Tag Archives: cappuccino

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.

Grahamstown’s special blend

Hand Made Coffees in Grahamstown is hands down the best coffee shop in town. It is probably the smallest, but they have the best staff, a cute and convenient location, and they focus on what’s important: the coffee.Garvey McConnell, the owner, explained how his addiction to coffee has benefited the students and citizens of Grahamstown, and much of the rest of the Eastern Cape.

cap art .jpg

Garvey himself has travelled the world, living and working in big cities from America to Europe, to Hong Kong, and finally decided to settle down in the small dorp of Hamburg. The assumption that the nearby city of East London would be able to the coffee needs he developed in his First World life, was futile, as many may have guessed – it is better to never expect Slummies to have much, that way you can be pleasantly surprised when they do.

Garvey needed freshly roasted beans in order to get his true fix. Anything less was a waste of his time. He started his little private roastary in his home, sourcing small bags of beans that he could prepare as he needed. Locals heard (smelled too, perhaps?) of his amazing blends, and he became the supplier for the area. This put a lot of pressure on his personal roaster, which eventually gave in, and Garvey was permitted (by the missus) to invest in a commercial roaster to support his booming business.

***

Hand Made Coffees was started because Garvey believes there is no point in having a roastary if you don’t get to taste the product you are buying, an error that other roastaries in the Eastern Cape have apparently made. The Grahamstown branch is located in a nook under the arch in front of the clock tower on Rhodes campus, which makes it perfectly situated for the students, and also easily accessible to the rest of the Grahamstown community.

Rhodes clocktower .jpg

They offer a good selection of brewed beverages, from cappuccinos to mochas, but their ultimate has got to be their iced coffee. They use a “secret ingredient” – which Sisa, the barista, unfortunately refused to divulge with me – and it makes for a refreshing Grahamstown Summer caffeine hit.

Sisa the barista.jpg

The coffee itself is also always an experience. Garvey likes to experiment with different flavours and bean combinations (blends) in his roasting, and if you’re a real coffee fundi, you will be able to taste the subtle differences. Incredibly, Garvey always gets that flavour right, so you will always get an incredible coffee flavour. He bases his coffee flavour on what he likes to drink. Most of his patrons would agree that he has good taste.

clock hmc.jpg

On a good day, and if you’re nice enough to Sisa, you will be able to buy chocolate croissants (pain au chocolat), hot out of the oven. If you’re mean, you may only be able to buy a normal croissant (which is delicious too, but if you know me, you know you can’t EVER beat chocolate…)

hand made coffee.jpg

Hand Made Coffees is a real character in Grahamstown, and it takes after the character that is Garvey. If you don’t like coffee, they offer hot chocolate too. If you still feel like being difficult, go to Hand Made Coffees just for the awesome company and interesting conversation – you might be inspired to travel the big cities of the world, or it may make you fall in love with Grahamstown and develop an even deeper fondness for small towns.

Darren clock hmc.jpg

Sisa the Barista

“I did a course and then I fell in love with this once I started go into roastary; the fragrance took me and I fell in love with everything about coffee.”

Sisa likes to experiment. These were a sample of a particularly interesting test involving mint and vanilla (among other secret things...)

Sisa likes to experiment. These were a sample of a particularly interesting test involving mint and vanilla (among other secret things…)

Three years ago, Sisa Mapetu started a journey that he probably never saw leading to a new life in Grahamstown. From initially working as a waiter, to potentially working for a logistics company, to ending up as the friendliest barista on our little campus in Grahamstown, his journey sounds like one of true love.

Since he did his barista course three years ago, Sisa has been developing his skills and competing in barrister competitions. The competitions involve demonstrating a thorough knowledge of coffee and its subtle flavours, as well as a demonstration of your coffee skills, requiring competitors to produce 12 espresso drinks in 15 minutes.

In his first attempt three years ago, Sisa placed second. He hopes to outperform everyone in next year’s competition by developing his signature drink early on, and ensuring he does not underestimate his competition, as he has done in the past. “I just have to know that everyone is a tough competitor, I have to respect that. The guys that are competing for the first time, I must treat them as the same level as me.” From an outsider’s perspective, his drive and enthusiasm for the coffee definitely make him winner material. We shall see what the July competition holds for him.

Sisa has filled in a wonderful niche on campus. Handmade Coffees is a great little shop, perfectly positioned, but Sisa really adds a wonderful element to the cosy nook. He is friendly, always welcoming passers by, and he really seems to connect with his regulars. His appreciation of the bean is contagious.

“What gets me about it is that there’s always something new comes out, something new motivating me.” Sisa likes to experiment with new flavours, which can be quite an experience for the testers. Mint with my coffee was definitely a first…

Another test turned out like a cookies and cream iced coffee - do you get any better?  That friendly smile, and that loving touch when working on his creations really makes him a truly super local Barista.

Another test turned out like a cookies and cream iced coffee – do you get any better?
That friendly smile, and that loving touch when working on his creations really makes him a truly super local Barista.

Sisa also likes to cook, experimenting with different food flavours as well. He hopes to open his own restaurant one day. “This barrister profession is opening a lot of doors for me to achieve that, because, especially in this company, there are a lot of opportunities where I can actually expand in future.”

“What actually motivates me more, is that every time I get to work at the machine, it’s just it’s just the fragrance just (chuckles) brings me into loving it.”

His favourite coffee drink: Espresso and Macchiato.

“Those are my best because I achieve what I want very quick into it because they are quite short and then they go straight where I want them. I get bored when I drink the cappuccinos and the lattes because I only drink them half and then I’ve achieved what I want but the espressos, the combination hits the spot.

The reason I like the espresso is because I understand every coffee that I make and how it must taste. So I’m looking for those flavours of the espresso in the coffee that I’m making. If you can perfect an espresso, then you can perfect any other drink.”

His view on latte art: It’s good.

“Latte art is good, it’s a lovely cherry on top. But when you get to understand the profession you get to know that the taste is more important. Latte art is good as there, but good coffee doesn’t need good latte art. You can make a good coffee without good latte art, but it’s there to grab the attention of the drinker.”

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

Mmmm Cookies

I once thought that chocolate chips have to be chocolate chip-shaped. Then I tried to pipe out my own using melted chocolate. This took so long that I came to realise that hey, chocolate is chocolate, and it’s shape is pretty irrelevant when it’s melted into deliciously chewy and soft choc chip cookies…

Crunchy chewy deliciousness

Crunchy chewy deliciousness

We don’t really have a wide range of chocolate chips on sale at the grocery stores here, so these chopped up bits of dark chocolate are ideal, and they taste far better than the fake-chocolate chips on offer. And hey, Cadbury’s Bournville is amazing, so why not?

Leave the cookies in their ball form and they will magically become flat

Leave the cookies in their ball form and they will magically become flat

Choc chip cookies go fantastically with cappuccinos by the way.

Biscuits and cappuccinos: should definitely be a staple diet for all human beings! And kittens too perhaps...

Biscuits and cappuccinos: should definitely be a staple diet for all human beings! And kittens too perhaps…

If you want a flatter biscuit, use more butter. The difference is only 10g though, so be careful!

More butter leads to a flatter biscuit

More butter leads to a flatter biscuit

Less butter means a better biscuit shape

Less butter means a better biscuit shape

Chewy Choc Chip Cookies

makes 15

  • 90g salted butter
  • 1 cup (250ml) castor sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 50g choc chips (or more chocolate is always a good idea too) (I chopped up a slab of Cadbury Bournville, not too dark, but richer in flavour than Dairy Milk)
  • 1 egg

 

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C, and line a baking tray
  2. Put castor sugar and cornflour into a mixing bowl
  3. Melt the butter and add to the sugar mixture, mixing it in
  4. Add the flour. Do this slowly, mixing as you add so the flour doesn’t go everywhere
  5. Add the coconut oil and egg, mixing all ingredients thoroughly
  6. Chuck in the chocolate and ensure even distribution throughout the mixture
  7. Make balls of dough about 3cm in diameter and space evenly on baking tray. Leave them as the are (don’t flatten), they will shape themselves
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes
  9. Best enjoyed fresh (still warm even!) and with the company of the cutest kittens
Pippin is curious... And he would probably eat it too, if I'd let him

Pippin is curious… And he would probably eat it too, if I’d let him

My new love… And it can come in chocolate too!

Arabica, Ethiopian Lima, robustness, chaff, crema… these were some of the words I became a little bit more familiar with today. A few simple words, that have inspired me to pursue the career of barista! Ok, not quite. I’ll probably never be a true coffee connoisseur, but I would really love to get there eventually!

Cuppaccinos and latte art

Cuppaccinos and latte art

I want to learn how to appreciate a good roast, and to be able to identify the different blends of international farms (except I don’t think that this is quite how it works – each farm produces it’s own kind, and you blend different farms together).

Beans being swirled around and cooled

Beans being swirled around and cooled

Basically, I want more coffee in my life. This is unusual for me because I only started drinking coffee last year. When I was much younger, I had my first cup of coffee. I loved it so much that I had two cups. That night I had a nightmare that there were giants falling from the sky onto and through the deck of my pirate ship which you gained access to from the office-block-style corridors. It was a horrible nightmare that has stuck with me for many years (over 16!) and so I never drank coffee again.

Ready for purchase, gotta get me some of that!

Ready for purchase, gotta get me some of that!

I reintroduced myself with a mature open-mindedness that has lead me to try a whole host of new foods (that you will hear about in the future, I am sure). I would say that the product that sold me to coffee was the Nescafé Cappuccino sachets: the foam gets me every time, especially when coupled with a crunchy biscotti!

My writing lecturer: Gillian Rennie

My writing lecturer: Gillian Rennie

Today was the start of a journey: Homeground Coffee Roasters showed us how they roast the beans from hard green beans to aromatic, warm, brown beans.

Coffee beans still

These are then ground to be used in the machines to produce top-quality espresso coffee, which we were lucky enough to get a taster of.

Ashley Brown, a fellow writing student, savouring that little cup of goodness

Ashley Brown, a fellow writing student, savouring that little cup of goodness

 I normally take my coffee with milk and one sugar, and a cappuccino comes with milk, but I do think that adding milk to this coffee possibly didn’t do the coffee justice: the milk of my cappuccino taster seemed to detract from the richness of the flavour, which was delicious, meeting the excellent standards that Homeground seeks to maintain.

Leo, Homeground's owner, serving up some of her top quality brew

Leo, Homeground’s owner, serving up some of her top quality brew

So, today marks the beginning of a long and close friendship between coffee and me. I know it’s going to be an intimate one with many regular encounters, and I am sure that if they are anything like today, they will be exceptional.