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Celebrating South Africa's Coffee Culture: A Journey from Bean to Brew

Havana Dauncey
· January 22, 2024
Celebrating South Africa's Coffee Culture: A Journey from Bean to Brew

Buckle up, coffee enthusiasts! We're about to embark on a caffeine-fueled adventure through the wonderful world of South Africa's coffee culture.

As the coffee culture continues to evolve globally, South Africa's journey from bean to brew is an exciting exploration of tradition, innovation and the art of coffee-making. From the historic sips of the 17th century to the contemporary coffee renaissance, join us as we walk the bean-laden paths, exploring every step from Bean to Brew.

Here’s everything you need to know about South Africa’s coffee culture.

The History of Coffee in South Africa

While South Africa is not the first place you think of when you think of coffee beans, its coffee culture has a history that dates back to the 17th century. Coffee found its way to the southern tip of Africa through European colonial influence. The Dutch, who established the Cape Colony, introduced coffee as a beverage, and it soon became a symbol of socialisation and sophistication.

However, because of the challenging climate for coffee plants, coffee cultivation didn’t take off in South Africa. Instead, the country became a hub for importing and consuming coffee with its cultural significance growing steadily over the years.

South Africa’s Diverse Coffee Regions

South African Coffee Farms

Despite not being a major coffee-producing country, South Africa boasts a few regions where coffee cultivation is gaining traction. Thanks to their suitable sub-tropical climates, the following regions have become popular for growing coffee:

  • Mpumalanga

  • Limpopo

  • KwaZulu-Natal

The growth of boutique coffee farms in these regions has led to a blooming interest in local, homegrown coffee. South African coffee connoisseurs and farmers alike are experimenting with different coffee varieties, exploring sustainable practices and adding their special flavour to global speciality coffee.

The Journey from Bean to Brew in South Africa

The journey from bean to brew is a meticulous process that involves careful cultivation, harvesting, processing and roasting. South African coffee producers, though smaller in scale compared to global coffee giants, are committed to producing high-quality beans through sustainable and ethical practices.

Coffee plantations in South Africa benefit from diverse microclimates, allowing for the cultivation of different Arabica and Robusta varieties.

As coffee cherries ripen, skilled pickers hand-harvest the cherries, ensuring only the ripest ones are selected. The cherries then undergo a meticulous processing stage, where the beans are extracted, fermented, washed and dried.

Once the green coffee beans are ready, they are sent off to local roasteries. South African roasters play a crucial role in unlocking the flavours hidden within the beans.

Coffee Stall South Africa

South Africa’s Unique Brewing Methods

South Africa's coffee culture has challenged traditional coffee brewing, going beyond the conventional espresso or filter coffee. From traditional methods like pour-over and French press to innovative techniques like Aeropress and syphon brewing, coffee enthusiasts in South Africa love experimentation.

One unique method gaining popularity is the "Boeretroos" or "Boer Coffee". This traditional South African coffee preparation involves boiling coffee grounds in water, resulting in a strong and robust brew.

The Top Coffee Roasters in South Africa’s Major Cities

South Africa's coffee renaissance has been marked by the thriving coffee roastery scene. In major cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, independent roasteries are crafting stunning blends and single-origin coffees. So why not support local in your coffee adventures?

These roasteries are not only focused on the quality of their beans but also on sustainability and ethical sourcing. Many have direct relationships with coffee farmers, ensuring fair prices and environmentally conscious practices throughout the supply chain. The result is a cup of coffee that tells a story, connecting the drinker to the people and places behind the beans.

Here are some of South Africa’s top roasteries that every coffee enthusiast should check out:

The Best Coffee Roasters in Cape Town

1. Truth Coffee Roasting

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A post shared by TRUTH.Coffee Cape Town (@truthcoffee.capetown)

  • Why Visit: Housed in a historic Victorian warehouse, Truth Coffee Roasting is an iconic coffee destination known for its steampunk-inspired decor and award-winning coffees. They roast their beans on-site, offering a diverse range of single-origin and blended options.

  • Location: Cape Town City Centre

2. Origin Coffee Roasting

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A post shared by Origin Coffee Roasting (@origincoffeesa)

  • Why Visit: Origin Coffee Roasting allows you to immerse yourself in artisanal coffee craftsmanship, meet passionate artisans, witness the roasting process and savour the freshness during a cupping session at the Origin Headquarters.

  • Location: De Waterkant

3. Deluxe Coffeeworks

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A post shared by Deluxe Coffeeworks (@deluxecoffeeworks)

  • Why Visit: With a minimalist aesthetic, Deluxe Coffeeworks focuses on the craft of coffee without unnecessary frills. They have a straightforward menu featuring high-quality coffee beans sourced from various regions.

  • Location: Gardens

The Best Coffee Roasters in Johannesburg

1. Father Coffee

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A post shared by Father Coffee (@father_coffee)

  • Why Visit: Father Coffee is a Johannesburg institution known for its commitment to quality and a welcoming ambience. Their beans are sourced responsibly, and the baristas are skilled in creating a range of espresso-based drinks.

  • Location: Rosebank

2. Motherland Coffee Company

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A post shared by Motherland Coffee Company (@motherlandcoffee)

  • Why Visit: Motherland Coffee Company is not just a coffee shop, it's a celebration of African coffee. They source beans from across the continent, providing a unique and diverse coffee experience. The sleek, modern design of their locations enhances the overall experience.

  • Location: Rosebank and Dunkeld

3. DoubleShot Coffee & Tea

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A post shared by Doubleshot Coffee & Tea (@doubleshotsa)

  • Why Visit: DoubleShot is known for its cosy atmosphere and commitment to sustainability. They roast their own beans and offer a selection of specialty coffees. The menu includes both classic espresso drinks and innovative brews.

  • Location: Randburg

The Best Coffee Roasters in Durban

1. Colombo Coffee & Tea

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A post shared by Colombo Coffee (@colombo_coffee)

  • Why Visit: Colombo Coffee & Tea is a Durban gem, offering a diverse range of coffees and teas. The cosy and boho atmosphere makes it an excellent spot to relax and enjoy a cup of their expertly brewed coffee.

  • Location: Durban North

2. Beaver Creek Coffee Estate

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A post shared by Beaver Creek Coffee (@beavercreekcoffee)

  • Why Visit: Despite being a bit out of Durban, Beaver Creek Coffee Estate is worth the journey. It's South Africa's oldest coffee estate, and visitors can take guided tours to learn about the coffee-making process before enjoying a cup in the picturesque surroundings.

  • Location: Port Edward

3. Lineage Coffee

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A post shared by Lineage Coffee HQ | Roastery & Cafe (@lineage_coffee)

  • Why Visit: Lineage Coffee is known for its commitment to quality and ethical sourcing. The shop has a relaxed vibe, and its menu features a variety of single-origin coffees brewed to perfection.

  • Location: Hillcrest and Westville

South Africa’s Coffee Festivals

To celebrate the flourishing coffee culture, South Africa hosts various coffee festivals that bring together coffee enthusiasts, industry professionals and the general public. These festivals showcase the best of local and international coffees, highlight the talents of baristas and provide a platform for coffee education.

The biggest coffee festivals in South Africa include:

  • Cape Town Coffee Festival

  • Johannesburg Coffee & Chocolate Festival

  • The Specialty Expo

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A post shared by The Specialty Coffee Expo (@thespecialtycoffeeexpo)

These often offer a space to taste, learn and immerse yourself in the world of coffee. The festivals also feature competitions, workshops and demonstrations, pushing along the growth and evolution of South Africa's coffee scene.

Ready for that cuppa?

So, whether you're a seasoned coffee connoisseur or a casual sipper, South Africa's coffee scene calls with open arms. Enjoy South Africa’s best brews, the cosy cafes and the vibrant coffee culture. So, raise your cup and join in the celebration of South Africa's remarkable journey from bean to brew. Here's to the magic in every cup, the stories held within each bean, and the enduring spirit of South Africa's coffee culture. Until the next pour, cheers to the joy of sipping and the thrill of discovery!

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