Practical ways you can help while Staying at Home

Friday, 27 March, 2020

If like us, you are feeling like you wish there was something you could do to help, other than staying at home, then this list is for you. Because you can help. We're all in this together! Support those who are less fortunate than yourselves and those who continue to work to make sure we are fed, safe and healthy during this time.

To help those who can't work in coffee and hospitality right now, see what Zapper and Coffee Monster are doing.

Gift of the Givers is on the ground continuing to deliver water and food to vulnerable communities, but have also started COVID-19 specific campaigns to:

- Support the healthcare system and the people working in it with the aim of supplying funds for the necessary equipment for protection of those working, testing equipment and equipment to help with treatment. You can donate to the Backabuddy campaign here.

- Make testing more readily available and more affordable at R750. You can read more about that here: Contributions to Gift of the Givers - Standard Bank, Pietermaritzburg, account number 052 137 228, branch code 057525, ref. Corona. Section 18A tax exempt certificate obtained by mailing to

The Litterboom Project is an organisation normally dedicated to clearing our waterways of plastic, and in the face of this pandemic have shifted focus to use plastic bottles collected to be filled with soap and hand-sanitizer and re-distributed into communities.

Gender Based Violence is expected to rise during this time, which is a horrifying reality to fathom. Please share the names and numbers of organisations that will continue to operate to support those at risk. Read more about the risks and find more resources at Masimanyane

We know there is so much more need out there, so if you have any suggestions for organisations to support during this time, please let us know in the comments.

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Coffee Monster backs the Baristas with virtual donations during lockdown

Thursday, 26 March, 2020

Coffee Monster App introduces BACK YOUR BARISTAS – a way to support our coffee community, one (virtual) cup at a time. See how it works below. Well done to the Coffee Monster Team for starting this initiative!

Many businesses in the food and beverage industry face significant losses as South Africans take precautions to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
We fully understand and support the measures being taken to keep people healthy and safe. At the same time, we want to reduce the impact this will have on businesses in our Coffee Monster community – which is why we’ve introduced the BACK YOUR BARISTA initiative. This allows you to support local coffee shops by making a contribution through the app. 

How it works:
- Find your Monster Spot on the app, as usual. 
- Then, select ‘Virtual Coffee’ from the menu. To up your contribution, you can up the number of Virtual Coffees you buy, or add a tip.
- Complete your order. So easy!

Even though you’re making a donation, not buying a brew, your order will count towards your loyalty points (10 points = 1 free coffee). So, next time you make your favourite brew at home why not share the love by ordering a Virtual Coffee from one of our Monster Spots?

If you have any questions about this initiative, or suggestions on how we can further support our baristas and Monster Spots, please get in touch with Coffee Monster.

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Zapper introduces #SaveyourFave to support hospitality industry

Friday, 27 March, 2020

Donate now with Zapper - what a great initiative from this tech team, doing their part to support local businesses.

Help prevent South African businesses from closing their doors forever. Together we can make a difference.

In response to the lockdown announcement made by President Ramaphosa on Monday 23 March, Zapper have added a new Donate feature for users to help merchants survive through this time.

If you are in a position to help, please:

  1. Make sure you're on the latest version of Zapper
  2. Tap on Zapper Nearby to find your favourite local merchants (if you don't see the Donate buttons, please refresh the app)
  3. Tap Donate, enter an amount and pay

To ensure every cent counts, all payments donated via Zapper will be processed for FREE.

From everyone at Zapper, be safe and stay healthy.

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Grazie Piero Bambi!

Thursday, 26 March, 2020

You can learn a technique, but you develop passion only through dedication, love, pride and respect for your work. – Piero Bambi

You may not know the name Piero Bambi, but you certainly know his family legacy. He was part of the family who started La Marzocco espresso machines.

 A passionate man, I once had the privilege to meet him and witness him making his espresso on the showroom floor machine at La Marzocco HQ, as was his ritual, multiple times a day. That was in 2014.

All the best to the La Marzocco family at this time, a true coffee legend!


Florence, 22 March, 2020 – Florence | March 2020 – La Marzocco, the historical Tuscan manufacturer of espresso coffee machines, grieves its Honorary President, Piero Bambi, who passed away in the early hours of March 22nd at the age of 86 in Florence, Italy. [See the video release in his honour HERE].

Son of the founder, Giuseppe, Piero Bambi has been part of the company’s history throughout his own life, driven by his great passion for coffee, beautiful mechanics, craftsmanship and design.

His love for espresso, and the technical expertise that he inherited from his father led him to achieving significant technological innovations in an aim for the best result in the cup.

While deeply tied to Italian tradition and ingenuity, Piero was open to any culture that could instill new concepts concerning espresso coffee, a beverage which he considered to be magical.

Intuitive and generous, he embraced the value of cultural and generational diversity, creating a deep bond with the global community as well as with his “skilled workers”, his master craftsmen. Although he sold the majority of the company in 1994, as Honorary President he continued to work every day, with steadfastness and devotion towards the projects and the daily life of the company.

Today, La Marzocco is grieving and is near Giovanna Bambi and the entire family.  Details of the memorial service commemorating Piero will be shared in a future communication.

“I would like to say farewell to our eternal friend Piero, our mentor and the ultimate example of a keen commitment and passion for life, with a quote by a poet from my native land:

Even the great deeds of great men come to an end, an end inscribed within their own vital spirit, and long prepared, even when it seems sudden. – Piero Chiara 

… Thank you, Piero, we will miss you.” – Guido Bernardinelli

 “For more than 40 years Piero Bambi has been my friend, my inspiration, my mentor, my partner and my teacher. Not only about espresso coffee machines and ‘caffè espresso’ but also life and culture. His contributions to the world of espresso coffee and to the lives of so many people will be remembered and appreciated. He will be missed but not forgotten. Thank you, Piero, for the gift of your spirit and the legacy that you have left for all of us to enjoy.” – Kent Bakke

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Frozen in time: Putting an end to stale coffee

Monday, 23 March, 2020

As you will read below, freezing coffee is in vogue with coffee professionals around the world. Freezing roasted coffee beans is a practice that often divides the coffee community. For some, it’s about enhancing flavour while for others it’s about playing with controversies. But whatever the cause, it is clear that freezing beans is gaining momentum, especially as a way to reduce coffee wastage. So perhaps you can try this home! And I think we can all agree, these are pretty desperate times and one cannot run out of coffee.

Tips when Freezing Coffee at Home

  • In the case of finding yourself with an over supply of bags of coffee (i.e. COVID-19 and making sure you have enough from your local who has been forced to close during lockdown): Place the full vacuum-sealed bag of coffee in the freezer, this means no condensation on the beans and no freezer burn. When you take them out of the freezer, let them come up to room temperature before you open the bag. That will prevent condensation from forming on the beans themselves.
  • Use a deep freeze if you have one, this is preferable to a fridge/freezer which is used often as this helps maintain consistent temperature.
  • If you’re really serious about it, buy a vacuum-sealer for home, and weigh out individual brewing portions to experiment with straight from freezer to grinding i.e. 15g for your next pour-over. A vacuum sealer is also fun to have if you’re a foodie and keen to try some sous-vide recipes! 

Frozen in time – Putting an end to stale coffee 

Words by Anastasia Prikhodko

Matthew Lewin, Australia’s ACT State Wholesale Manager for ONA Coffee, has been experimenting with freezing coffee since 2017. “[We] not only freeze for flavour but also for preservation,” he says. “We wanted to lock a coffee’s flavour in time and found that freezing at an ultra-low temperature keeps the coffee tasting just as good even six months later.” Lewin and the ONA research development team believe freezing coffee is one of the best applications to control the coffee flavour and achieve consistency. 

“Freezing halts coffee from ageing, it’s a one-stop solution for maintaining and enjoying coffee at its absolute best,” he says. “I’d roast less often, freeze more, and enjoy the coffee in its exact perfect peak window. This way, it can be prepared and enjoyed consistently and with more control, more often.”

Frozen coffee has become a staple at ONA, with their Sydney store serving up to 55 varieties of frozen beans on the menu. Breaking the classic stale coffee restriction inherent in coffee and having the opportunity to enjoy ‘aged’ coffee. Lewin says, “Imagine coffee vintages being tasted years down the track; it’s a very cool future for drinking coffee.”

Throughout ONA’s experimentations, the team has come across several unsuccessful applications for freezing coffee. “We’ve seen that bulk freezing doesn’t work. For example, freezing a 1kg of roasted beans then using it bit by bit from an open bag or vessel, which means opening and closing repeatedly.” 

It is best to freeze the beans in individual doses and use/grind them immediately out of the freezer to achieve repeatable and high-quality results. “Negative pressure packaging environments (vacuum sealed) is the best approach we’ve found,” Lewin says. Additionally, freezing beans and grinding them while frozen alters the beans’ particle size, shape and distribution profile. “This means we can extract more of the coffee, giving clearer flavours, more refined sweetness - overall lifting the clarity of the cup,” he says. 

As this method continues to be tried and tested, it is interesting to note why the industry is even looking at freezing coffee. To which Lewin says, it provides a solution to the degrading staling element inherent to any coffee, along with providing additional levels of control and consistency.                                                                       

Another topic that seems to be on the forefront is how freezing beans can help reduce wastage. Lewin responds with, “Wastage is a component relevant to the consumption component of the supply chain.”

Research from World Coffee Research (WCR) has indicated that current and future prospective evaluation of global consumption is outweighing production for a myriad of mitigating circumstances. WCR has suggested that the coffee industry will experience a shortfall of 182 million bags of coffee by 2050 due to rising demand of about 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent a year. Research has also shown that if nothing is done, more than half of the world’s coffee land will become unsuitable because of climate change.

“In the future, we won’t be able to supply demand,” Lewin says. “If we half the amount of coffee we use in existing consumption levels, we can have a better chance to manage the production issue.” 

The industry standard is to use 20g of coffee for a double espresso, but a double espresso can also be made using 10g of coffee. Lewin explains that by adjusting the roasting and brewing together with lower coffee machine pressure and flow control, we can create the same experience with half the coffee. “Rethinking consumption habits have the potential to provide a big amount of support to this growing issue.” 

The coffee beans will continue to age in the freezer, but at a slower pace. It is estimated that around 250 days in the freezer equates to one day of ageing in the bag unfrozen at room temperature. Despite the movement towards this new phenomenon, the industry remains critical. “The tough thing about coffee is that the variables and often non-conclusive evidence are used to present an idea as fact. Freezing is controversial because, for a long time, the coffee community actively advised against it,” explains Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, founder of UK’s Colonna Coffee. “It’s also not practical commercially in coffee shops and roasteries.”

To answer the question of why freezing is growing across the industry, Colonna-Dashwood says: 

“It offers benefits in terms of quality, primarily the ability to maintain a flavour profile of a coffee over long periods. I think the freezing of green and roasted coffee has a big impact that can make coffee similar to wine with harvests having a life beyond the typical 8-12 months.” 

Colonna-Dashwood also agrees that frozen coffee displays more clarity and aromatics.

“The more aromatic the coffee, the bigger the difference, such as a Geisha,” he says. “My current thinking is that grinding coffee is damaging, and freezing helps not to damage the flavour.”

Colonna-Dashwood is particularly interested in the phenomenon of the espresso pour changing during the day. “There has been speculation for a long time about what causes this. Could it be the machine changing with use during the day? The motor performance? The air temperature?” he asks. “We quickly realised the bean temperature itself had a big impact, and we then began to explore grinding coffee at varying temperatures.”

Colonna-Dashwood conducted the research together with Christopher Hendon, which showed that the most significant change in particle distribution happens between + and - 20 degrees celcius. 

“As baristas and coffee professionals began experimenting with frozen grinding, there also appeared to be benefits in aromatics of the brewed coffee,” he says. “The theory is that the volatile aromatics are preserved while the beans are frozen, and that heat damages the grind.”

He says each coffee package needs to be stored individually without oxygen and moisture. “Cold grinding seems to have a growing following of supporters, even then it seems to produce a crisp clean but lighter bodied coffee, again, it is subjective.” 

Colonna-Dashwood also agrees with the conversation of freezing coffee as a way to help coffee farmers facing climate change and a way of reducing wastage. He says the propensity for green coffee to deteriorate over several months post-harvest creates many issues. 

“This is an obstacle for farmers, exporters, importers, and roasters, with stock that loses quality and therefore value,” he says. “Again, it could help coffee become more wine-like and help to price well.” Alternatively, Colonna-Dashwood says storing green coffee not only costs money, but it also means sitting on stock and not making money from that stock. 

“You would have to be in a decent financial position as a farmer to be able to sit on the stock rather than try and sell it as soon as possible,” he says. “Same goes for green merchants and roasteries; all this hurts cash flow and increases stock holding.”

The type of impact freezing coffee can have on the industry remains a topic of debate. Mike Chapman of 1914 Coffee in Squamish, Canada began his experimentations after reading an article by Michael Cameron in 2015. Chapman has been serving a frozen coffee menu for several years, as well as collecting a vintage freezer menu.

He says the industry is also looking at freezing methods because it would help with the preservation of high-end coffees, and it’s a way of mitigating unnecessary wastage. However, he prefers to avoid the conversations of whether freezing coffee is beneficial or not, by steering the dialogue to coffee quality and wastage. Chapman says, although he clarifies that this is him speculating: 

"All coffee moved from origin carries a carbon footprint, so if more of the coffee that is moved is used up completely then we can order a small percentage less coffee annually, meaning less carbon emission."

It seems freezing is just another tool for dealing with the ever-changing organic product of coffee. For those wanting to freeze at home, Chapman says to be prepared to sacrifice freezer space or accept that you are going to have a dedicated coffee freezer. 

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A Shot in the Dark 2020: The Coffee is on its Way!

Friday, 20 March, 2020

Here's some good news!

This week (and what a week it's been!) we packed and sent out all of the competition coffee sponsored by Sevenoaks Trading and a bunch of goodies to our 50 "A Shot in the Dark" Roasting competitors. 

Thankfully, one of the aspects of Coffee Magazine's A Shot in the Dark sponsored by Genio Roasters is that Roasters stay in their own roasteries and use their own equipment to roast the coffee - so self isolation is kind of a pre-requisite!  Take that Corona Virus!

It's been a challenging time, with everyone in the coffee community being effected, and there are many serious downsides this has caused our Industry. But we are optimistic that both the coffee community and South Africa at large will face this thing together and we will overcome it.

With the current State of Disaster in mind, we have taken every health precaution is assembling the ASITD packs - using all the necessary protocols and including a special COVID-19 insert for competitors to follow. We, along with our Event Partners have even ensured that the courier bags that competitors receive are pre-labelled to minimise third party handling and possible transmission of anything virus-related.

We wish all competitors the best of luck, and we are thrilled to be able to push ahead with A Shot in the dark, safely and responsibly.

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Coffee (and food in general) does not transmit COVID-19

Friday, 20 March, 2020

Understanding transmission of the virus is obviously key to helping slow it down. Research from the European Food Safety Authority has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and we welcome their current standpoint, which is that coffee (ie the raw/roasted product) does not transmit the virus. Please see their press release below.

We are sharing this information direct from Communicaffe

ROME, Italy – The European Food Safety Authority – EFSA is closely monitoring the situation regarding the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that is affecting a large number of countries across the globe. There is currently no evidence that food – including coffee – is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus.

EFSA’s chief scientist, Marta Hugas, said: “Experiences from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), show that transmission through food consumption did not occur. At the moment, there is no evidence to suggest that coronavirus is any different in this respect.”

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has said that while animals in China were the likely source of the initial infection, the virus is spreading from person to person – mainly respiratory droplets that people sneezecough, or exhale.

More information on coronavirus and food can be found in this FAQ by the BfR, Germany’s risk assessment body.

Scientists and authorities across the world are monitoring the spread of the virus and there have not been any reports of transmission through food. For this reason, EFSA is not currently involved in the response to the COVID-19 outbreaks. However, they are monitoring the scientific literature for new and relevant information.

Regarding food safety, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued precautionary recommendations including advice on following good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation, such as washing handscooking meat thoroughly and avoiding potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods. More information can be found on the WHO website.

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How you can stay safe and still keep supporting your local coffee business

Monday, 16 March, 2020

Right, so we're officially in a National State of Disaster, but as Douglas Adams wisely wrote, the best thing we can do is not to panic. Take all the necessary steps of course, but "Don't Panic." Panic helps no one and kindness and calm will go a long way in a time where there is a lot of uncertainty.

For the measures being taken by the South African government, you can read President Cyril Ramaphosa's speech in full here.

One of the areas of uncertainty is how long small businesses can sustain a period of social distancing.

As South Africans we generally deal with adversity with a strong will and a great sense of humour, so let's maintain those qualities throughout this strange time. 

Cafes are communities and can be supportive (and EXTRA hygienic) safe spaces in this time. Most cafes are limiting seating and ramping up sanitisation protocols, but will remain open.  Some new things are being carried out in the global community when it comes to cafes and roasteries. Our SA cafes are also being responsible, please try be a responsible patron, but most important, please still be patrons (even if via online portals)! 

Follow our Instagram stories to see what coffee businesses are doing out there and who you can support.

Some of the out of the ordinary things you may be asked to do:

- Use a paper takeaway cup instead of ceramic or reusables cups/flasks. The virus can apparently remain on surfaces for quite some time, so this is just an extra measure that will mean people in hospitality won't need to handle used cups that carry traces of our saliva.

- Some cafes may encourage you to get your goods to go instead of sitting in the cafe.

- Cafes may ask you to use Contactless Payment instead of cash, so Zapper, Snapscan, Yoco Tap etc are preferable to transferring cash.

- A lot of places of delivering coffee beans to your door, take advantage of it and keep getting your favourite coffee for home and the office. Check in with your local caffeine slinger.

From the address please do the below in general:

  • wash your hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitisers for at least 20 seconds;
  • cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow; and
  • avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

Guidelines for hospitality industry:

The rules include strict limits on bars and shebeens. Any establishment that sells alcohol for on-premises consumption must close at 6PM, except on Sundays, when closing time is 1PM. The same closing times apply to liquor stores. Those establishments may also host only 50 people at a time, half the maximum number allowed at other gatherings. Even then, there may be no more than one person per square meter of floor space, which is defined as "adequate space". - From Business Insider

And from our side, please check your sources! Please be wary of sharing sensationalist or unresearched posts on COVID-19. Fake news is very detrimental.

This link to Business Insider is constantly updated with verified factual news.

Eat your fruits and veggies, drink lots of water, help those who have less access to resources and look after each other (even if from little social distance). We wish everyone the best in this time and urge you to above all, be kind. We'll get through this together! If someone in your community is concerned about getting it or spreading it, respect their decision to self-isolate.

Also, we're not so sure about the elbow thing as a greeting, but The Shaka? Now that we can get behind ;)

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