5 great black Americanos in Cape Town

Eat Out community manager Amy Ebedes has high standards when it comes to black Americanos. She gives us the low-down on where to get the best fix of black magic in Cape Town.

Here’s the thing. Just because your local serves <insert popular roastery’s name here> beans doesn’t mean they make a great cup of coffee. When a black Americano is your kryptonite, the barista’s technique (or lack thereof) becomes the key deciding factor into picking your morning fix. You see, there’s no milk or sugar to mask any flaws, and the flavour of the coffee comes down to how the grounds are treated.

Water too hot? The coffee will be burnt and very bitter. Grounds not compressed enough? Here’s a warm cup of java-flavoured water, ma’am. I could (and should) wax lyrical about preparation techniques, but overall, a great black Americano should be creamy, smooth, highlight the unique flavours of the beans in question, and ultimately be as – if not more – delicious as it grows cold. (Yes, I have been known to nurse my coffee for hours on end.)

For the uninitiated, an Americano is a single or double shot of espresso topped up with hot water. It’s not to be confused with the regular old filter coffee.

And so, in no particular order, I present my recommendation of where to get great black Americanos in Cape Town.

The House of Machines (Shortmarket Street)

Expect to be greeted by friendly baristas who, when you visit more than twice (and you will), will remember your order and have it out by the time you’re finished paying. The brew? 100% certified organic Arabica beans from their own brand, Evil Twin. They’re open from 7am on weekdays and have a small selection of muffins and snacks to go. Alternatively, grab a seat and take your pick from their concise breakfast menu. Pro tip: Go before 9am to take advantage of the discounted coffees (R15 for a single; R20 for a double) – and don’t forget to pin a loyalty card up on the wall. You will be back.

New week, same rules. ⚡ #dontbeadick

A photo posted by The Fine Purveyors (@thehouseofmachines) on

Woolworths store (Adderley Street)

Yes, it’s a corporate, but credit should be given where credit is due. There’s no denying these ever-grinning baristas know their stuff. The Woolies Fairtrade Organic All African beans are the weapon of choice, and the resulting black Americanos are deliciously smooth and creamy. Bonus: Bring your own mug and save R1; pay with your Woolies card and save a further 15%.

The baristas at the Adderley Street branch really know their stuff. Photo by Amy Ebedes.

The baristas at the Adderley Street branch really know their stuff. Photo by Amy Ebedes.


Rosetta Roastery (Woodstock Exchange)

If you’ve got the patience to find parking in Woodstock, stopping in at Rosetta is a must. Located at the uber-trendy Woodstock Exchange, Rosetta is renowned for its comprehensive range of coffees. The beans for coffees-to-go change frequently, and caffeine hunters can choose either a ‘progressive’ or ‘classic’ style of beans. Purchase a bag of beans and enjoy the short anecdotal story on each label. You can also choose from a small selection of pastries.

Espresso Lab (Old Bicuit Mill)

There’s no denying that Espresso Lab is one of the masters of the bean. The team roasts its own beans, sourced from single farms with a focus on fair and equal trade. The baristas are knowledgeable and have the technique down to a fine art. If you can handle your caffeine, I highly recommend ordering a Vitamin C shot with your Americano: a single espresso with a shot of freshly pressed lemon-and-ginger juice. It is a thing of absolute beauty.

Uncle Bear (Long Street)

Uncle Bear is a tiny coffee bar on Long Street. Blink and you’ll miss it. It offers a range of coffees according to your preference, including pour-overs and Aeropress. The beans change every week or so and are roasted – by the owner – off-site. A splash of cold mineral water is added to the black Americano here; this lovely touch means you can start sipping immediately.

Want some more options? Check out our guide to great artisan coffee roasters from August 2016.

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