The Bean Green Coffee Company, best coffee in South Africa

Battle of the Baristas

It seemed very relaxed as we walked in to the Factory. A meeting of friends, a couple of beers after work on an average Friday. If you looked closer though, there was tapping on the bottles, a little bit of nervous laughter and over-caffeinated chatter in expectation of the coming festivities.

The Glen(n)’s  from Blackwood Baristi Blog organised a Latte Art Barista Jam at Colombo Tea and Coffee Company’s Factory Cafe. The coffee culture in Durbs is growing all the time and events like this only fuel the growing interest in the chemistry and passion behind making the perfect cup. If we’re honest, latte art is the Barista’s way of showing off. And man,  do they know how to show off!

Although it may seem like a lot of hot milk, there really is a lot of skill involved in this process. The only way the barista can make something beautiful happen is complete composure under pressure, honing all their training and experience to produce at least one cup worthy of competition. Rich crema on your espresso is integral to ensure definition and contrast in your art. The milk has to be perfectly micro-textured so it can be manipulated by the wave of the wrist, creating a smooth, glossy canvas. Oh and did I mention a steady hand with 50 plus people watching?

The rules were simple. All the competitors used the same beans, provided by our hosts.  Everyone got 5 minutes to set their grind and mentally prepare themselves, then 5 minutes to produce art worthy of winning them the R500 pot and the respect of their peers.

The Bean Green was proud to have both Nkosi and Rory taking part. An overwhelming amount of support turned out for our boys. At one point Glen, MC for the night, announced something along the lines of, “Anyone who’s been shouted at by Peter Winter in the Bean Green, give us a cheer. “ It was the loudest cheer of the evening. That’s my dad, infamous J

It was a tight competition with all the coffee professionals showing us just how passion creates beauty. In the end, the best was saved for last, Sipho, entered as an independent barista pulled the rug out from under the rest with a beautiful three tiered Tulip. Who were his closest competition? Nkosi (a Rosetta and Tulip combo), Rory (boasting the only Swan design of the evening) and Travis(National Barista Champion 2011, no less). Bean Green domination 🙂

Yours in coffee and vinyl

The Way of the Future

Technology. It is the way of the future. Scratch that. It is the present. Except for inside The Bean Green bubble. Here vinyl is king and the roaster is a red tank engine. The most hi-tech piece of machinery is our La Marzocco espresso machine, and that’s the way we like it.

People read the newspaper here and do the crossword and drink coffee. We have to manually flip the record every 20 minutes and source stylus’ from the 1970’s that come in aged plastic casings, but it’s all worth it for the crackle before the music. My dad is still rocking a moustache. We have a cash register that opens and locks but doesn’t print receipts. Our couches have that worn in feeling that only years can affect. It’s a time warp.

Then something started happening.

“Do you have a plug point I can steal some electricity from?”

Technology slid sneakily in the door and it intrigued us. What could they be doing on this little box? They sit transported to another realm with their feet planted firmly in our beans, caffeine fuelling their online adventures. Curiosity got the better of me. Could the Bean Green be part of this world? Could we make the bold steps into new territory; the land of Google, where Twittering whistles through the pages of Facebook. It is scary. We started slow. A counter for people working.

“Do you guys have WiFi here?”

The question lingered. Then I made a decision. I got it into my head that I had to have a box of my very own. For the business, obviously. But what good is a laptop without the inter-web. So I started to suggest it to my father. It would bring in new business, all our regulars would be grateful. We could respond to emails more efficiently. My dad could check the latest updates on Man City. Everyone wins. It took longer than expected to convince him of all the positive effects. But I wore him down eventually. And the technology was all around us.

“What’s your website address?”

My shame at our lack of web presence grew each time the question fell from the lips of a smart phone-holding, Macbook-wielding cool kid, fingers ready to type us in to their Google machine. Oh the shame! Enough! I thought. This is an unnecessary burden to bear. So I got connected to the team at Hello Square and here we are, all technological and living in the present. It feels good.

Just don’t ask us to get a credit card machine. Some things here will always remain.

 

Welcome

This is a family business. We exist in a space of equal parts crazy and wonderful. It is not always an easy work environment. But it has some kind of magic.

My dad and I are similar in many ways. We both have self-proclaimed great taste in music, we both have a good sense of humour, but if you ask any of our customers, the most strikingly similar characteristic is our flammable temper. It gets heated and not always because our Has Garanti roaster is fired up, if you know what I mean. We don’t have that yin and yang sort of partnership going, rather its like fuel on the fire. By some remarkable stroke of inexplicable wonder in the universe, people seem to be attracted to this fire and the aromatic smoke of our coffee.

The Queen Bees and The Morning Mafia have found a place here. The Hippies and The Surfers. The Academics and The Students. The Architects and The Lawyers. The Doctors and The Teachers. Our community. Our friends. All drawn together by the thread of excellent coffee and good old-fashioned home.

We know when one climbs a mountain. Or when there’s a special new addition to the fold. Or when they reach milestones and achieve great things. We know when one has made their final visit. They know when I’m having a bad day (not difficult to miss) or when my dad is grumpy (rare, he’ll tell you) or when we are letting our tempers loose.

Most importantly, we know how they like their coffee. They keep coming back. This is our home. You are most welcome.

Caffeine awaits.