Roaster exchange with Espresso Labs Microroasters of Cape Town, South Africa
Picture, if you will, a man separated by thousands of miles from his family, his job, his friends and also separated from something truly important - his coffee!
Cape Town, South Africa is one of the most beautiful cities in the world (based on this author's opinion). Sprawling along the sandy and rocky coast of the Southern Atlantic Ocean and nuzzled up to majestic Table Mountain, Cape Town's cultural richness competes evenly with its geographical richness. If variety is the spice of life, then Cape Town is a multinational curry made of, well, everything. Hidden treasures, while not always easy to locate, are everywhere in this great city. From the block-long bazarre of middle-eastern and Asian food to the world renown vinyards of unimaginable beauty, Cape Town is as much a foodie haven as it is a surf paradise (large man-eating fish, notwithstanding).
Well settled in the Old Biscuit Mill market in the heart Cape Town's uber-trendy industrial Woodstock neighborhood one can find arguably the best coffee in South Africa. While this may not establish a compelling story in a country dominated by instant "coffee", the coffee served at Espresso Labs Microroasters is simply world class. An owner-operated establishment that at times cranks out 800 drinks during a 6-hour shift on Saturday mornings, Espresso Labs is the real deal for the most discerning of coffee snobs. As inviting as their coffee and super-chic atmosphere are, the real charm is the phenominally friendly and vivacious staff.
While I was on assignment in South Africa for 6 months, Renato, Helene, Jeremy and the rest of the staff at Espresso Labs really welcomed me and made me feel at home during my weekly Saturday sojourn to the Old Biscuit Mill. Nothing grounds me faster than great coffee and the craftsmen who are willing to discuss it. We discussed the subtelties of their coffees, their brew methods, things that worked and didn't work at Elemental in contrast to how they made it all happen in Woodstock. From where and how we source to how we roast and cup. During this period, we crafted the idea of doing an exchange once my assignment was up. Last week, we each sent each other a bag of espresso to run on our respective bars. It is with great pride and joy that we will be serving Espresso Labs ESP030 blend until it runs out. A blend of 50% Santa Terezinha, Brazil; 30% Don Mayo, Costa Rica and 20% Wottuna Boltuma, Ethiopia the shots are pulling huge milk chocolate with juicy citrus up front and a complex but compelling finish. Great in or out of milk!
Baie dankie Espresso Labs!