A city full of beans

2011-06-17 15:20

It’s barely 8am and already Amanda Didiza is outside Coffee Zone on Mostert Street sipping her now cold cup of coffee.

For Didiza, this is an essential everyday ritual – otherwise she’ll have a “crappy day” at work.

For the next three days there are the same faces: the construction workers in their orange ­overalls, two old women who have made a little table in the corner their meeting spot, and a group of young students who are always dressed like it’s the middle of ­summer in shorts and cropped jackets.

Within sneezing distance of ­Coffee Zone are seven other coffee shops on Spin and Plein streets, in the central business district of the Mother City.

None of these shops is quiet as there are many companies, as well as ­Parliament, that provide them with plenty of customers.

“It might look like the market is saturated, but we all have many customers walking in at any given time,” says Michael Knipe, who owns the quaint Bread, Milk and Honey on Spin Street.

Outside his shop, the sweet smells of cinnamon, freshly baked scones and savoury confectionaries pull in passers-by.

Once there, they’re instantly trapped by the warmth – Cape Town winters are often wet, windy and cold – and the delicious ­aromas of the best blends from all over the world, which Knipe says he stocks from one of the city’s most noted coffee ­brokers.

“I’ve been in business for three years and, since then, we went from selling 20 cups a day to more than 300. People here really love their coffee,” adds Knipe.

A few doors down is an unassuming coffee restaurant called 6?Spin Street, which is part of an old building that houses Cape Town’s Democracy Centre and a bookstore.

“Chilling at a coffee shop is a trendy thing to do here. I remember when the first Vida e Caffe launched in Cape Town, all the local Who’s Who wanted to be seen there. Some of them would spend an entire day there; you’d wonder if they had jobs,” comments 6 Spin Street’s Robert Mulders.

He attributes the rise of the coffee culture to the fact that there are now many people ­living and working in the CBD.

“The city has become a fashionable place to live again. It is very safe and people feel relaxed here, unlike in other towns.

It’s not ­every city where you can just sit outside on the pavement, have a cup of coffee and read a book,” he adds.

“Coffee shops have become social spaces for people to meet. I know wine is the big thing in Cape Town but coffee is much trendier, otherwise we’d have wine bars ­instead of coffee shops on the pavements,” adds Mulders.

The popularity of coffee shops has encouraged the creation of the yearly Cape Coffee Route, which takes place in May.
“The event highlights the coffee shop culture so prevalent in the Mother City,” explains Cape Gourmet Festival Director Christine Cashmore.

“It encourages people who live and work in the city as well as the visitors to revel in the delights on offer at the myriad coffee bars and sidewalk cafés,” she adds.

The next time you meander off to Cape Town, ditch the typical and treat yourself to a serious high by sampling the various blends that have converged in the CBD’s coffee spots.

Added bonus? It’s the trendy thing to do.

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