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The coffee snob list: SA’s top roasteries and cafés

SA’s coffee culture has been brewing up a storm over the last few years with new roasters popping up in the country’s hippest hubs and sleepy suburbs. For those of you who turn your nose up at a cup of instant, we’ve rounded up a list of great coffee spots that roast their own beans, create speciality blends or serve interesting coffee drinks. Have you got an absolute favourite brew? We’ll be awarding the best coffee shop in you province this October at the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Best Everyday Eateries. Cast your vote by reviewing your favourite now.

Johannesburg

4th Ave Coffee Roasters (Parkhurst)
According to a sign in this roastery, pink isn’t a colour, it’s an attitude, and judging by the looks of the bright fuchsia walls, this tiny glass house has a whole lot of attitude. They also have a whole lot of generosity when it comes to slicing gorgeous thick-based pecan-nut cheesecake that goes perfectly with the flat white (R20 a cup) here, made with the signature Arabica blend of central American and African beans roasted offsite.

A flat white at 4th Avenue Coffee. Photo supplied.

A flat white at 4th Avenue Coffee. Photo by Sylvia McKeown.

Bean There (44 Stanley)
One of the city’s original roasters is still going strong, serving up full-bodied yet delicate roasts that pack a sweet, berry-toned punch. Bean There’s famously fairtrade beans hail from across Africa. Enjoy your coffee on the go with an even clearer conscience sipping from 100% compostable cups or, if you would rather sit down and enjoy a cup in the meeting rooms for hire, then try two methods of coffee from the tasting menu for R50. Nowhere else in the city will you find the likes of a Chemex and Aeropress combo at those prices.

Kenyan beans from Bean There. Photo supplied.

Kenyan beans from Bean There. Photo by Sylvia McKeown.

Craft Coffee (Newtown)
Nestled near the famous graffittied underpass, in a white corniced building established in 1913, is this hidden gem of a roastery that’s frequented by local businesspeople, artists and Metrorail workers alike. Grab a wonderfully sunny spot and a cup of the house blend. Barista Neo insists the Indian beans lend each shot a sweet spiciness, which balances out the citrus tones from Guatemala and Brazil.

A flat white at Craft Coffee. Photo supplied.

A flat white at Craft Coffee. Photo by Sylvia McKeown.

Doubleshot Coffee & Tea (Braamfontein)
Caffeine lovers of all types can rejoice at Braams’s first indie roastery, a proudly vegetarian establishment that focuses as much on small-batch hand-crafted teas as on roasted beans. Each batch of coffee is made with a specific function in mind, such as the Barista Blend that features a double combo of acid from their Malawian and Brazilian beans that promises to make any milk-based coffee sing.

The vibe at Double Shot.

The vibe at Double Shot in Braamfontein. Photo by Sylvia McKeown.

Father Coffee (Braamfontein, Rosebank)
What started out as a side hustle for a bunch of tattooed and bearded enthusiastic coffee connoisseurs has become a staple in the Johannesburg coffee landscape. With impeccably roasted micro-lot beans, combined with the best almond croissants in town, this spot attracts cool kids to its pine-clad halls, who all wait to get their fix from Felix, by far the best-dressed barista in town.

The interior at Father Coffee. Photo supplied.

The interior at Father Coffee. Photo by Sylvia McKeown.

Firebird (Maboneng)
Originally hailing from Durban, these sustainably sourced, single-origin beans from the Long Mile Coffee Project enjoy their northern home in the courtyard of the restored Cosmopolitan hotel. Sit and unwind amongst the wild foliage of the country garden or get your favourite style of brew as a takeaway and go upstairs to check out the Hazard Gallery’s latest show. Either way, nab one of the lush mini cheesecakes – if they have any left, that is.

A flat white at Firebird. Photo supplied.

A flat white at Firebird. Photo by Sylvia McEown.

Loof Coffee (Norwood)
Make yourself at home with one of the many second-hand books sprawled around this cosy and popular shared workspace just off the culinary jumble that is Grant Avenue. This former hole-in-the-wall coffee shop has recently doubled in size to include an in-house bakery that makes delicious treats to complement the Arabica house blend of 70–75% central American and 25–30% African beans, made especially by a private roaster.

Motherland (Rosebank, Dunkeld and Parkview)
Joburg’s answer to a coffee-house chain has a lot less red and a lot more soulful RnB. This African-focused brand of cafés has established a loyal coffee-drinking fanbase in spite of its lack of flashy Chemex options – although you can get a pour-over for R24 – thanks to its great service, good food and fun-filled names. Whether you order a Dictator (espresso with condensed milk); a Frozen Tourist (blended ice, espresso, chocolate powder and flavoured syrup); a Refugee (any non-caffeinated fare); or a simple single-shot cap, you’re guaranteed to leave satisfied and smiling.

Coffee drinks at Motherland. Photo supplied.

Coffee drinks at Motherland. Photo by Sylvia McKeown

State 5 Coffee Roastery (Greenside)
Normally any coffee that illustrates its blends with various moustaches and beards would have us worried, but there is nothing to fear here, as State 5 delivers with subtle flavours of caramel, berries or molasses depending on which shape of facial hair you pick. This roastery-café is also one of the few to serve more than muffins to its legion of loyal coffice customers who make the best of the uncapped WiFi; look forward to all-day breakfasts, salads, sandwiches and slow-roasted lamb yiros on the menu.

Coffee being prepared at State 5 Coffee. Photo supplied.

Coffee being prepared at State 5 Coffee. Photo by Sylvia McKeown.

Urban Grind (Parkhurst)
Home to the largest cortado in the village, this roastery is every coffee nerd’s paradise. Fully kitted out with not just your usual indie connoisseur’s siphons and Aeropresses, Urban Grind also stocks machines of all professional levels and sizes with the added bonus of on-site barista training so you can learn how to use them properly. And, while you’re at it, why not get a haircut and a beard trim from in-house neighbours, Bonafide Beards, to go along with your favourite form of single-origin poison? .

A flat white at Urban Grind. Photo supplied.

A flat white at Urban Grind. Photo by Sylvia McKeown.

Pretoria

Aroma (Brooklyn)
Aroma’s coffee is made using a variety of beans originating from Ethiopia, Uganda, Colombia and Guatemala. Rich, multidimensional flavours and aromas can be expected in every cup. A cappuccino costs R24. There’s also a selection of easy eats available.

BICCCS (Waterkloof Ridge)
BICCCS coffee is prepared using signature The One coffee beans. These are roasted for BICCCS by Tribeca, and come perfectly prepped for the specific coffee style here – rich and aromatic. They’re a cult favourite. A cappuccino costs R25, and don’t dare leave without trying the home-baked bread or croissants. (WiFi is also available.)

Carlton Café Delicious (Menlo Park)
Carlton Café uses Bean There fairtrade beans in a range of standard coffees, but for something a little extra, try the Taai Koffie with condensed milk or Rachel’s Coffee, which is laced with dark chocolate. A cappuccino costs R20. (WiFi is also available for patrons.)

The coffee counter at Carlton Café Delicious. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The coffee counter at Carlton Café Delicious. Photo supplied.

El Pistolero (Constantia Park)
This may not necessarily be where you’d think to go for an excellent cup of coffee, but the Moka pot coffee (R20) made with Doubleshot beans is just delicious. Order the deep-fried churros alongside to enjoy with your drink.

Ginger & Fig (Brooklyn)
Ginger & Fig uses Doubleshot beans to create a glorious selection of coffees. The barista makes magic with the beans to craft seriously delectable coffee. There’s a reason regulars stop here every morning before work. A cappuccino costs R22; a flat white R25. The pasteis de nata are the perfect accompaniment to the excellent coffee. (WiFi available.)

Grounded (Villeria)
A good cup of coffee is few and far between in Die Moot, but Grounded is changing the game. The coffee here is made with beans from three Central American nations: Costa Rica, Brazil and Guatemala. A short cappuccino costs R21. Grab one of the delicious toasties for a quick, awesome breakfast. (WiFi is available and Grounded is also pet friendly.)

Lucky Bread Co. (Brooklyn)
Lucky Bread Co. is where serious coffee snobs go to indulge. The display of coffee beans alone shows you how serious they are about the craft of brewing a seriously good cup. (Colombian La Varsovia or Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, anyone?) Order any one of the styles, but the pour-over is always a joy. A cappuccino or flat white will knock you back R20. There are also have excellent pastries and breakfast options, and you can buy beans to take home.

Lucky Bread Company coffee

Coffee at Lucky Bread Company. Photo supplied.

Old Town Italy (Menlyn Maine)
Old Town Italy prides itself on its La Dolce Vita Caffe beans, which are lovingly roasted by a roaster who has more than 50 years’ experience. The beans are available in all the standard coffees you’d expect, with the doppio espresso being a firm favorite. A cappuccino costs R22. Breakfasts are lovely and the bombolini (Italian filled doughnuts) are perfect enjoyed with a freshly brewed cup.

A coffee at Old Town Italy. Photo supplied.

A coffee at Old Town Italy. Photo supplied.

Tribeca (Brooklyn, Lynnwood, CBD)
Tribeca has been a go-to for fantastic coffee for many, many years in Pretoria. Having its own roastery ensures Tribeca’s coffee is always of the highest standard. Pour-overs are not offered, but you won’t be disappointed with the selection of classic coffees. A short flat white costs R26. All of the branches offer a good selection of breakfasts. (WiFi available.)

Vintage Coffee (Lynnwood)
This is where serious coffee is made and enjoyed in the capital. The super-trendy small shop in Lynnwood is where to go if you’re in the mood for coffee that’s not available on your average menu. This coffee is a blend of beans from Tanzania and Brazil, and is roasted by the masters from Roast Republic. Pour-over, Chemex and siphon are all on offer. A cappuccino costs R25.

A flat white being poured at Vintage Coffee. Photo supplied.

A flat white being poured at Vintage Coffee. Photo supplied..

Durban and surrounds

Bean Green Coffee Roastery (Glenwood)
This quirky space is owned by Peter Winter and his award-winning barista daughter, Mel. The organic beans on offer are Ethiopian, roasted in small batches on the premises and served as single origin or in blends like Bean Green signature. Locals can enjoy the comforting crackle of the record player and sip on a perfect flat whites (R17) paired with the popular triple-chocolate brownie or apple crumble.

A flat white and biscuit at Bean Green Coffee in Glenwood. Photo by Jan Ras.

A flat white and biscuit at Bean Green Coffee in Glenwood. Photo by Jan Ras.

Beaver Creek Coffee (Port Edward)
Arabica beans are grown, harvested and roasted on this picturesque estate. Beaver Creek also imports beans from the world’s top coffee producing areas, which are roasted and packed on site. Visit the estate for a ‘crop to cup’ tour, an award-winning cuppa (R26 for a flat white), and breakfast at the farm café, or take a barista course for only R250. Pro tip: Aficionados can also purchase coffees online.

Colombo Coffee's new home in Durban North. Photo supplied.

Colombo Coffee’s new home in Durban North. Photo supplied.

 

The roaster at Colombo Coffee in Durban North. Photo supplied.

The roaster at Colombo Coffee in Durban North. Photo supplied.

Colombo Coffee (Durban North)
Colombo Coffee, one of KZN’s much-loved coffee roasters, has settled in nicely in its Durban North home. While these brews can be found in many of the city’s favourite restaurants, loyal fans can now stop off at the Adelaide Tambo Drive location for a quick flat white (R28 for a double), a pastry, or even a coffee appreciation masterclass. The Colombo team sources beans from the finest green coffee from growers in Africa, and South and Central America, with an array of warm drinks ranging from the classic cafe latte and Americano to slow-brewed coffees done in a French press or syphon.

Fortune Coffee (Morningside)
This coffee shop is nestled inside the beautiful Con Amore decor store, offering excellent coffee (made by talented baristas with Coffee Merchant and Costa Rica beans), power smoothies, breakfasts, and Mediterranean-inspired lunches of salads, wraps and pita breads. A delicious large cappuccino will set you back R24.

Lineage Coffee (Hillcrest)
Craig Charity, award-winning barista and owner of Lineage Coffee, has been in the game for over 10 years and is keeping caffeine hunters happy with his coffee roastery and café in Hillcrest. Order a flat white (R25) made from organic Ethiopian, Ugandan and Burundian beans or stop in to purchase some coffee equipment.

Craig Charity doing his thing at Lineage Coffee. Photo supplied.

Craig Charity doing his thing at Lineage Coffee. Photo supplied.

Noble Coffee (Clairwood)
This hole-in-the-wall coffee shop is one of the hippest hidden gems to hit the city. Caffeine lovers can find everything here, from a flat white (R25) to ristretto or V60 pour overs with green beans from Cultivar Coffee and Tanzania. Light snacks by Renegade Kitchen are also on offer, as well as freshly baked pastries. Keep your eyes on the Facebook page for music nights and other events.

Noble Coffee in Durban. Photo supplied.

Noble Coffee in Durban. Photo supplied.

Terbodore Coffee Roasters (Curry’s Post)
Terbodore roasteries are located in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and in Franschhoek, and use imported Arabica coffee beans from 13 different countries. These are roasted, blended and flavoured on site to create the full-bodied range of coffees including the signature dark-roast Great Dane blend. The roasters also offer a range of flavoured brews (hazelnut, French vanilla, Dutch chocolate and English toffee) and have forged a partnership with the Sharks rugby team to make their very own blend. Settle in the sun and enjoy a flat white (R25) with a treat like milk-tart cigars, muffins, cinnamon-and-walnut cheesecake, or home-made scones. If you’re wanting to sip on something different, go for the Tin Cup. This consists of a double shot of espresso and condensed milk topped with stretched milk (R30). 

Cape Town

Bean There Coffee Company (City Bowl)
This city-bowl roastery is South Africa’s first to offer certified Fairtrade coffee. Beans are sourced from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC. The beans are roasted in the Wale Street coffee shop, so you can watch the whole process while you’re sipping on your mid-morning cuppa. They sell single-origin coffee only (no blends) so that you can taste each country’s unique character and be assured of the highest quality. A selection of coffee accessories and equipment such as plungers, grinders, espresso machines and hand-crafted chocolate are also on offer at the shop.

A coffee at Bean There Coffee on Wale Street. Photo by Ruby Jean Photography.

A coffee at Bean There Coffee on Wale Street. Photo by Ruby Jean Photography.

Bootlegger Coffee Company  (Kenilworth, Kalk Bay, Sea Point)
The team here has carefully selected beans from Guatemala, Costa Rica and Tanzania, which are then roasted on a daily basis on site. The coffee blends display hints of toasted hazelnut, caramel and dark chocolate. You can watch the roaster whirr away as you sip on a flat white (R26) and enjoy delicious breakfasts, lunches or coffee treats. Pro tip: Take advantage of the daily R16 coffee special from 6.30am to 8.30am.

Bootlegger

The Bootlegger Coffee Company. Photo by Jan Ras.

Deluxe Coffeeworks (Gardens)
This small roastery has a bit of a cult following. The blends of coffee are delicious, unique and sourced from all over the globe, including Ethiopia, Guatemala and Costa Rica. Beans to take home can be freshly ground to your specifications while you sip away on your favourite brew (R18 for a flat white) and soak up the edgy atmosphere.

Espresso Lab Microroasters (Woodstock)
This passionate speciality coffee roastery has a hand-picked selection of imported green beans roasted in small batches at low temperatures on the premises. The owner has spent some time in Scandinavia and has learnt an approach that leads to a more subtle aroma and taste of the palate. Most of the beans are organic, and single-origin beans as well as blends from Costa Rica to Indonesia are offered. Escape the Neighbourgoods Market on a Saturday and sneak in here for a Black Ice (espresso, crushed ice and natural sweetener), a Vitamin C espresso shot (with orange juice), or a coffee and tonic. (Prices range from R22 to R30.)

A coffee station at Espresso Lab Microroasters. Photo supplied.

A coffee station at Espresso Lab Microroasters. Photo supplied.

Flatmountain Coffee (Woodstock)
From floral Ethiopian Sidamo to the creamy Malawian Mzuzu, this hipster hotspot on Sir Lowry Road roasts some top-notch beans for Woodstock locals. The coffee menu is similar to that of a comprehensive wine list, with tasting notes on each blend and single-origin cup. A Heritage blend is also offered, made up of two South American coffees mixed with a touch of African beans for a smooth, floral finish.

Haas Coffee (City Bowl)
Coffee at this beautiful coffee spot is described by the Haas team as art itself. The roasters have taken great care in sourcing the finest beans from around the world, including a variety of single-origin coffees from Brazil and Indonesia. Sip on Ethiopian, Guatemalan or Colombian single-origin coffees or try the complex Haas blend (R23 for a flat white). Those who prefer something even more exotic could sample the delectably smooth Jamaican Blue Mountain, made with beans that have been shade grown on the misty slopes of the Jamaican mountains at an altitude of 1 700m. Die-hard coffee fans can order the Death Wish, the world’s strongest coffee, all the way from New York state. Not for the faint-hearted, this cup packs 200% more caffeine punch.

The cake table at Haas Coffee Collective. Photo courtesy of VISI.

The cake table at Haas Coffee Collective. Photo courtesy of VISI.

Hard Pressed (Foreshore)
Good coffee coupled with good music is hard to beat. And with seating both indoors and outdoors, plus free WiFi, this little gem is a great place to get a caffeine fix before, after or during working hours. Their delicious coffee is a special blend courtesy of Mischu and goes great with one of their brekkies or hearty sandwiches.

Hard Pressed Cafe

Coffee at Hard Pressed Cafe. Photo supplied.

Hazz Coffee (Newlands)
At Hazz you can sip on a special blend of pure Arabica beans poured to perfection by master baristas. The boutique roastery and espresso bar serves classic caffeinated drinks, from the flat white (R20 for a double) to the macchiato. You can also order special plunger and Chemex brews. To pair a snack with your cuppa, tuck into deli sandwiches and pastries.

The House of Machines (City Bowl)
The friendly baristas here serve killer 100% certified organic Arabica beans from The House of Machines’s own brand, Evil Twin. The flat whites here are pretty spectacular, and the shop is open from 7am on weekdays for early birds. Pro tip: Go before 9am to take advantage of the discounted coffees (R15 for a single; R20 for a double).

Mischu (Sea Point)
This friendly café has won awards for its wonderfully smooth, rich Isabella Blend. Grab a pastry and order your coffee to go and take it for a walk to the promenade. And, if you’re looking for a taste further down the Sea Point strip, you’ll find them pouring outside Laughton’s Hardware, too.

A beautiful coffee at Mischu. Photo supplied.

A beautiful coffee at Mischu. Photo supplied.

Origin Coffee Roasting (City Bowl)
This artisanal roastery and barista school is also home to a bustling café. Grab a table and sip on your favourite brew and enjoy a bagel, buy boxes of roasted coffees, or watch the espresso machine and coffee grinders at work. Beans come from Africa, South America, Central America and Asia Pacific, and the baristas also serve nitro coffee and nitrogen-infused tea.

Shift Espresso Bar (Green Point)
Organic Fair Trade coffee, sourced and roasted in Africa, is the drink of choice at this cool coffee spot. While there are some good breakfasts and bakes, Shift’s forte is speciality coffees, made with some pretty decadent extras. Standouts are the Hashtag, with a blended double-shot of espresso, vanilla ice cream and Oreos (R35), and the Italian Plumber, with vanilla ice cream, Nutella and condensed milk (R40). Pro tip: Take advantage of the morning special where all classic coffees go for R15 between 7am to 9am, Monday to Saturday.

Truth Coffee Roasting (City Bowl)
This stylish steampunk spot serves artisanal coffee made with ethically selected green coffee that’s been micro-roasted in-house. The most popular brew is, of course, the flat white (R23). The Truth team choice, however, is the Sunrise Espresso, a double shot of espresso with a dash of orange juice, which is apparently way more delicious than it sounds.

The Truth interior. Photo supplied.

The Truth interior and roaster. Photo supplied.

Tribe Coffee (Woodstock)
Before settling down to a cup of coffee with a muffin, croissant or pastry from the confectionery counter, take a walk through the eclectic courtyard to the roasting room and meet ‘woman of steel’ Bertha, the roaster. She is responsible for roasting the beans that come from organically certified farms from around the globe. There’s also a stellar decaf option for those looking to cut down on the caffeine. The team are also launching a new menu soon, so be sure to keep your eyes out for that.

A flat white at Tribe. Photo supplied.

A flat white at Tribe. Photo supplied.

Rosetta Roastery (Woodstock)
This roastery, located in the cool creative hub of the Woodstock Exchange, sources single-origin and -estate coffees from South and Central America, Africa, and Asia. Visit the coffee bar and enjoy your choice of coffee and bean (R30 for a flat white) with a pastry. You can also grab a slow brew, with a choice between a pour-over or a Kyoto ice coffee.

Rosetta Roastery. Photo suppled.

Rosetta Roastery. Photo suppled.

Winelands

Beans About Coffee (Riebeek-Kasteel)
Beans About Coffee offers great coffee blends with quality, rich flavour and freshness. The 100% Arabica coffee beans are sourced from Guatemala, Brazil, Ethiopia and Colombia. Complement your choice of coffee (R24 for a flat white) with a stroll around the quaint town of Riebeek Kasteel.

The entrance to Beans About Coffee in Riebeek Kasteel. Photo supplied.

The entrance to Beans About Coffee in Riebeek Kasteel. Photo supplied.

The Coffee Roasting Company (Somerset West)
This roastery is located on the beautiful Lourensford Wine Estate and serves hand-picked speciality single-origin coffees that are 100% Arabica. The beans are sourced from all over the world, including Africa, Colombia, India, Peru, Indonesia and Guatemala. Pop in to buy your beans or find a cosy spot on the couch and play a board game while enjoying your cuppa (R28 for a grande flat white). The roastery also has a nifty deli filled with lovely spreads, chocolates and olive oils.

Meraki (Stellenbosch)
This picture-perfect coffee shop ticks all the boxes with its beautiful and homely food and drinks, and friendly service. The beans here are from Deluxe Coffeeworks and are expertly turned into espresso, Americanos and flat whites (R22) for a caffeine kick. If you’re looking for something more exciting, the Deluxe beans also feature in the ice coffee and the ice latte. Baked creations are an irresistible accompaniment, too.

A table scene at Meraki. Photo supplied.

A table scene at Meraki. Photo supplied.

Terbodore Coffee Roasters (Franschhoek)
This roastery uses imported Arabica coffee beans from 13 different countries. They are roasted, blended and flavoured on site to create the full-bodied range of Terbodore coffees, including the signature dark-roast Great Dane blend. The roasters also offer a range of flavoured brews (hazelnut, French vanilla, Dutch chocolate and English toffee). There’s a quirky coffee truck that does the rounds, too, offering fresh, hot fairtrade brews with a savoury or sweet pastry twist.

Beans fresh from the roaster at Terbodore.

Beans fresh from the roaster at Terbodore.

Snob’s Coffee (Somerset West)
Snob’s Coffee is the first solar-powered roastery in the country. The beans are heated with infrared radiation heaters in a revolving perforated drum, which then transfers secondary heat to the beans via conduction. This process is not only great for the environment, but it also adds an intense flavour from the slowly developed beans. The selection of coffees includes 11 different blends and single-origin options. A flat white will set you back R28 for a large. Pro tip: The Afternoon Bliss bean has a lower caffeine content, so it won’t keep you up all night.

Strictly Coffee (Robertson)
This boutique coffee roastery makes a good post-wine-tasting pit stop. The team roasts a variety of coffees from around the world, including Zimbabwe, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Sidamo in Ethiopia. The policy is to roast to order, so that customers get the freshest possible brews. (R20 for a large flat white.)

Please note that while we take care to ensure the accuracy of our information, some details might change without our knowledge.

Have we missed your favourite coffee roastery or café? Please share it with your fellow coffee lovers in the comments below.

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