Cape Town, the “Mother City,” is a tiny dot at the bottom of the paunchy African continent that has remained on the bucket lists of travelers in recent times. The weather is mostly perfect, the people are chiefly gorgeous, and the natural beauty can stagger even the coldest of hearts.
What used to be a sort of summer playground has become a real alternative recreation spot, where the living is easy but the fare is excellent. For all these reasons the city is ripe for caffeinating. And in a short 10 years Cape Town’s coffee scene has evolved from just one specialty haunt to dozens roasting and/or serving. Here are some of my favorites, old and new:
Dapper Coffee Company
Proudly residing within an investment-car showroom, Dapper Coffee Company brings some sexiness to the city’s coffee scene. A shiny white vintage-’80s Porsche 911 and a rouge-kissed Ferrari to behold whilst holding a flat white isn’t a bad way to start a morning. Breakfasts are a specialty here with eggs and the works, and they naturally come with a coffee of your choice.
At the helm of this small empire of coffee shops is Daniel Holland, your typical smiling, bike-riding Cape Townian. Starting with a small coffee cart in 2010, Holland has grown to four stores dotting the central business district. Yours Truly has a slogan—“same time tomorrow”—and it thusly pulls hipsters and fellow out-of-the-fray locals to stand around drinking cortados and straight-up espressos. Their latest initiative is to donate 1 rand (don’t even do a conversion to US dollars) for every cup sold to the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit—an all-women anti-rhino poaching organization. (!)
Behind the motto “luxury coffee for everyone,” Tribe Coffee has aimed to offer well-executed and freshly roasted beans to a city coming out of an Illy coma. Besides its two venues—one in the Woodstock design area of the city, the other inside a BMW motorcycle store—the brand also supplies smaller cafes, grocery stores, and hotels all over town. Tribe’s co-founder, Jake Easton, is originally from the United States, and settled in Cape Town with a big heart and worthy opinions about life. He’s known to say things like: “Our taste buds are all the same. Not a ‘some pigs are better’ Orwellian dystopia, but parity. Taste, in a coffee, is the equalizer.”
The bad boys of the city’s coffee culture, Deluxe Coffeeworks is helmed by Judd Francis, a Kiwi, and Carl Wessel, a Saffa (a local). Here there are fast bikes (on the floors and on the walls), beautiful people, plenty of sexy espresso, and much fun-fueled late nights. Their machines are state of the art and (of course) customized, and the coffee served comes with a side of luscious good attitude.
One may say that owners Jono Le Feuvre and Robert Cowles are the literati of the coffee business down south. They question every bean and ponder sustainability and the beauty of flavor notes. Every bag comes with a fable on the back using flavor notes to ramble stream-of-consciously about something ordinary in its sheer simple beauty. With plans to expand into something more (the roastery has a coffee bar, but of course, these deep thinkers won’t just open yet another coffee store), this is the most interesting outfit to watch.
Origin Coffee Roasting
This is where it all started. Thanks to Origin founder Joel Singer (a sort of Canadian import), the coffee scene in Cape Town first took hold, and everyone started to appreciate flat whites, single-origin beans, and the artisanal craft of creating a truly superb cup of coffee. Today, more than 10 years later, the shop is as full as ever, and serves the best New York bagels on the continent. Ask anyone in the greater Cape Town area about coffee and this is where they will send you immediately.
Daniel Scheffler is an international freelance journalist whose work has appeared in T Magazine, Travel And Leisure, Monocle, Playboy, New York Magazine, The New York Times, and Butt. Read more Daniel Scheffler on Sprudge.