Tag Archives: cafe

Bean Republic, Corlett Drive

You know those places that every time you drive past, you think to yourself: “I really need to go there!” Bean Republic is one of those places. The facade out onto Corlett drive is all wooden, echoing the trend of coffee shops everywhere these days, with huge green signage beckoning you in. The colour scheme and decor are reminiscent of Cuba, but owner Edwin Ndlovu explained that his coffee is absolutely not “single origin”, but rather a collection of coffee, a big coffee Republic, where the best of the best coffee comes together to give you great coffee. Under the supervision of experienced and passionate Edwin himself of course.

There are quotes and satirical fictional headlines from newspapers all around the shop, so you really get the feel that you might be in some sort of republic after all

There are quotes and satirical fictional headlines from newspapers all around the shop, so you really get the feel that you might be in some sort of republic after all

After years in the industry, Ndlovu finally decided he needed to branch out on his own and do the job better than the people around him, because why should customers receive anything less? Bean Republic has been open since November 2012. Edwin Ndlovu Despite the vibey exterior and his catchy enthusiasm, however, the coffee was a bit disappointing. The flavour wasn’t full or significant, leaving a slight taste of dirty water, as weak coffee tends to do. The interior also felt like it left much to be desired, with a greasy countertop and peeling menus. Apart from that let down, the interior was also a fun mix match of furniture which Ndlovu has developed a collection of over the past 20 years, since he started working towards his dream. Downstairs is a room that looks like it probably bustles with less mainstream entertainment, which Ndlovu has big plans for this year. Some of which includes wine and traditional food menus, poetry readings and other performances. Bean Republic Downstairs They didn’t have any cake when I was there, but their cake menu looked amazing. Ever had Hummingbird cake? I feel like I might just go back there to give it a try. Edwin was in the process of creating some pasta recipes to populate the menu, to accompany the rump steak and other main menu options. Their breakfast menu is also really extensive with a good range of recently repopularised recipes like frittatas and solid classics like French toast, all for a highly competitive price. This is important because lately all restaurants are charging so much for the most important meal of the day! It’s definitely worth giving a chance, even if it’s just to have a chat with Edwin. He says,

“For coffee to survive, tea must die”

While I’m quite a fan of tea (though my love for coffee hasn’t died either), his message has political undertones, which I encourage you to find more about when you pay him a visit.

A bright idea – Revelations Grahamstown

It’s amazing what new management can do. In my first year at Grahamstown there was this random little coffee shop at the only shopping centre in town. Sometimes you’d hear of people going there, but mostly it felt like walking past some long-forgotten church, or the University library at the start of the New Year (when people have forgotten how much work they could actually be getting done in there). Now, Revelations Café is a go-to food-spot, especially if you like your cakes.

eat coffee tea signageThey had a great revamp and gained popularity again in 2012, with all sorts of wonderful specials to draw in the crowds. Not only were the prices reasonable and competitive, but also the quality of the food was really above the common Grahamstown standard.

Cake

Their cakes would be one of their major draw factors: they are made perfectly every time and they have a really nice wide variety. I was disappointed to learn that they don’t actually make these on site, however. The cakes are supplied by Chateaux Gateaux. Since learning this, it appears that a huge number of coffee shops have their cakes supplied by them too. So Revelations’ cakes aren’t all that special, though they are really delicious (and you can’t beat mass-produced consistency sometimes, can you?).

Breakfast specials are great on a student budget, but a real omelette is a nice and wholesome break away from res food

Breakfast specials are great on a student budget, but a real omelette is a nice and wholesome break away from res food

Their breakfasts are definitely winners. Sometimes they offer a breakfast special, though their breakfast menu options are worth spending the extra money on. They are generous with their portions, particularly in their omelettes.

Waffles are good for breakfast too... Revelations knows how to maximise on the Bar One too, which is great!

Waffles are good for breakfast too… Revelations knows how to maximise on the Bar One too, which is great!

Revelations offers lunch and dinner options as well. On a student budget a lot of the dinner choices are a bit excessive, though they are around the same price as you would expect to pay in other larger towns and cities, and the quality is good (think café burgers rather than steakhouse burgers though). Their wide range can cater for a number of dietary requirements (healthier options and vegetarian options, for example), but it does make decisions really hard.

Chicken and bacon wrap with a berry smoothie, a wholesome healthy lunch (that is also delicious)

Chicken and bacon wrap with a berry smoothie, a wholesome healthy lunch (that is also delicious)

Chicken , bacon, apple and blue cheese salad with a Mango smoothie. This was a half portion too, so they are really generous

Chicken , bacon, apple and blue cheese salad with a Mango smoothie. This was a half portion too, so they are really generous

You can enjoy their delicious smoothies out under the trees or you can cuddle up under cover on the couch with a decadent hot chocolate (complete with marshmallows, whipped cream and a flake), which makes it ideal for summer or winter treats.

Banana and almond smoothie and a vanilla milkshake. The smoothie was delicious, but it could have done well with a bigger straw because the nuts were not too finely chopped

Banana and almond smoothie and a vanilla milkshake. The smoothie was delicious, but it could have done well with a bigger straw because the nuts were not too finely chopped

Generally their service is very friendly, though relaxed enough that you remember you are not in a large town where waiters are there to pander immediately to your every whim.

They have a larger than average tea selection, and great options for teatime accompaniments

They have a larger than average tea selection, and great options for teatime accompaniments

This café is definitely worth a visit when in Grahamstown, and also good for regular treats with friends (just not on a Sunday, unfortunately).

Added bonus: they have free wifi.

The Homeground Advantage

Homeground Coffee Roasters: delicious, authentic and exclusive. And pretty much just not suited to Grahamstown. You would think that with their prime location right near campus, a cute little hole-in-the-wall that’s perfectly suited to the small-town that is G’Town, they would cater for one of their nearest consumers. Alas, the drive for excellence comes with a price, and if it’s not pay-day, most students are unable to afford it on a regular basis.

Homeground Coffee Roasters

Homeground Coffee Roasters

The have done very well on their branding and image, using quirky decor all around their coffee kiosk

The have done very well on their branding and image, using quirky decor all around their coffee kiosk

Homeground coffee is good. It has a unique flavour, and it is certainly prepared with lots of love, skill and attention to detail, which is highly commendable. You can really taste the subtleties in their flavours that they pride themselves on. It’s not my favourite flavour, but it is pretty great coffee in its essence.

Café mocha/chococcino ? You choose

Café mocha/chococcino ? You choose

Their menu is thorough and caters for the common coffee drinker, that is, those who do not appreciate the art that is coffee. There is almost an attitude of “Fine, I guess I will have to put milk and sugar in your coffee, Peasant… Oh, you want cappuccino art with that? Of course you do, Hipster.”

Latté art and a mocha-nut truffle slice. Only 15% flour in that brownie chunk of gold

Latté art and a mocha-nut truffle slice. Only 15% flour in that brownie chunk of gold

They also have a delicious range of baked goods. You can grab a packet of interesting flavoured biscotti biscuits which do well for a car snack (if they make it that far…). They do huge scones and muffins, spinach and feta flavoured and blueberry respectively. They like to change it up a bit as well, which is quite nice. That is the joy of being a small independent business in a close-knit town, I suppose.

Cappuccino and a great big blueberry muffin for breakfast to go please!

Cappuccino and a great big blueberry muffin for breakfast to go please!

Obviously this exclusivity comes with a price. I understand that they are teeny and probably have substantial overheads for their location and the fact that they don’t sell much to the local community – they serve as the coffee supplier for their other branches in Kenton and Johannesburg – so high prices are to be expected. But R22 for a tiny slice of truffle brownie something? It’s a bit excessive. Though it is made with top quality ingredients and it is absolutely delicious. That’s probably why I am complaining: I just can’t afford to eat as much as it’s deliciousness warrants!

Carrot cupcake with orange cream cheese frosting. Dinky and delicious!

Carrot cupcake with orange cream cheese frosting. Dinky and delicious!

Their open hours are also a bit of an issue in my life, but I feel the same way about most of Grahamstown’s other businesses: how can you only be open half-day on Saturday and not at all on Sunday? Those are treat days!

White chocolate almond and cranberry blondie bar. This was delicious, though I do think the cranberries were a bit overpowering of the other flavours. (Cranberries are great though, right?)

White chocolate almond and cranberry blondie bar. This was delicious, though I do think the cranberries were a bit overpowering of the other flavours. (Cranberries are great though, right?)

It’s a classy little spot, great to have a little chat with a cup of good quality coffee and a slice of Blondie, unless you’re living within your budget. Definitely worth the occasional treat though, so certainly do yourself the favour whenever you have the opportunity.

Lovely setting with a lovely coffee

Lovely setting with a lovely coffee