Contrary to the multiple voices in my head I forced myself out of bed on a rainy, windy, cold winter’s morning in Cape Town to be up close with specialty coffee tasting.
From Fish Hoek to Constantia, I drove over the Ou Kaapse Weg (awkwardly translated, ‘The Old Cape route ’) just to be delayed by an accident. I finally wound my way into beautiful Constantia with its vineyards and lush vegetation. Quaffee coffee roasters is on a wine farm called Buitenverwachting, which means beyond expectation – and it is.
Warren Machanik stood on one side of the bar with me and my two fellow coffee tasters Jen and John on the other. Once I had my equipment out and pen in hand Warren started the proceedings. What is better than specialty coffee tasting on a cold morning, brewed and served by a dedicated coffee lover?
Warren Machanik and Specialty Coffee
Warren sees himself as one who truly loves coffee. Growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa, his dad forbade him to drink coffee until he could grind his own coffee beans. At the age of 12 he had his first cup of coffee but only on Sundays! Nothing religious about that! A romance had started! The old coffee grinder made it to university where Warren shared his love for coffee with fellow students who magically appeared when they heard the grinder.
He graduated with a degree in computer science, started a business, but he continued to love coffee – and even to start roasting his own. In early 2000 he met a fellow coffee lover who roasted coffee and started a partnership. When circumstances were just right, he sold his IT business and came fully into the coffee trade. Sold on sustainability and fair business practices, Warren wanted to meet his suppliers and farm workers to be assured that the workers were treated fairly and that the farming methods were up to transparent and sustainable standards. This journey took him to South America, Africa north of the equator and other countries. Commenting on Quaffee’s unusual logo, he says.’ The symbol of a frog represents our journey. It also serves as a constant reminder to ensure that we remain bound to our vision and true to the each individual involved in that supply of each bean we offer.
Warren is a coffee-educator which adds immeasurable value to the drinking experience. As he shares his knowledge, you begin to appreciate specialty coffee so much more which adds meaning to the taste! The process from seedling to washing to fermenting to milling to enjoying was explained with passion. We tasted three different coffees, brewed in two different ways. Starting out with Asorganic from Colombia, then Peaberry from Kenya and finally Erapuca from Honduras.
Each of us made a personal choice which led Warren to insist that there is no bad choice with specialty coffee…people just have different preferences. My favourite was Asorganic on that day. Specialty coffee is separated from the standard coffee very early in the grading process and it is usually 3 to 4 times the price.
He quoted Nick Cho who said, ‘specialty coffee is a coffee that you want to drink black’ According to Wikipedia, “Specialty coffee” was first used in 1974 by Erna Knutsen in an issue of Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. Knutsen used this term to describe beans of the best flavor which are produced in special microclimates….Specialty coffee should not be confused with “gourmet” or “premium” coffee’
So when you are in Cape Town, specialty coffee tasting at Quaffee down in Constantia, has to be on your Cape Town bucket-list. Contact me at [email protected] for practical suggestions and help.