Drinking Coffee in Cape Town – A Summary

If you’ve been to my main website under enjoying coffee, you would have seen that I was excited about the cafe scene in Cape Town. In any case, I’ve been lucky enough to visit Cape Town twice in the last 4 months and thought that I’d share my experiences with you, but this time with pictures. 

I noticed that when goggling (doesn’t that sound and look weird) coffee shops in Cape Town, a writer boasted that a new Eatery called Manna Epicure on 151 Kloof Street had the best cappuccinos in Cape Town. So always up to the challenge, I made sure that on my next visit, I would make a “beeline” for Manna Epicure, which turned out to be more like a marathon, as it was way up on the hill of Kloof Street. Manna Epicure SignNeedless to say, by the time I got there I was starving, having turned down the free breakfast at my hotel. The restaurant is a bit small and to be quite honest, I think it was converted from a bungalow. It has an all white decor inside, including white tables, chairs, floorboards and displays and a chandelier. There’s an outside bit, where I sat, which is like a balcony. To eat, I had their signature dish, scrambled eggs on coconut bread (delicious) and of course, I ordered a cappuccino. Turned out that they get their coffee from Origin Coffee Roasting Cafe (more of that to come later) – Anyway the coffee wasn’t bad, but I think it was more like a caffe latte than a cappuccino – I promptly got my camera out and took a few snaps – of course I got some weird looks, but hey ! you’ve got to seize the moment and what a lovely picture it is, below.  

Manna Cappuccino 

They also had some lovely cakes on display and although the three layer carrot cake and white icing fairy cakes looked gorgeous, I just didn’t have any space in my stomach for more – perhaps for the next visit, God willing.

Also on Kloof Street, there is Melissa’s, packed with expensive delicacies like jams, preserves, biscuits, nuts, vinegars and imported European stuff. There’s also a small corner to have cakes and coffee, which I haven’t tried out yet.  Still with Kloof Street, there’s a newish place called Caramellos, where you can pick up some wonderful Greek/Italian confectionery – the manager was really nice and on hearing my British accent, he was inspired to give me some lovely biscuits – Again ! no time to taste the coffee, but a nice venue nevertheless. Quite popular with the young and trendy of Cape Town is also Vida e Caffe, with sites springing up around Cape Town, however on this occasion I tried the one on Kloof Street. The cafe was small, but it has a buzz and you can tell that the customers are regulars. Concerning the quality of the double espresso I ordered, it was OK and the crema was gone in less than one minute, so it’s a good place to hang out.

vida e caffe espresso

On another of Cape Town’s fashionable streets, Long Street , there’s RCaffe – where I got to sample a medium sized cappuccino after about a week of bad coffee in a neighbouring country. The milk was frothed well and the coffee was good. RCaffe is also like an all day deli, where they serve small lunches, cakes, pastries, etc. The art displayed on their walls are also for sale and the clientele was quite mixed, with young and trendy, mixing with the older generation.

My second favourite cafe in Cape Town has to be Sundance, which have now added branches in centrally located Church Street and at Greenpoint (where they have live Jazz) to their original shop in Buitengracht Street. They try and make their shops unique – so for example at their first ever shop in Buitengracht Street, they have a La Marzocco machine, which the barista knew how to use, judging by the sweet and sharp espresso I got from him on a sunny Friday afternoon. The decor is warm with light brown colours and a huge mirror. At their Church Street branch, keeping with the warm comfy colours, the shop is quite small, with bar stool type chairs and their machine is an Elektra. On my visit to this shop I tried a large cappuccino, accompanied with a lovely carrot muffin, but afterwards I came to judge that to really get the best from the type of coffee you prefer, you need to try it in the original size and not these massive versions.

 Sundance Large Cappuccino

I think I read somewhere that in Italy they only serve one size of coffee, except of course for espresso. So for example if you went to Italy and ordered an extra large caffe latte, they would really think you were mad and probably say no ! Anyway I digress, back to Cape Town cafes.

If you do visit Cape Town, you will no doubt be drawn to the tourist magnet, the V&A Waterfront, which has a lovely array of shops, restaurants and cafes, as well as the nearby Two Oceans Aquarium. As with most tourist traps unfortunately, it is always hard to get a really well prepared cup of coffee. You will no doubt be confirnted with many choices such as another branch of Vida e Caffe, Coffee and Bites, Love Revenge (strange name for a cafe) and Mugg & Bean (South Africa’s Starbucks), but I think when you are here, you should go for atmosphere and scenery and I don’t think there’s anywhere better than at Balducci’s, advertised as a Cafe, restaurnat and Royal sushi Bar (OK !). At Balducci’s, if you get a seat, ask for one  outside, so that you can be sipping your cappuccino or espresso with a view of Table Mountain and that’s exactly what I did, where I took this picture of an Illy espresso macchiato and lovely caramel cheesecake.

Balducci Macchiato

I’ve saved the best for last and for me, there’s no doubt however that my favourite coffee shop in Cape Town and probably the World is Origin Coffee Roasting on 28 Hudson Street in de Waterkant area. Origins ShopOn the website, I wrote a glowing report about my experience, so I wont’ go into similar details here. In any case, Origin is in keeping with their name – the Artisan Coffee Roasters of Africa. They now have a barista training school and are providing coffees to restaurants and other cafes (like Manna Epicure on Kloof Street), needless to say their coffee is of course superb, having won the 2007 and 2008 South Africa Barista Championships but I’ll say more on them in a future  post – after all, they should get a special post as they are my favourite and this post is already getting quite long. Cape Town Coffee Scene – highly recommended !


Thanks Conde Nast Traveller

I’m not sure about you but, since I was a kid I loved travelling to different places and now that I am grown up, it’s always exciting to see other parts of the World and meet other people from the Globe. So, whenever I get the opportunity, I try and buy the UK edition of the Conde Nast Traveller (CN Traveller for short) – Wow ! There are so many wonderful places on this earth that God gave us. Anyway to cut a long excitement note short, in the December 2007 edition, there was a piece on Cafe Culture in Vienna, Austria, where I currently live and of course I went straight to the article. I was so intrigued by what I read, that I just had to write in to CN Traveller and mildly complain about the feature on the traditional Cafes in Vienna. See below

 CN Letter

In any case as you can see above, they were so impressed with my letter that they published it in their February 2008 Edition. I managed to get some publicity too and surprise! surpirse!, I got my most hits on this website and blog during the month of January 2008. So I just wanted to say thanks to the Editor and staff at CN Traveller.

If you’ve got the cash and want to dream about your next holiday to amazing places, I recommend you buy this fabulous magazine and I ain’t getting paid to say that, honestly !

My Travel Companion

As you know by now, I’m kind off serious about coffee and don’t believe in compromising on taste and quality just to get a coffee “fix”.  So, as I cannot take my 14 KG espresso machine with me together with grinder, tamper, etc, when I travel, the second best thing for me is drinking filter coffee, with freshly roasted coffee beans of course. So you can imagine that I must have been really excited when I discovered a plastic cafetiere mug ideal for travelling with and made by  Bodum – I’m not getting paid by them for this, but if you know anyone who works for them, send them a link to my website, so that they can at least think about it. In any case, here’s a picture below of this wonderful invention, taken on my last trip to Zambia in southern Africa. Travel Mug

I usually take this with me when going to places where it might be difficult to get a decent cup of coffee. For Zambia, this might sound strange as their crop of arabica beans can be found easily in most European or American speciality stores (Starbucks sells them on the internet), but sadly, they tend to export all the good stuff and so it is difficult to get well roasted coffee beans in Zambia. The travel mug is a good size and it is enough for two small cups or one mug and quite light and simple to use. It cost me about 5 Euros (or $7 in today’s bad dollar exchange days). Recommended for your collection when you travel to those places where it might be difficult to get your regular dose of quality coffee to drink.

Latte with Fries ?

Not sure if you have been reading the newspapers recently, but it looks like we are about to enter another evolution in coffee drinking. News journals from your local paper to international magazines like the Economist have been featuring articles on the fall of Starbucks and the entry of McDonalds into the coffee shop market.

McBeansApparently, there was a study done last year in the US and more people preferred coffee made by McDonalds to that from Starbucks – Ouch ! True, we are not talking about the stuff we have been getting at McDees for years as McDonalds have invested in buying higher quality coffee beans and equipment and so have upped the competition a bit. McDonalds plan to roll out more cafes over the next few months whilst Starbucks struggles to get back its reputation. In any case, there appears to be a battle on the cards and to avoid getting sued by the big boys, I’ll keep this post brief and encourage you to experiment with which coffee you prefer if you have the time and money of course. As soon as I get some big bucks to pay big lawyers’ fees, perhaps we can run our own poll next year on who is best. In any case, I think it’s positive, as it is giving way to more publicity about the quality of coffee – something I’m really trying to push for.

For more reading, check out www.economist.com and use their search engine for Starbucks.

%d bloggers like this: