Friday, June 01, 2007

Building a relationship with a winning cup of coffee

June 01, 2007 Edition 1

Cape times Cape Town South Africa

The Cup of Excellence is an annual award which takes place all over world with the best coffee beans going to auction on the internet. Guatemala hosts one of the most prestigious COE events with 120 bags for sale. Two bags of Viviano Jalapa won the toss last year and were nabbed by David Donde and Joel Singer of Origin Coffee Roasting, writes ROBYN COHEN.

"What do you think, take your time …," says David Donde serving up espresso A and espresso B in little glasses with the requisite layering of crema (coffee foam).

One of the espressos is brewed from his stash of the Cup of Excellence Viviano Jalapa which clicks in at R500 a kilo. The other, I am told is Gethumbwini from Kenya and costs about R260 a kilo.

Most espressos at Origin Coffee Roasting cost R9 but, for a Viviano, you are looking at R21 a shot - its most expensive coffee.

"Both coffees are excellent. I don't have average. We are a roastery which happens to also have a coffee shop - not a coffee shop which has a roastery."

"Relationship coffee", is how Donde describes what he and Joel Singer are doing at Origin. "We know where the coffee comes from - the farm, who is responsible."

Grub includes decent-looking sandwiches (R23), salads (R25), cheesecake and muffins (R12 to R18). I munched on a crispy Origin Swirl - which I would describe as a cross between a cinnamon bun, croissant and Jewish boolkah (R13).

The coffee shop part of the business is on the ground floor but they are in the process of bringing in additional roasting apparatus, extending floor space and kitting out another coffee shop on the top floor of this heritage 1903 building, once a tobacco warehouse.

In addition to coffees, Origin Coffee Roasting stocks speciality teas - like a spectacular Chinese tea which begins as little ball and unfurls itself when immersed in hot water (R20 to drink, R12 to buy and make at home).

Some drink on the premises (open from 7am during the week); others take home freshly roasted beans (should be used within two weeks of roasting). Origin also roast for and supply the hospitality industry.

On the Monday morning I was there, the place was humming with laptops and lively chit chat as the suits did their 8am catch-up. A bit like a gentleman's club.

The laptop brigade have been clamouring for wireless internet. Donde hopes his will be up and running when the extension to Origin is complete.

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