasting community. There’s so much good energy, and we think there are a lot of roasters we haven’t even met yet that share our values.
Are there any coffees in your offering that are really blowing your mind right now? What makes them so special?
Well, first of all, ALL our coffees blow our minds :) But in particular, our Indonesia offerings keep impressing us more every year. The quality was already great, and it keeps getting better as Daniel, our Manager for Indonesia, and his team work towards deepening our partnerships there. We’ve got two lots on the way to Dubai from the Koerintji Barokah Bersama cooperative. We’ve partnered with these guys for a couple of years now, and you can see the result of all their hard work in the cup. The Sumatra Kerinci Gunung Tujuh Natural and Washed will arrive in Dubai later this month. Not only are both of these coffees of exceptional quality, each bag purchase also generates a donation of 1 avocado tree to Barokah member farmers. These tree seedlings will provide much needed shade and organic material for fertilizer, AND they’ll help generate an additional source of income for farmers.
If you'd like to read a bit more of the business happenings behind the company that are allowing them more accessibility to the South African Region, you can read the Press Releases below. Amazing to see such growth in amidst the crazy happenings of C-19!
SUCAFINA ACQUIRES MAJORITY INTEREST IN COMPLETE COFFEE LIMITED (CCL)
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – On 4 January 2021, Sucafina – a leading sustainable Farm to Roaster coffee company – announced an agreement to take a majority interest in Complete Coffee Limited (CCL) alongside the Breminer family, which will retain participation in the company.
The new partnership will provide added value for CCL’s customers, expanding coffee offerings in soluble, specialty and mainstream green coffees. CCL will have immediate access to Sucafina’s extensive global network of coffee supply chains and expertise.
Complete Coffee Limited has grown substantially over the years since its founding in 1929 as Alan J. Ridge & Co Ltd, its merger with Ernest A. Breminer Ltd. in 1943, and acquisition of Priory Tea and Coffee in 1986. Under the leadership of the Breminer family and its current chairman, Mr. Ian Breminer, CCL has a long and storied reputation in the global coffee industry, trading soluble and green coffees to a variety of domestic and international clients.
“Although the company trades internationally, our biggest market is the United Kingdom. This partnership with Sucafina will enable us to bring economies of scale, many new origins, as well as risk management and finance strength to enhance our offers to our UK clientele,” says Mr. Ian Breminer, CCL’s Executive Chairman who will continue to lead CCL as it enters this new phase alongside Sucafina.
Cory Bush, Managing Director of CCL, says “We anticipate adding people and resources over the course of 2021 to help accommodate our plans for the United Kingdom. Sucafina is also looking at additional acquisitions in other geographies as part of our strategic growth plans.”
Sucafina SA, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, is poised to contribute greatly to and share in these plans. “Both Sucafina and CCL have grown from strong family-owned beginnings that are based on shared values,” says Sucafina CEO Nicolas A. Tamari. “We welcome CCL to the Sucafina family and look forward to working together to serve the entirety of the British coffee market.”
SUCAFINA OPENS NEW OFFICES IN INDONESIA
PT Sucafina Indonesia Coffee will bring the best of Indonesian coffees to the world.
BANDUNG, INDONESIA – Sucafina – a leading sustainable Farm to Roaster, Swiss-based coffee company – has established an Indonesia-based company, PT Sucafina Indonesia Coffee, to support their work with Indonesian coffee farmers. Sucafina Indonesia works directly with farmers, producers, dry mills and exporters. They develop, promote and deliver coffees from Sumatra, Java, Bali, Flores and Sulawesi to the international market and import globally sourced green coffee for domestic roasters.
Sucafina brings decades of quality and trade expertise from East Africa and South America to producers and processors in Indonesia. Established in late 2020, Sucafina Indonesia is based in Bandung, West Java with auxiliary staff located in Lampung and Medan.
Sucafina Indonesia will focus on building partnerships and providing financing, quality control, marketing and logistics to producers and local shippers to optimize efficiencies through the existing local infrastructure. Their two cupping labs and experienced local team enable Sucafina Indonesia to provide quality assurance and logistical support throughout the supply chain.
Several of their exclusive partnerships have already positively impacted coffee production in Indonesia. Sucafina Indonesia has invested in assisting partners to improve quality and market access, thus improving returns on coffee production. Additionally, in July 2020, Sucafina Indonesia’s partnership with Koerintji Barokah Bersama cooperative and local governments made it possible to export locally grown coffee from the Port of Jambi for the first time ever. With this shorter trade route, the Cooperative stands to capture greater returns on their coffee and garner the support of the provincial government in developing their production capacity.
Indonesia is fast becoming a significant domestic coffee market for a wide range of local and imported coffees. In addition to their producing & exporting partnerships, Sucafina will also offer inventory featuring coffees sourced from Indonesia and beyond.
Daniel Shewmaker, Sucafina’s Manager for Indonesia & Timor-Leste, will continue to oversee operations in the country. "Indonesia's coffee sector is dynamic and rapidly evolving, with layers of complexity and diversity,” he stated. “The establishment of PT Sucafina Indonesia will allow us to offer a wider range of services and opportunities for both producers and roasters."
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.
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.
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.
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!