Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love. 👼🏻☕️ Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
Coffee. Champagne. Coca-Cola. All my favorite drinks start with a c. Coincidence? That’s joincidence with a c. If you’re a true Friends fan, you’ll be on the floor.
I’ve been drinking coffee since I can remember - I probably started around the age of 3. My oupa (Afrikaans for grandfather) had a special blend of coffee made for him at Mastertons Coffee Specialists in Port Elizabeth. The “PP Michau Special Blend” was created for my oupa after many trips to and fro between his farm and Mastertons - he probably went back ten times until he had the perfect blend, both in terms of taste and aroma (the aroma was very important to him). My oupa’s special blend can still be purchased today, and a few restaurants in Port Elizabeth serve it. To this day, it’s still my favorite filter coffee blend.
My ouma (Afrikaans for grandmother) used to brew pots of my oupa’s coffee, large enough to quench the thirst of an army. Her sugar spoon is larger than a conventional sugar spoon (3 times the size), but we’d still add 3 heaped teaspoons of sugar to our cups of coffee and enjoy it with her homemade buttermilk rusks. And so, my endless romance with great coffee began.
I drink at least two cups of coffee per day, and I prefer filter coffee - I don’t enjoy instant coffee. Fortunately, my brother and I received a Nespresso machine for Christmas and my Nessie has come to my rescue on many occasions where I’ve been caffeine deprived. I do, however, love going out for coffee or buying takeaway coffee when I need to study. So, I thought I’d share some of the coffee shops where I’ve had the best experiences. This means that the coffee consistently tastes good, it’s not oily, the beans aren’t over-roasted, and I leave the shop feeling happier with my caffeine companion.
(Pretoria and Johannesburg)I know a lot of people say Starbucks is overrated, but I disagree. Yes, you’re paying for the name, but what comes with that name is assurance that your coffee will not be burnt or too oily (as a result of machines not being cleaned often enough) - very common occurrences with some South African coffee shops. Starbucks has a global reputation to uphold, and that is why I have never walked out of a Starbucks wanting to throw my cup of coffee away. They also have such a large variety, in terms of beverages and food - and their coffee beans and pods make for excellent home coffee experiences. My favorite time of the year is when Starbucks brings out their Christmas menu and cups. This year, my favorite is the Toffee Nut Latte - you can purchase the syrup in store. Throughout the year, my standard order is either a cappuccino or a coffee-based Caramel Frappuccino (I think I order it just to eat the caramel drizzle on top of the cream).
Nespresso Whenever I need to buy pods, I’ll stop at the Nespresso coffee bar to taste a new coffee they have - to see whether I would like the taste and would then purchase it or not. The coffee is complementary, but I would never walk into the shop, order a coffee and leave without a purchase. I would feel too guilty.
Seattle Coffee Co.I started out drinking hot chocolates in Seattle when they were very connected to Exclusive Books. Their hot chocolate is still one of my favorites - not too sweet, but still a great hot chocolate. I recently discovered their Butterscotch Latte (made with real butterscotch sauce) which has changed my life. They have a very easy rewards program, where you get a free beverage of any size and any type on their menus after purchasing 10 beverages - all you need to do is enter your cell phone number. Super simple and sometimes a great treat if you don’t keep track of how many coffees you’ve bought. If you’re peckish, they make a mean Apple Crumble muffin.
Woolworths CaféThis is probably the most accessible coffee shop and most widely available of the shops I’ve experienced with good quality coffee. Whenever I’m doing grocery shopping at Woolies, I’ll stop for a cappuccino (definitely my favorite way to have coffee). You also get some discount if you have a Woolworths card (which is very useful towards the end of the month).
(Pretoria)TriBeCa has been around since I was born, and it’s always had fantastic coffee. They have their own roastery, which explains why their coffee is of such a high standard. On a hot summer’s day, their coffee milkshake is just right to quench your thirst. But their stock standard cappuccinos are great to be enjoyed at any time.
Il Ritrovo Lounge at The Michelangelo Hotel
(Johannesburg)This is the one place in South Africa where I get an old world feeling - as if it’s set in a novel. The large koi ponds and the classical piano music of beloved songs in the lounge have mesmerized me since I was a little girl. I loved having hot chocolate at The Michelangelo, because it’s named after one of my favorite artists and the hot chocolate was served with a sugar crystal stick which I always thought was really fancy. I still love going there on Sundays for the classical music, and a cappuccino. They also have an incredible high tea - which is what I did for my 12th birthday party. It’s a real treat and something so special.
Spout Coffee Company
(Pretoria and Johannesburg)Spout is a sweet little coffee shop which was built from recycled shipping containers. Their coffee is served in handle-less mugs - perfect for keeping your hands warm, and it is some of the best coffee in Pretoria. I always go for the large cappuccino, and I love to have it with their almond and clementine cake which is covered in chocolate. I promise you, this cake will change your life!
(Johannesburg)44 Stanley is a very unique slice of Johannesburg - the stores and restaurants there are just something else. Grabbing a takeaway cappuccino from Bean There is great for sipping on whilst exploring the quaint shops and delis sprinkled in this street.
The Vredehoek Kwik Spar
(Cape Town)CAN YOU BELIEVE IT! This is my local Spar in Cape Town and I absolutely love it! They have the widest range of freshly baked goods - the lemon meringue and pecan nut pie are to die for! And the coffee is surprisingly delicious. And it’s around R20 for a large cappuccino which is a bargain in Cape Town!
Giovanni’s Deli World
(Cape Town)I would expect nothing less than the finest coffee from this Italian deli. Whenever I go to Giovanni’s for grocery shopping, I absolutely must stop for a cappuccino. If you close your eyes, you could think you’re in Italy with the wonderful taste. Giovanni’s also sells their own pods that work really well with Nespresso machines. And to top the whole experience off, they have a great selection of chocolates, many of them imported, and the most divine Italian wafers (the hazelnut ones are my favorite).
Espresso Lab Microroasters
(Cape Town)This coffee lab has one of the coolest aesthetics and décor I’ve ever seen. It really looks like a coffee laboratory with the glass beakers used both in preparation and serving. Their coffee is fantastic, and so is the whole set up and process of seeing the beverage being made.
(Cape Town)I started a tradition of passing by Jason Bakery in Bree Street after some of my boxing sessions, just for a coffee and sometimes a croissant (if I feel I deserved it). They always have the most unique treats available and sometimes I need to exert extra self control not to buy the entire pastry selection available. The only sad thing is that there are no large cappuccinos, so I’ll order a large latte. But the coffee is still good, and the Tebirkes makes up for it.
(Stellenbosch and Cape Town)This is some of the best tasting coffee I’ve had in the Western Cape, and the lid on the blue cup is one of the most comfortable and fun lids to drink from. I always go for a double cappuccino, but on an exceptionally hot day, I’ll settle for an iced red tea.