Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting a coffee shop that has been on my list (in Cape Town, you need a list with all the places that keep temptingly mushrooming into existence) for a while: Bean There Coffee Roastery, officially launched in 2011 (though it also has Braamfontein and Milpark roasteries among its ranks).
It is quite easily noticeable from the road when you enter Wale Street because of its compact white exterior and also, its cheery, lemon yellow outdoor seating, which certainly catches your eye as you pass by on the ever-bustling city streets. The gold, curvy ‘Bean There – Fair Trade Coffee’ signs on the café’s shop-front windows, as well as the outside street sign that reads ‘Coffee gives you wings’, are similarly, nice, external touches.
Inside, there is limited seating and it is always pretty busy (even on a blue Monday, though perhaps the moody, grey weather promoted more of a mid-afternoon coffee rush than usual) and my friend and I did have to hover for a moment by the door as we waited for a suitable table for two but there was a lot to take in, what with the knic-a-brics (dairy cows, birds and other fun porcelain items) and colourful interior, which consists of quirky lampshades (my friend pointed out that one was even a matche for the awesome plush sofa), cushions and the like.
There’s also a bicycle hanging behind the counter area and more than a few coffee-related items, including felt coffee sacks (with organic coffee beans for you to look at if you’re interested) lounging around the shop’s interior, coffee-making equipment and also the nicely packaged percolated coffee, which you can purchase, and finally, some beautiful nature- and human-portraits framed and mounted neatly on the back walls. I couldn’t help admiring these later – and they bear a special significance, which is connected to Bean There’s rich African ties, which I will touch on further in. 🙂
I know every coffee shop should smell divine but the coffee bean’s strong, delicious organic aroma really hits you as you pass inside Bean There – something I instantly commented as we crossed over its threshold.
The window seating comes with small side tables and looks very comfy, especially if you want to use a laptop or have a more relaxed cuppa but we opted for the standard tables and chairs. These tables are made of a sturdy, old-fashioned looking wood, which add to the overall charm of the place, with white chairs suitable for that proper sit-down coffee experience.
Music plays unobtrusively in the background and even when Bean There is at its busiest (the few staff members were almost constantly brewing coffee during our visit, either for the sit-down customers or instant take-aways), one is still able to converse nicely without feeling required to raise your voice to be heard.
One important thing to mention is that you should place your order before taking a seat, as it is loosely self-service, though order are brought to your table. Ours arrived very quickly, despite the place being busy so service is good. 🙂
Another lovely touch are the vases of pretty pale pink chrysanthemum flowers on each table and adorable, vintage silver sugar holders, which brighten up the place, making it feel a touch more intimate.
We ordered Bean There’s Latte (R22), which was presented in a pretty sizeable cup and saucer, with the foam customarily stencilled for a neat finish. Honestly, after the first sip, there was no going back – for, aside from the dreamy aroma, this is some seriously good coffee; mine gets a very well-deserved 9/10 rating.
To give some background, Bean There has the honour of being South Africa’s first Certified Fairtrade Coffee roaster and according to their website, strives to “make a sustainable difference in the lives of African coffee producers by personally sourcing quality coffee through direct fair trade. Bean There’s single origin coffee is optimally roasted in South Africa and sustains people today and the earth tomorrow.”
Fair trade, as explained further on their site, means that, in exchange for production, producers receive fair pay for their coffee, no matter how the market fluctuates. This, in turn, aids “community development, empowerment and sustainability.”
Their coffee beans are from one country and region (so they’re not blended or mixed with any other) and provide “single, unblended coffee beans” that have ‘optimal roast’, meaning that the roasting reaches the point at which the beans have reached their most delicious and full “aroma, body, acidity and flavour.”
Staying true to both the artistry of good coffee brewing and roasting, as well as the African spirit, Bean There’s sources are from some of Africa’s most exclusive coffee-producing (and tested) regions on the continent:
- DR Congo
(Read more about each of these places and their unique, organic blends; there are some powerful human- and sustainability- stories behind each of these, as well as some wonderful imagery.)
Above all though, Bean There wishes for you to “know a country through its coffee,” and in many ways, this is a wondrous sensory travel experience and education all wrapped up in one!
There is also a special carefully selected and rare micro-lot coffee, ‘Olga’s Reserve’, dedicated to the memory of Olga ‘Polly’ Robinson, grandmother to Bean There’s founders, Jonathan and Sarah, who first introduced the pair to coffee.
Aside from running an organised and fascinatingly enlightening website, Bean There also has an online shop, which offers:
- Home brewing equipment
- Expresso machines
- Filter equipment
- T-shirts and other apparel
All in and all, Bean There offers one an all-round coffee experience and caters to every coffee lover’s needs, whether it’s about grabbing a take-away on your daily coffee run or preparing an exotic organic blend at home.
The Cape Town coffee shop and roastery itself is a great place to enjoy a superb cup of well-priced good, strong coffee in a lovely corner of Cape Town, as it temporarily removes you from the hustle and bustle of the city life outside – and for this and other reasons, Bean There gets a firm 9/10 overall rating from me… I’m pleased to say I’ve Bean There and done that.
Bean There is open Monday to Friday from 07:30 a.m. to 16:00 p.m. Please note: It is closed on weekends and public holidays.
For more information, please contact them on: (087) 943 2228 (Cape Town) or see their website. Additionally, you can visit them for yourself at: 58 Wale Street, Cape Town or follow them on social media using the following:
Facebook: Bean There Coffee