Irrespective of which city or town you reside in, there are always those interesting, little places, slightly tucked away, that whenever you pass them by, you find yourself enviously peering inside, meaning to go in sometime.
Yet, months go by and you still haven’t even passed over their threshold…
Up until last Friday – when I finally stepped inside with my friends for a few scattered moments – The Blend, found at 79 Roeland Street in the Mother City’s ever-busy CBD, was one such place for me, as for over a year I have reluctantly passed on by it.
My fascination with the place really began with seeing their quirky, yet humourous signs propped outside in the street but the attraction of the place ran far deeper than all that (though I still love the signs – especially the ‘Coffeeology’ one inside the cafe near the till), given that I am unashamedly a true coffee lover and the promise of a good, strong brew in a charming-looking new spot is always going to be an attractive prospect for one such as I.
Their ‘coffee bar’ section is my primary interest but they also offer a variety of breakfast, brunch and lunch selections, which include: various healthy or light breakfasts, gourmet sandwiches, smoothies/iced drinks, pressed juices, burgers/wraps and salads.
Divine chocolate brownies (I’ll discuss these later on) and fresh muffins are also available from the display cabinet. They also have an open fridge selling health foods and drinks, as well as a few other smaller ones offering Energy and standard cold drinks.
All of The Blend’s offerings are produced locally – either internally or externally – and according to their chic, colourful menus, all of their coffee blends are prepared by local roasters and change with the times, as they believe in offering, “different varieties at different times,” as well as following the old S.A. adage of, “Local is Lekker.”
Another thing that seems to be important at The Blend is serving products that are as fresh and health-conscious as possible.
Perhaps this is why their prices for certain products seem a touch high – but, having said that, I firmly believe that whatever you buy at The Blend will be of the highest quality and well-worth it as a result.
I also hasten to add that they have given kind thought to relatively cash-strapped students like myself who frequent this part of the city with three of the most popular coffee options (namely, the latte, americano and cappuccino) available to us at a discounted price.
If you are a student, you receive 10% off on the aforementioned – just be sure to have your student card on hand!
(Side-note: Their gourmet sandwiches look absolutely amazing!)
Now, upon entering The Blend, I have to confess I was instantly enchanted by the place and I got the sense that, although I have seen numerous cafes since I’ve been living in Cape Town, this one is something special.
This week, I got the chance to test that theory and I’m pleased to say not only did my sit-down visit to The Blend confirm my belief, but it furthered it too.
You have the option of takeaway or sit-down for mostly everything, I assume but unless you are in a serious hurry, I strongly recommend your opting for sit-down – especially if it is your first true visit to The Blend.
Only then can you experience the full, almost antiquated charm of this lovely cafe.
Everything from the signage (which seems intent on either kick-starting your good mood or bolstering a positive outlook on daily life) to the new, slightly more spacious layout and colour scheme they have recently switched to feels quietly warm and welcoming.
It’s as if it has all been carefully engineered to bring a smile to your face as you tuck into your breakfast or order your mocha.
Largely flowering potplants are propped atop virtually every free space and in the furtherest corner, you find white clothes hangers bearing popular magazines and cute wooden crates overflowing with all kinds of old books and boardgames, left there as much for decoration as for your enjoyment.
If you prefer to entertain yourself with an electronic device or smart phone, then their free Wi-Fi has got you covered too.
(When I visited this week, I had to ask for the password twice, as it had recently changed for the day but that was no big issue – it’s just a matter of ‘ask and thee shall receive’. 🙂 )
Alternatively, you can browse through the daily newspaper or the selection of flyers promoting up-and-coming local events left nearest the front window, where the bar stool type seating is.
The tables and chairs are sturdy, surprisingly comfy (and marked with a ‘B’) and blissfully noiseless – something I was extremely pleased to discover as few things irk me more than chair legs gratingly scrapping across the floor of a public space whilst you are trying to chat or unwind.
On my first true visit to The Blend, my friend treated me to a latte and a chocolate brownie, which we shared (something we were both glad about afterwards, as it was very rich and pretty filling as a result!)
The latte, which costs R20, was visually attractive, as, at least before I stirred it, it had beautiful, tri-coloured layers and had a great coffee flavour – and just the right amount of creamy foaminess to cap it all off!
For me, it was quite sweet, thus, I only added one large-ish teaspoon of brown sugar (I also adored their chunky sugar ‘jar’) and as my friend’s cappuccino (she says the same rating is applicable to both the takeaway and sitdown cappuccino) received from her, I can easily give it an 8/10.
My friend’s cappuccino (R18) looked good too and she enjoyed it. (We also both loved the old-fashioned cup and saucer it was served in)
Now, for the (it is served chilled to keep it as fresh as possible as it is sourced from Dolce Bakery… I will try to stop by and check out their other goodies sometime so watch this space!) unadulterated chocolate Lindt and almond brownie (R25).
To say it was the best chocolate brownie I have ever had may be an understatement – it might just be one of the best sweet treats I have ever had period.
It was a decent size and when I popped the first forkful into my mouth, I momentarily froze in silent appreciation of its supreme chocolateness. (Though the top layer was surprisingly thin to all appearances)
My friend jokingly said, “I want it to live in my mouth!” and I think that’s probably the most fitting way to phrase it. Simply put – our tastebuds were taken wholly captive and it was fifteen minutes of gastronomic nirvana as we enjoyed our much-needed caffeine fixes with this healthy dose of pure, happiness-inducing chocolate.
I would give the Dolce Bakery Lindt brownie a 9/10 if I had to rate it – the only reason I won’t give it a 10/10 is, if it had been any more perfect, I might just have been the first person to suffer a ‘death by chocolate’ kind of fate.
Not only were our drinks and sweet accompaniment seriously good but the overall ambience of the place was decidedly lovely and relaxed (even the background music is quietly soothing and unobtrusive) and the waitrons (and either female manager – or owner – I’m not too sure which) were friendly and nice.
We killed quite a bit of time in the cafe and I really liked the fact that the waitrons checked up on us once they thought we were finished as oppose to midway through and only came to clear the plates and ask if we needed anything else once we seemed to be discussing less serious or private topics.
Another great thing was our orders were literally received a minute or two after we had placed and paid for them.
This is speedy service at its best and especially for busy CBD-based workers, students or even tourists is an extremely priceless boon.
It may have happened this way purely by chance but either way, it made for a welcome change. It’s nice to think you can have a heart-to-heart with a loved one or be left to your own thoughts and devices in a public sphere.
Another thing I really liked was the ‘business card column’, (as I refer to it) which is near the front desk and which is literally covered from head to toe with (presumably) local business cards left there by former visitors. I like to think it will help others to build on their careers and dreams… And the so-called ‘organised chaos’ of the column provides a great focal point and adds eve more character to The Blend – not that it’s short of that, mind!
Overall, I would give The Blend a firm 8/10 for the following: tasty quality goods, speedy and amiable service, a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere, a spacious, yet still cosy interior with characteristically quaint and humourous uplifting/eye-catching signage and finally, an obvious and loving attention to details.
The Blend is open from 7:00 a.m. to 16:00 p.m. during the ‘working week’ (Mondays to Fridays) and from 8:00 a.m. to 14:00 p.m. on Saturdays.
You can find them for yourself at 79 Roeland Street, Cape Town or alternatively contact them using the following means:
(Telephonically) +27 (073) 831 0547
(Also do check out their boards for their latest specials!)
You can also find and follow them on social media.
Facebook Page: ‘The Blend’
Many thanks to The Blend and to my good friend and fellow budding writer, Aaqeelah Floris for all additional info. and opinions used in this post.
(If you would like to check out some of Aaqeelah’s wonderful writing, please hit: http://aaqeelahfloris.wordpress.com.)
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