Shift Espresso Bar in Cape Town

Meet Green Point’s new rebel with a (coffee) cause

Luigi Vigliotti’s new Shift Espresso Bar is all about pushing things slightly out of place. Having traversed the globe as a dancer, this fetching entrepreneur, whose love of coffee stems from his Italian roots, has seen and tasted plenty, and in his fresh-faced shop, he’s brought it all together to brew up a venue that’s just a little rebellious, a little intent on raging against the machine.

Firstly, the bar, which opens on Green Point’s main drag on 23 June 2014, doesn’t look much like your mainstream café. Blending a dark-toned indie aesthetic with industrial touches (like suspended, zigzagging copper light fittings and shelves with metal piping), it claims a sleek yet edgy feel and an anything-goes ambience that invites customers to forge their own path, and well, make whatever they want of the space.

“It’s meant to be the sort of place that people can come to any time of day and do whatever they want in, be it play games or strum on the guitar or study or work [there’s free Wi-fi, laptop plug points and cell phone charging stations],” explains the co-owner.

But the stand-out feature of Shift is, of course, the coffee, which doesn’t exactly conform to ordinary joe standards either. Though the expected cappuccinos, lattes, flat whites and Americanos are all present and accounted for, Shift imports some of the individuality that Luigi’s observed abroad and whips up a few against-the-grain speciality options too. There’s the Hashtag, the Rebellion, the Bearded Junkie and the Italian Plumber, and although the co-founder is keeping the exact ingredients under wraps, he has revealed that these out-there concoctions include treats like condensed milk, Oreos, hazelnuts, gelato and Nutella.

Aside from the adventurous combos though, the java itself has a distinct identity that’s worth a little tongue wagging. The passionate co-owner surveyed around 50 different roasters before he settled on one that could offer him beans good enough to blow the minds of both coffee snobs and noobs. There are two blends available, a rich Italian one and a full-bodied African one with a thick crema, chocolaty outset and caramel aftertaste, and both, according to Luigi, are tasty enough to alter drinkers’ mindsets about this aromatic beverage.

“That’s what the bar is all about, after all,” he says, “shifting expectations, people’s understanding of coffee and the way they drink it.”

One way you can choose to drink your cuppa at Shift is with a complementary bite. Visitors can look forward to innovative palate pleasers like peanut butter and salted caramel brownies and hazelnut and chocolate croissants as well as a few Italian-inspired lunch snacks, including paninis, ciabattas and baguettes with meats like prosciutto and cheeses like buffalo mozzarella.

So, if you’re the type that likes to swim a little upstream, or if you just appreciate some good ol’ Italian hospitality wrapped up in a trendy setting, you know where to go for some good food and freshly brewed goodness. Simply look out for the sexy spot that’s shaking up Green Point’s café scene.

Tip: Prove you’re a loyal customer at this hip coffee shop by popping in regularly and you just might be treated to a special surprise. Also, if you buy a Chemex coffeemaker and bag of beans from Shift (yes, they’re soon to have a retail side too), you can benefit from free barista training.

The Bill: Although everything Shift does is exotic by nature, Luigi promises that its products aren’t that exotic cost-wise. He’s made a concerted effort to keep prices fair, so that patrons can come in and enjoy a sandwich and coffee for little more than R50.

Opening Hours: Weekdays: 7am – 6pm | Sunday: 8am - 3pm 

47 Main Road (next to the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel & Spa) | Green Point | Cape Town


Bit of a java junkie? Find out about other top coffee shops in Cape Town.


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