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Haas: coffee and art
Coffee, art and collectibles in the Bo-Kaap
Coffee, art and collectibles in the Bo-Kaap
A decade ago you would never have found a place like the Haas Collective on Rose Street in the Bo Kaap. However these days, though the buzzing area has kept its cobble stone roads, iconic multi-coloured buildings and close community, it’s also looked on as its alleyways and corridors have become hosts to businesses spilling over from the city centre that claim a new arty edge.
Formed in February 2010 by Francois Irvine, Tess Berlein and Glynn Venter, Haas, as it’s casually known, is home to collectibles, gallery and studio space, a coffee shop and an advertising agency.
The shop came first; here you’ll find a mix of edgy items, pretty things and one-of-a-kind art pieces; and you’ll certainly come across some surprises, from baboon skulls to ceramic cars. The shelves are stocked with whatever takes the team’s fancy, and their combined eclectic tastes means that there’s a constant flow of quirky keepsakes.
Customers started to ask for coffee, and so, when the space opened up next door to the shop, Haas Coffee was born. With the same amount of dedication they put into finding beautiful things for the shop, the Haas Collective sourced blends from as far afield as Brazil and Indonesia.
“I can set my watch by our regulars,” says Francois. “They’re in here at 8am for their first cup, and then we see them again at 10am for their second.”
And for those who consider themselves true coffee connoisseurs, you’ll be happy to hear that this Bo-Kaap cafè stocks kopi luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world. Made from beans that have been eaten by Asian Palm Civets, a small forest dwelling mammal, this blend is mild and not as bitter as other coffees.
“We have people that come in especially for the kopi luwak, it’s very difficult to get hold of as we only source it from the wild, not from caged animals,” says Francois.
One thing led to another
Aside from an antique coffee roaster that has pride of place in the shop, visitors can sit inside and admire the art that flows seamlessly from the store into the coffee shop, or can choose to relax on one of the antique couches on the balcony for a spot of people watching.
Haas doesn’t only do cappuccinos and flat whites though, you’ll find a range of delicious breakfasts and lunches, from croque monsieurs with smoked gypsy ham to bunny chows served in floury Portuguese rolls, plus pastries and cakes (if you’re looking for a treat).
“We started with coffee and thought we’d sell a few muffins or something, one thing led to another and now we have a full on menu.”
You’ll also find quirky details on your crockery, made especially for Haas, like ants crawling on your side plate or a skull on a coffee cup. This cafè is also home to the most snappily dressed waiters around, complete with crisp white shirts and black top hats.
A space for artists
With the store and coffee shop flowing into one another, and the ad agency upstairs, the gallery across the road was a natural extension of this creative collaboration.
Francois and Tess are both artists who have first-hand experience with the somewhat chilly reception often given to young artists in Cape Town. Thus, they’ve gone out of their way to create a space where artists at any stage in their careers can get exposure.
“It’s not about having a commercial gallery, it’s about creating a space where the artists feel safe and appreciated,” explains Francois.
The gallery’s high ceilings and long line of windows give the space a natural light– perfect for showcasing the art. Here you’ll find a mix of up-and-coming young artists and established professionals working in a variety of mediums.
A large wooden table sits in the middle of the room; today it’s scattered with sketches and prints, but it’s easy to picture it as a banquet table when used for functions. The catering that Haas can provide is as flexible as the room itself; they can just as effectively prepare a three course sit-down dinner as they can an elegant high tea.
The Haas Collective has gone from strength to strength with its unique brand of creativity driving each new project. Francois, Tess and Glynn are passionate about art and design, and the pride they take in creating these spaces is obvious. Stop by the shop to see what new treasures they’ve found, discover a new artist in the gallery or relax over a cup of coffee and appreciate the creative hub that is the Haas Collective.
By Lindsay Callaghan
Opening hours: Monday till Friday: 7am - 5pm; Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: 8am - 3pm
67 Rose Street | Bo-Kaap | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 422 4413
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More inspiration about cafés you find in our section Eating Out.