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Scroll down the list below for articles of interest to the coffee enthusiast

There are certainly some benefits to picking up your early morning coffee at a drive-through. This said, is this what you want from your coffee?

When I fantasize about my dream cup of coffee, I see a lovely coffee shop, beautifully laid out with love and care. I see lots of shiny equipment and a professional barista practicing his skills with enthusiasm in front of his glistening espresso machine. I hear the grinder. I can see a little steam as he pulls the shot, his face a picture of concentration as he froths and pours the perfectly prepared satin-like milk and proudly places his finished product in front of me. Now that is what I call coffee!

We are quite spoiled in East London. Despite being a relatively small town, we have four of our own local roasters who are all able to supply the local coffee shops and restaurants with freshly roasted coffee. Many of our local coffee shops compare with the best available in other major centres. Enjoy a warm and embracing ambiance combined with efficient service and a tempting array of locally baked cakes and light snacks.

“Taking the slow lane…” A series of articles written for the Border Kei Chamber of Business magazine call The Hilite” in East London.

Taking the Slow Lane

                         … a highly recommended option

Supporting local business   

Whether it’s a suburban coffee shop, a restaurant or a butcher, we encourage you to support local business. I am sure that I speak for every local entrepreneur, whether it’s a business to business opportunity or a once off, all we want is to be given a chance, a chance to dazzle you.

Yes, the national chains also employ local staff but where do the profits go and where are the surplus funds invested? Many so called South African businesses have significant off-shore shareholding and/or are obligated to pay huge international royalties and franchise fees - money lost not only to your own city or Province but also to South Africa. I mean, really, why do we buy roasted coffee from Belgium, Italy Switzerland or Germany? These countries DO NOT grow coffee, they source their beans from the equatorial belt as we do, ship to Europe, roast, pack and ship the now somewhat staler beans to our supermarkets. When it comes to coffee, please support your locally owned coffee shop first; your local roaster and any brand which is proudly and wholly owned South African. By doing so, you will be contributing that little extra to our ailing economy.

How much do you want to pay?

The input costs of superior raw beans can be as much as four times that of the cheaper varietals. This creates a dilemma for a roaster and, as with any form of production, he has to decide what the market wants and what the market is prepared to pay. We’re used to paying upwards of R20 for a sit-down coffee in a restaurant but what about the quality and cost of one’s home brew?

Caveat emptor is a Latin term oft used by marketers which means “let the buyer be aware.” This came to mind the other day when I walked past a display of coffee beans in a nearby supermarket where I noticed a significant price variation between the various brands. Pure coffee, in 250g packs, varied significantly in price from a little under R40 to as much as R69. How can this be?

As a general rule when it comes to coffee, not to mention most things in life, you get what you pay for. Retailers will usually apply the same percentage mark-up on all products. If one assumes that most coffee roasters will experience similar production costs and require similar operating margins, it can be reasonable to assume that the primary reason for the considerable price differences come down to the quality of the green bean. The three keys to preparing good coffee at home are (a) sourcing good coffee (b) freshness (c) the preparation process.

 “Coffee is a lot like life, we should never waste a drop.”