Visiting a new city generally involves some form of coffee marathon; zipping about town fuelled on caffeine and getting a sense of what the scene is all about.
Four days based in Cape Town and only five cafes to speak of is a piss-poor effort, for us, but when there’s so much scenic beauty around the city, wafting about cafes the entire time would have been a bit of a waste.
Merely scratching the surface gave the impression that Cape Town is a place that takes its coffee seriously. Micro-roasters, designer fit-outs and top-notch, locally-roasted beans used by restaurants. It seems they’ve got a taste of the good stuff.
Here are five places that definitely make the cut in a town that’s teeming quality coffee.
There are two outlets in town, but the one down on Buitenkant Street is a feast for the eyes. Truth Coffee Roasting HQ. I’m rarely one for anything that’s themed, but here the highly contrived industrial-steampunk thing is done to a tee. A damn marvellous fit-out, even down to the steampunk goggles donned by some of the floor staff.
On the first visit – yes there were two – we asked for a coffee that wasn’t on the menu. A single shot of espresso in a small espresso cup, topped with textured milk – or microfoam. The super-friendly guy had never heard of piccolo latté, so the coffee-to-milk ratio needed explaining. Two flat whites came out in regular cups.
Second visit wasn’t as milky as the first. The barista nailed it, thanks to the waitress knowing what we were on about. Fussy Australians, we are.
Aside from the second round of perfect coffees, the breakfast was what got us in again. There’s nothing ground-breaking about the offerings – all the usual suspects like French toast, porridge and a bunch of egg dishes.
Steampunk Benedict (70) is one of the house signatures – toasted sourdough, poached eggs, hollandaise, bacon and tomato. Not bad.
The BLT Truth style (65) speaks the same language as a club sandwich, as you can see below, so no need for explanations. It is a sandwich, after all.
Gentrification has clearly taken a firm grip on Woodstock, a gritty area very close to town that has designers moving in, and people that can’t afford to pay the rent out. The design-conscious Old Biscuit Mill is now a precinct that services locals and tourists with their shopping and eating needs; a former factory with a very new ideal.
Located opposite the casually-swanky Test Kitchen restaurant is EspressoLab Microroasters, a petite, starkly white space that feels like a walk-in chemistry lab – sans the chemicals.
Even the stencilled coffee menu on the glazed white tile wall takes its cues from the elementary table, labelling its coffees to the likes of ²¹Es for espresso or ²³Ca for a cappuccino. Yes, it’s a spot to come for a coffee or work meeting, but it’s a fully-functioning roastery complete with Diedrich IR-7 roaster that means business.
As for the ²³Co we sampled, it was pretty bang-on.
Oh, sorry, don’t you know? That means cortado.
From gentrified Woodstock to high-brow Sea Point – home to those that can afford one of the hillside mansions or apartments with water views. Also home to a very decent bunch of restaurants and cafe’s.
We were en route to Cape Point, so a quick pit stop at Bootlegger had to happen. This is another place that roasts it’s own beans onsite. There’s a bit of a designer-vintage vibe about the space and it’s clearly very popular with local workers talking business.
If coffee isn’t enough, there’s a decent selection of booze, as well standard cafe-style food. We can vouch for the cortado here, as well.
Back in industrial Woodstock, another pit stop that’s worth taking is at Superette, in the Woodstock Exchange building. It’s all about subways tiles, glass beakers, blonde wood and pops of yellow.
Both the breakfast and lunch menus sound great, with things like braised short rib or pork belly sandwiches and kippers on toast. All sounds good to me, but we only did the coffee thing. Nice touch that you can choose between two roasters – Deluxe Coffee Works and Rosetta.
Speaking of Rosetta, this is a place that we spotted when Superette was closed for a private function. Also located in the Woodstock Exchange design hub, Rosetta Roastery does just that – roast their own beans – and I’ve got to say, it was the best coffee we had in Cape Town.
A deep, rich bean with lingering goodness. And what we call a piccolo latté, Rosetta calls a 1:2.