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.


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