Red Espresso

... talking about the essence of rooibos tea and a Capetonian success story

I’m sure you’ve heard about red espresso– but have you ever tried it? It took me one and a half years to try it and to actually ask: what is this red stuff? Well, it’s easy. South Africa is the home of rooibos tea, and this is it, just a bit better.

Red espresso is pure rooibos tea – it’s high quality tea ground to the perfect grind so that you can use it as you would an espresso in your coffee maker and make yourself a red espresso. And: it’s even healthier for you with 10 times more antioxidants than in normal rooibos tea. Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes and cancer are all contributed by oxidative damage. Antioxidants may also enhance immune defence and therefore lower the risk of cancer and infection.

All right, this naturally caffeine-free stuff is only good for you. I make it in my mocca pot at least twice a day. It is really that good. But I go for the red cappuccino, where I cover the red espresso with frothed milk, a bit of honey and cinnamon. If you have a pure red espresso, you will be surprised, that it has cream due to natural oils in the tea.

Red espresso advertises with slogans like 'A tea that plays by coffee’s rules' to show the versatility of the product and the idea of having it as an alternative for espresso.

A normal cup of tea was not exciting enough

Let me quickly tell you the story behind red espresso. Foodie and entrepreneur, Carl Pretorius drank too much espresso. Being a health-conscious guy, he started to feel the espresso-intake. One day on his way to the kitchen to make yet another espresso, he saw the espresso machine and rooibos tea not too far from it and had the thought 'this could be something'. Being known for experimenting with different ways of doing things, he got it right. Carl, the owner of the olive farm Belvedere and Just Trees in Paarl talked to his horticulturist Bruce who knew the place where one could get the best rooibos tea: at Biedouw Valley, a family run farm in the Cederberg.

2005 was the beginning of red espresso. Carl Pretorius didn’t want decaf and didn’t want tea, but something with the health benefits of tea.

Carl’s family tasted it as well as a friend in Paarl who owned coffee shop Kikka on Main Street - all loved it and quickly after this it said 'rooibos cappuccino R10' on his coffee shop-blackboard.

Giovanni’s Deli was his first customer in Cape Town next to 600 stores countrywide. Woolworth cafésbecame a customer in 2006, a big credibility builder as well as @Home. In 2011 red espresso is about to reach export-country number 20 with Canada being the biggest due to existing rooibos-consciousness in the country. Portugal is another big market, where capsules with red espresso (like nespresso) are sold, the first tea capsule worldwide.

Recognised for taking tea into the café space, red espresso has won five awards in five years: three for innovation – including making history as the first tea (and first South African company) to earn coffee's highest honour at The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) by winning the Best New Product – Speciality Beverage Award 2008/9. In the same year, on the other side of the beverage spectrum, red espresso was voted a Top Ten Best New Product at the World Tea Expo 2009 for essentially taking tea out the bag and into a place no-one thought it would go: the espresso machine and, with it, coveted café culture.

Rooibos tea is sexy - My home is my castle

The team behind red espresso made the old-fashioned rooibos tea new and sexy. Rooibos ground to an espresso grind - and brought something really healthy to the coffee market.

South Africa though is the home of rooibos and red espresso’s most important market (the product is proudly Capetonian). In 2010, the local market grew by 20%. "We’re proud that we innovated on home soil." says brand manager Natasha Larché.

Red espresso is smart; it is an endorsement both for the coffee and tea world. It is not coffee, it is not tea, this is a new category.

by Antonia Heil

 
Red Espresso
99 Hope Street | Gardens | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 461 6965

PS: 250g of the magic red stuff cost you something from R45 to R48

Cape Town is full of tea stories. We met the tea Lady Bonin and also visited Nigiro tea merchants. 

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