Friday, May 11, 2012

Coffee with soul

I may just have found the coffee place in Jo’burg in 44 Stanley’s Bean There Coffee Company. Not only is the (organic!) coffee amazing, the atmosphere chilled yet upmarket and the staff fantastic, but the company’s Fairtrade soul is inspiring.

Sipping my super tasty cappuccino (perfect foam I might add), with the sounds and aromas of the bustling Bean There Coffee Company roastery in the background, I chatted to founder and owner Jonathan Robinson.

“I’ve always loved coffee and was introduced to it at an early age. I discovered the fairtrade concept and loved the fact that you could have a business doing what you loved, while making a positive impact in the lives of coffee producers,’ says Jonathan. He decided to give his coffee dream a bash and the Johannesburg roastery was born. Six years on, the company has just opened a roastery in Cape Town, is selling coffee through select niche retailers (like William Nicol Pick n’ Pay) and going strong.

The coffee is roasted in the shop

“We took the fairtrade model one step further. I source all the coffees myself, travelling to find coffee-producing communities that we can have direct relationships with,” he explains. ‘Fairtrade’ means that farmers are paid a fair price for their goods and the company subscribes to the Fairtrade label (undergoing stringent auditing and tracking of the coffee to the original producers).

Bean There also works with an independent organisation to increase cooperative farmers’ yields through training. Producing only single origin African coffee, it sources from cooperatives in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi. 

“Naysayers said, ‘You’ll never make a business from selling single origin African coffee - South Africans wont drink it.’ But that’s changing – people are getting more excited about it,” he smiles.

I asked him if fair trade is growing in SA. “It definitely is,” he answers. “When we started no one knew what it was, or confused it with freetrade – it was a constant uphill battle. Since then I’ve definitely seen a change and we’re especially noticing it now because competition between us and other so-called fair trade competitors is growing. However, this is ultimately good for the farmers. At the moment, we’re still the only roaster of fairtrade certified coffee in South Africa, but that won’t be for long,” he predicts.

Bean There is tucked in the corner of 44 Stanley, just after the book shop and next to the gallery.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sunday, city vibes

Feeling adventurous and looking for something different to do on Sunday morning? Head to the oh-so-chilled Arts on Main market (The Maboneng Precinct), just off the top end of Market Street east of Jo’burg CBD. This unpretentious, fresh food and craft market (open every Sunday, 10am- 3pm)heats up by 11am, so get there beforehand if you want to avoid the crowds.

As you walk into what looks like a massive converted garage, fresh food stalls interspersed with quirky crafts greet you. There’s raw chocolate, macaroons, the most fabulous brownies, deli delights, spices, cheese stalls, besides many more. The food on offer is truly cosmopolitan with Indian, Jamacan, Ethiopian, Chinese and even Cuban stalls vying for the experimental market-dweller. My friend and I tried an Ethiopian dish (which you’re meant to eat with your hands) and it was surprisingly good.
The calm before the storm

As you head out, passing a local clothing and décor shop (also open during the week) you’ll enter a courtyard framed by a restaurant, a photo exhibition room (usually with a specific theme for a certain period) and a locally-based internationally renowned artist’s studio and shop.

On Sundays, picnic blankets are spread beneath the courtyard’s olive and lemon trees with baskets of yummy delicacies provided, I presume, by the restaurant. Cocktails are available and you can sit under gazebos with your brunch (if you’re lucky to grab a seat). The vibe is chilled, with hipsters and hippies and the regular folk too, lol

Ascend the metal staircase descending to the courtyard and you’ll enter the Goodman Gallery projects exhibition. The paintings and photos are fantastic. Here’s a peak:

Enter the doorway (on the right of the photo above) and a craft and design market awaits, with indie music wafting over the busy buzz. Material banners suspended from the ceiling announce the stalls including vintage clothing, leather creations, coffee beans and local jewellery designs. A divine, if somewhat touristy, craft shop is at the back and a photo exhibition tucked in the side.

One more thing … ascend the steps to the left of the restaurant and you’ll find the coolest outdoor bar – with perfect nooks and crannies where you can have your lunch and people-watch.

There's also a night market on the first Thursday of every month from 7pm – 11pm.

Take the Mooi street offramp off the M2, head into town and turn right at Market Street, hugging the road right. Follow the signs to ‘Arts on Main.’ (You’ll have to go up a couple of streets, turn right and then take the first right into Main … pass the Bioscope and drive straight till the end of the street, under the highway. It’ll be on your left. There’s abundant, seemingly safe parking right below the flyover.