CapeTownMagazine.com

The Rise of Coffee Culture in Cape Town

Unwrapping Cape Town with you.
Also engage with our other channels
to find something you don't want to miss.
 
www.capetownmagazine.com/subscribe
CapeTownMag
CapeTownMagazine.com
capetownmag

The Rise of Coffee Culture in Cape Town

We travel back in time to trace the fresh aroma of the much-loved java bean in the Mother City

Last Update 9 March 2017

Coffee is magical.

From its aromatic allure to its spellbinding power to take a casual coffee shop chat among strangers into a memorable experience, one thing is certain; there is an unexplainable power to the bean.

So much so that South Africa has seen gigantic growth in the java business. In fact, the South African Coffee Club reveals that in just 10 years, the industry has grown from a mere 20 roasteries to over 100 spots mapped throughout the country. We thought to ask those in the game about just how this coffee trend came about in the Mother City. We spoke to three industry leaders to uncover the history of when and how our seaside metropolis came to have a lustrous affair with the coffee bean.

The Aroma of the Past

“Back in the day, it was tea that ran the Mother City,” begins Anthony Swartz, owner of one of the oldest coffee shops in Cape Town, Anthony’s Golden Cup on Loop Street. The friendly coffee connoisseur has been roasting coffee since the 60s. He even worked for what he calls Cape Town’s first ‘proper’ café (back then known as a tea room that also served coffee), the Importers Tea and Coffee.

“I fell in love with coffee long before that though,” he continues. Before he moved to Cape Town from the countryside to look for a job he would watch how his mother prepared coffee every morning for his father’s journey to work. Although Anthony cannot specifically recall when the precious bean first officially landed on Mzansi soil, he does remember the days when coffee quickly ascended to be the next best drink.

anthony's golden cup
An antique coffee grinder, pestle and mortar, and 20 year-old raw coffee beans at Anthony's Golden Cup

In fact, the mysterious java became a beverage that went hand-in-hand with social status; those who could afford the rich brown brew could drink it in its pure form, while those in the ‘lower’ scales of society simply enjoyed the coffee mixed with chicory (an additive found in many instant coffees today).

It was during his time working for Importers Tea and Coffee that Anthony developed professional roasting skills and opened his own coffee shop. Since then, the java maestro has seen cafés come and go, and not many making a lasting impact. That was until the mid-2000s when something began to change.

anthony's golden cup
Anthony's Golden Cup Coffee Shop

Dawn of a New Era

The year is 2005. There are only a handful of speciality coffee shops around, which is something Canadian Joel Singer notices the moment he lands on Cape Town soil. This reason, coupled with a strong passion for coffee, led him to open his very own company, Origin Coffee Roasting in the City Centre. The brand is now widely regarded as the pioneer of the new coffee culture in Cape Town.

Fast forward to 2006 and another java maestro, Mikhael Bou Rjeily, makes his way to the Mother City, this time from Lebanon. He too sees a massive gap in the market and makes a plan to do something about it. And so the award-winning barista moves here permanently, trains countless baristas, and later opens two cafes (mischu in Sea Point and Byblos in Woodstock) and the mischu Coffee Academy that trains baristas, teaches coffee lovers how to prepare the perfect cuppa at home, and even how to start their very own java shop.

mischu coffee showroom
A classic flat white beverage at mischu Coffee Showroom

Today, the Mother City is bursting at the seams with cafés, restaurants and, as an extension of this, really good coffee. From the Rosettas and Truths to the Bean Theres and the Deluxes (and let’s not forget Black Insomnia Coffee Company, officially ranked as ‘the world’s strongest coffee’), there is an endless array of exceptional roasters to choose from.

And then there are coffee academies, associations and competitions, all things that didn’t exist little over a decade ago. Mikhael alone, through his award-winning barista skills, teaching, and coffee academy has trained over 1 000 baristas. Origin’s coffee academy boasts similar numbers. The brand has also played an immense role in the founding of the Speciality Coffee Association of South Africa. This association is responsible for pioneering and driving the South African Barista Competition.

origin coffee roasters in cape town
Origin Coffee Roasting

In short, the speciality coffee trend is constantly rising to greater heights. Cape Town has the largest number of independent roasters in South Africa and is becoming widely recognised as the coffee capital of Africa. With such growth, it’s only apt to ask: is this coffee-drinking culture here to stay?

The Stronger the Coffee…

Anthony, who has been roasting coffee for over 50 years, has seen countless coffee spots open shop only to have to close their doors again. “The key to long-lasting success in this industry is passion,” he says.

Both Jorge Alberto, master roaster and coffee expert at Origin and Mikhael of mischu reiterate the point about passion. “We are not primarily here to make money. We’re here to make really good coffee,” Jorge says simply.

With more and more people being trained to make great coffee, more consumers are able to differentiate a good cuppa from an average one, a distinction of taste which will be instrumental in taking the culture to another dimension, at least according to Jorge. “At Origin we serve just one grade below the international cup of excellence. So we are really serious about quality,” he explains. “Once this becomes a reality for most places, the culture will be taken to a whole new level.”

mischu coffee showroom
mischu's award-winning Isabella blend

From the Mother City to the Rest of The World

Cape Town is a city that consistently comes out tops on travel bogs, which also works to expose the rest of the world to Mother City’s burgeoning coffee scene. Look at Truth Coffee being voted the best coffee shop in the world by the British Telegraph, for example. “The elements are definitely playing in our favour,” says Jorge.

byblos trading co
Byblos Trading Co.

Cape Town has certainly come a long way when it comes to the rich brown brew. Tea rooms once ruled the city, but have since made way for a bean that has, for centuries now, had parts of the world captivated by its aroma and taste. Who knows, if the Mother City speciality coffee scene keeps this up, it could be well on its way to being recognised as not just the coffee capital of Africa, but of the world.

by Dudu Luthuli

--

Anthony's Golden Cup Coffee Shop
Opening Hours: 
Monday – Friday: 6:30am – 5pm ; Saturday: 7:30am – 1pm
55 Loop Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27(0)21 426 1268

mischu Coffee Showroom
Opening Hours: 
Monday – Sunday: 7am – 6pm
85A Regent Road | Sea Point | Cape Town | +27(0)72 563 8090

Byblos Trading Co.
Opening Hours: 
Monday – Friday: 8am – 4pm; Saturday: 9am – 2pm
The Palms | 145 Sir Lowry Road | Woodstock | Cape Town | +27(0)21 461 2612

Origin Coffee Roasting
Opening Hours: 
Monday – Friday: 7am – 5pm; Saturday – Sunday: 9am – 2pm
28 Hudson Street | De Waterkant | Cape Town | +27(0)21 421 1000

--

Looking to make the most of your hot cuppa? Here are some tips on How to Make the Most of Your Coffee Drinking Experience. If you're also on the hunt for the finest cafés in the city, have a look at the Top Coffee Shops in Cape Town.

 --

STAY TUNED AND SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER FOR MORE INFORMATION

---

The Mother City is fast developing so to keep you clued up; we’ve rounded up some of the hottest latest additions to Cape Town in our New Restaurants and Hot Spots overview. Discover it

---

Use our events section for an up-to-date overview of happenings in Cape Town. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and if you have a smartphone, add m.capetownmagazine.com to your home screen for quick access on the go! Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, join our Google+ circle, connect with us on LinkedIn, check out our photos on Instagram and follow our Pinterest boards for updates on what’s happening in and around the Mother City

Cape Town Events Calendar
August 2018
SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31

Jack BlackBeers and Bands at Jack Black Brewery ...

Every Friday night the Jack Black stage is lit up with local talent

Shakespeare In Love 2018It's Back: Shakespeare in Love Graces ...

Back by popular demand, this crowd-pleasing, popular show returns to The Fugard theatre ...

WildFlower3The Ultimate Cape Spring Wild Flower ...

SOLD OUT: Luxury glamping on a private farm among the blooms in the Cape’s famous ...

Cape Town Helicopters Generic NEW 3Fly Fridays: Helicopter Rides For Under ...

Want that extra-special experience to round off the week? These are the city’s most ...

Villa 47 2Breakfast at Villa 47 and Spoil a ...

Italian breakfast with a friend, plus: two-and three-course lunch and dinner specials ...

The Grey Hotel Win1The Best Staycation Special In The ...

Special offer for you as a reader: 2 nights stay, rooftop drinks, tapas platter, wine and ...

Just Like Papa 1Just Like Papa: The Ultimate Place to ...

Finally, there’s a place in Cape Town where you can get exceptional home, camping, ...

faded friday 4Get Faded: Head To Woodstock To ...

Faded Friday celebrates the much-loved fade haircut

Xplore Cape Town Tours 2Be A Tourist In Your Own Country With ...

From the Cango Caves to the world’s highest bungee bridge, adventure awaits on this ...

SA IdolsAll the Times Capetonians Entertained ...

Though auditions for 2018 are closed, Cape Town did us proud during SA Idols Season 14

Le Bonheur 10Snap up a Pizza and Reptile Adventure ...

Enjoy a delicious wood-fired pizza while taking a tour of the crocodile pond or the snake ...

Under Oaks 4Have a Turkish-French Affair With This ...

Indulge all your senses by trying the delicious wine and sweet pairing at Under Oaks in ...

Fire and Ice Weekend PartyParty in the Fire & Ice Hotel Lobby ...

Live DJ, killer cocktails, 38 gourmet milkshakes and the chance to meet exciting new ...

Ubuntu Climbs 365 3How Many Hikes Up Table Mountain Does ...

A hike a day gets the funds raised. This guy is hiking Table Mountain every single day of ...

Arabella Aerial ViewWhich of These 5 Arabella Stay, Play ...

One luxury spa day and four remarkable getaway experience deals to reward yourself with, ...

Battlefield Live SA Laser Tag Children's Events Cape TownSave on your kids’ birthday party ...

Make your kids’ birthday party extra special with outdoor laser tag with Battlefield ...

Kiff Kombi - Durbanville - 1Experience Cape Town's Most Spirited ...

All aboard, gin lovers! Here’s what to expect on a tour of Cape Town’s quaintest, ...

Cartel House 10Grab Yourself Free Flapjacks Every ...

Members only: Luxury co-working office space Cartel House serves up hot and fresh ...

Glowing Rooms 3Get a Great Saving on 3D Mini-Golf with ...

Pay a special rate for entrance into SA’s first 3D space-themed glow-in-the-dark ...

Strolla Restaurant and Bar in Sea PointSkip The Traffic: Hit Free Motown ...

Let’s everybody hit the deck – Goodhope FM DJ Ashton Abels brings the Motown tunes ...

Cape Culinary Tours Valentine's Day InclusionTake a Bite into History with Cape Town ...

Learn about Cape Town’s past while savouring local cuisine with these informative ...

African Soul Surfer Backpackers in Cape TownBook a Surf and Yoga Retreat at the ...

This week-long surf and yoga camp includes breakfast, accommodation and all your ...

Sgt pepper live musicRam Jam Rock Parties at Sgt Pepper

The head-banging, guitar twanging rockin’ good times are back

Aces 'n' SpadesFriday Night Live at Aces ‘n’ Spades

They will rock you

Pierneef food and wine pairing 2Food and Wine Pairing at La Motte

Discover a match made in the divine tasting room of this Franschhoek Estate

surfing muizenbergLearn To Surf Or Perfect Your Skills In ...

New to the surfing game? You’re in good hands at African Soul Surfer

WildFlower2Your 2018 Guide to Viewing the Spring ...

Don’t miss the chance to get up close and personal with South Africa’s budding ...

Cloud 9 Hotel 3Spa and Sparkling Wine Special at ...

WeatherGiveawaysTravel Tips

Curious to make exciting discoveries in Cape Town every day? "LIKE" us for a daily hidden gem.