As a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur (read snob), I was excited when I saw the advert for “Coffee at The Club”. For those of you not local to Pretoria and surrounds, The Club is the new kid on the block and the venue everyone is hyping about. I’ve been there a couple of times before (damn you Beluga and your sushi specials), and was pretty excited about this event (held 23-24 August).
Okay, so there weren’t a lot of coffee exhibitions. But that is to be expected I guess. The Club, being quite a new venue, is still in its infancy stage, where growth comes in leaps and bounds. Maybe it was a case of not enough coffee roasters showing interest, maybe the public didn’t express enough interest, or maybe it was a combination of a few things. My point is though, that if we as caring consumers want more things like this to happen, the ball is in our court. Organisers of events like these are hamstrung if there is not enough EXPRESSED public interest. You can’t bank roll implied interest folks. So tweet the people at The Club and tell them you’re interested in events like these 😉 and then show up.
Also feel free to keep your eyes and ears peeled and check back to Audaciously from time to time (we try to be on top of current events – join our newsletter and we will let you know if something like this is happening).
Time for the actual coffee:
We started by just walking around, eyeing all the stands from afar to see what exactly was going on.
Having seen what was to offer, we headed to Happy Me, where my lady ordered some sort of berry/coffee/bubble tea concoction. If you are into stuff like that, pop over to Happy Me. They have a very nice setup with a “make your own lunch” service, and a lot of bubble tea variations. Bubble tea – what will they think of next hey?
After that, it was of to the races. I skipped the Saeco stand (no offence guys, the commercial machines just don’t attract me, I can get coffee like that at the office).
So my attention kind of centered on the Kopi Luwak SA stand.
Kopi Luwak SA
Now, you might have heard of the derogatory term “crap coffee” being used to describe this coffee. Needless to say, there is a pretty weird story behind it. So what happens is this: Dutch settlers planted coffee in Indonesia, enjoying the great climate and Terroir which is perfect for growing these caffeine-infused beans. The local workers were not entitled to take any of the coffee that they helped the settlers cultivate. Supposedly, however, in the forests of Indonesia wild Asian Civets cherry picked the best coffee cherries (see what I did there?), chewing them for the fleshy pulp. This is one of the main selling points of Kopi Luwak – as “only the best” beans get picked by the very snobby (?) civets that supposedly results in the “quality in, quality out” principle. The coffee bean as we know it gets swallowed and starts a fermentation process in the digestive tract of the civet. Then science takes over and stomach enzymes break down certain peptide chains in the bean. The result is supposed to be less acidic and very smooth. And then to recover the bean, well you can guess the rest… Anyway, so the workers used to filter through the necessary civet left-overs in order to gain access to the coffee beans they were kept from harvesting, and lo and behold, the coffee made from these beans were excellent. The settlers soon caught up with what was going on, and realised that the coffee which the locals drink is in many ways actually better than the stuff that they produce, and Kopi Luwak was born.
I suppose the truth is in the taste right? And how was it, you may ask? Well, it was okay, make no mistake. Little bitterness or acidity. Smooth coffee, decent aftertaste. Nothing that makes it come alive though, no joy. And the taste does not warrant the price, in my honest opinion. My personal opinion is that it is a bit of a gimmick. And the ethics behind some of the “wild” farming techniques are questionable at best. I can however now say that I did it, I tasted Kopi Luwak coffee. Next on my coffee bucket list is Black Ivory Coffee but that’s a story for another day. Keep in mind though, that this is only my opinion and many people praise Kopi Luwak for the unique – in their minds – tastes and texture. For an excellent (though pricey) gift idea for a coffee fanatic in your circle of friends try this Kopi Luwak SA gift set (available from Kopi Luwak SA):
For Kopi Luwak coffee beans, give Justin over at Kopi Luwak SA a shout. Tell him I sent you (I don’t get anything from this, but maybe it’ll make him less mad at me for saying his coffee isn’t worth the price haha). I guess the story of Kopi Luwak coffee is somewhat similar to that of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. No whisky drinker in his right mind would call Blue Label the best in its price class, or even the best in the Johnnie Walker family. But, there is an element of exclusivity attached to drinking it, as it is blended using very rare whiskys. You feel like you are celebrating “more” somehow when drinking something so expensive. It’s also at the perfect price point for the general middle to upper class populace. You won’t necessarily spend R20 000 on a 25yo Glenfiddich to impress your friends, but you can easily drop R2500 to make an impression. And with Kopi Luwak, it’s the same. Limited in supply. Expensive. Exclusive. It has all the boxes ticked for coffee bragging rights. It truly is very unique and it features on the movie “The bucket list”. So if that’s your aim, jump right in.
Next on my list was Roast Republic. Now these guys have a very noble business model – coffee with a conscience. They have partnered with World Vision International in order to support education-minded initiatives in rural South Africa. You help the case by buying coffee – neat right? So, is their coffee any good? Might I add that I just tasted the supposed holy grail of coffee before this, and I have to say, their coffee is excellent. A nice blend of Tanzanian, Guatemalan and Indonesian beans, medium roast, made pour-over style. Jaco was very friendly, chatting to me about the coffee and their process, and really showed their passion for the bean. And for that and their unique business model, I commend them.
That’s pretty much a wrap, nothing else happened worth mentioning really. I am excited about the future of more events like this taking place. Just recently there was the Coffee and Chocolate Expo, but I must say I prefer the more informal setting of a place like The Club. You know, a place where you can grab a bite to eat after going on your caffeine hypo (which we did). Beluga it was. And let me take a moment to mention this. I am also a sushi freak, and I am very quick to critique sushi (high horse, self-righteousness and all that). But Beluga’s sushi really is excellent. Hit them up for their lunch time special (all sushi 50% off except platters). And while you are there, do me a favour and order Tuna Crunch. Don’t question it. Do it, and thank me later.
As for the rest of The Club? Really a stand-out place, somewhere to really just go and relax. Go the Harissa Bistro, or Life Cafe, or Knead. And recently a new steakhouse, Hinterland, opened there, about which a carnivore like myself is also pretty excited.
So if you are looking for a new place to take the missus, look no further than The Club.
Find The Club here:
Cnr. Pinaster Avenue & 18th Street,
Hazelwood, Pretoria, 0081
Editor’s Note: This post was written by, well, me, Ruan Koch the Editor. Pleasure to make your acquaintance. I am the resident Audaciously coffee snob and foodie. Look out for restaurant and coffee shop reviews in the near future. If anyone is interested in having me check out their establishment, don’t be shy. I am unbiased, but I don’t bite. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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