If, like me, you don’t know your acidity from your aero press, or your burr grinder from your percolation method, look no further.
I’m bringing myself (and you) quickly up to speed with the latest coffee jargon (there are only so many times I can roll my eyes and affect nonchalance when colleagues speak coffee).
But first, a list of the top spots in Cape Town to find robust, high-quality Craft Coffee in Cape Town…
WHERE TO FIND THIRD WAVE COFFEE IN CAPE TOWN
Bootlegger Coffee Company
Bootlegger Coffee Company make a mean cup of coffee from ‘the best beans we can find’, roasted in ‘a way nobody else does’, which is why their coffee tastes so good. They also roast coffee fresh daily in their shops, and let everyone know when their new roasts are in on Facebook and Twitter. Red-eye R14 coffee served between 06h30 and 08h30am every day.
Fans speak about the Deluxe experience, give the house blend a 10/10 and rate the coffee as, arguably, the best in town. Deluxe Coffeeworks is a quirky little spot that roasts its own coffees and distributes them around Cape Town. Their emphasis is on great coffee, interesting people and good music, not on food.
Where: 25 Church Street, CBD or 6 Roodehek Street, Gardens
Department of Coffee
The very first artisan coffee house in amongst the iron shacks of Khayelitsha, the Department of Coffee must be the only coffee shop in the country where you can get a filter coffee for under R10. Their coffees are locally roasted especially for them and their long-term goals include breaking down the wall between Cape Town and Khayelitsha.
Where: VPUU Building, cnr Ntlazane Road and Khwezi Crescent (with a new shop recently opened in Philippi)
Espresso Lab Microroasters
A specialty coffee roastery based at The Old Biscuit Mill, Espresso Lab is a perfect stop combined with the weekly Saturday morning market. The queue, however, invariably stretches out of the door. If you’re after a quieter experience then go during the week.
Where: Albert Road, Woodstock
Haas Coffee Collective
This once Bo-Kaap based, now in The Fringe, coffee shop-meets-advertising-and-art-and-design has more than proved its mettle. The gallery cum coffee-shop has a gorgeous interior and the staff wear top hats and waistcoats. Best of all, the coffee is exceptional.
Where: 19 Buitenkant Street
Origin Coffee Roasters
The coffee and tea (Nigiro) hub in De Waterkant never fails to meet expectations. If you head upstairs you can visit their roasting and packing department, and there is a hidden courtyard up on the roof. The décor is fantastic and the communal tables add to the atmosphere.
Where: 28 Hudson Street, De Waterkant
Based in the Woodstock Exchange, these guys source single origin coffees and micro-roast each to produce the perfect cup of coffee. If you like unusual coffee, head to their tastings. Their range of different brewing methods is fun, and their coffees excellent. Don’t miss out on the chocolate croissants.
Where: Albert Road, Woodstock
Tribe Coffee Roasting
Yet another Woodstock coffee roastery, Tribe Coffee’s headquarters are hidden away at the back of the Woodstock Foundry. If you ask them, they might take you through the roastery and answer any questions, but it’s their new concept BMW motorcycle crossed with coffee café store that has the tongues wagging.
Where: 160 Albert Road, Woodstock and The Studios, 112 Buitengracht street
The UK Telegraph listed them as one of the best coffee shops in the world, and it isn’t difficult to understand why. Their steam punk shop is less coffee shop than it is theatre showpiece, but it pays to grab a cup either from their ‘window’ or brave the saloon environment and head inside for an experience. Order beans or ground coffee online.
Where: 36 Buitenkant Street, Fringe District
COFFEE JARGON SIMPLIFIED
Acidity – this doesn’t mean the coffee tastes acidic, but it describes, instead, the fruity and tangy flavour that some coffees have.
Aged coffee, vintage – coffee stored for several years, either deliberately or negligently, which reduces the acidity and increases body.
Arabica – the most widely grown coffee tree (70% of the world’s coffee) regarded as hugely superior to other coffee species (like Robusta).
Barista – Italian for ‘bartender’, this is the chap you makes you your cuppa. They’re supposed to know their coffee.
Bird friendly – shade-grown coffee; coffee grown under a canopy in shade (mostly South America but also parts of India, Indonesia and Africa). These are considered easier on the environment than sun grown coffees – better tasting, and friendly to migrating birds – although there is contention voiced by farmers who grow coffee in the sun but also have forest reserves.
Body – one of the main categories for coffee considered by professional tasters (the others are flavour, acidity and aroma), it describes the richness and heaviness of coffee.
Burr grinder – a mill that evenly grinds coffee beans – fine through to coarse, brewing method depending. What is essential to a tasty cup of coffee is the consistency of coffee granules.
Clean – a tasting term that describes coffee that is free from any weaknesses in flavour.
Complexity – another tasting term describing the layers of coffee pleasure, implying depth and fullness.
Crema – it doesn’t describe the ‘cream’ or froth of milky coffee, but rather the brown foam that should coat a well-brewed cup of espresso.
Cupping – an evaluation of a specific type of coffee, noting the tastes and aromas of the brew.
Estate Coffee – unlike single-origin, estate coffee is grown on several farms but in one region.
Grade – the size of the coffee bean; the larger the better the flavour.
Mouthfeel – literally the way it feels in the mouth – silky, smooth etc.
Over extracted – that bitter or burnt taste when ground coffee has been exposed to hot water for too long.
Percolation – any coffee brewing method that uses hot water to filter down through, a bed of ground coffee.
Robusta – the other type of coffee bean plant most commonly used for coffee. Robusta and Arabica are virtually the only coffee species used to make coffee.
Tamping – using a little, pestle-like appliance that has a flat end that compresses the ground coffee inside the filter basket.
Whole bean – the unground coffee bean; it’s roasted and ready for grinding and brewing. In this form it stays fresher for longer.