Java, cuppa joe, morning mud, caffeine fix, call it what you want, coffee remains one of the most popular beverages consumed daily.
The pandemic helped save the instantly recognisably eight-sided aluminium pot since the shutters initially went down on coffee shops and restaurants. Stuck at home, people rediscovered the bubble and smoky hiss of the reliable stovetop Moka. Not only that but the environmental backlash against aluminium coffee pods meant that the old-fashioned stovetop pots were back in vogue due to their sustainability credentials since the only waste it produced was coffee grounds. And for an increasingly eco aware world, that natural by-product is eminently compostable. The company’s share price tripled in a year and investors believe the company has a diversified future.
Of course, Starbucks was part of it. But even that business phenomenon was no overnight success. It was started in Seattle in 1971 and took 14 years before it sold its first cup of brewed coffee – because its business was supplying top quality beans and equipment to coffee shops. It took off in the 90s and there are now in excess of 25 000 outlets on all six continents where the mermaid logo attracts customers to use the Wi-Fi to work remotely, catch up with friends or emails or have a ludicrously priced hot beverage in store or to take away. Despite its global appeal, the coffee behemoth only entered the South African scene in the past 18 months, opening its first store in Cape Town in December 2020. The local market has been well served by its own brands and appears to be more loyal to Vida e Caffè, Bootleggers, Seattle, Mugg & Bean, Wiesenhof or independents like Origin, Rosetta and Truth.
A few years back, acerbic food critic Jay Rayner wrote a piece in The Guardian newspaper about the coffee explosion in a traditionally tea drinking country. “Around 60% of the world’s coffee is Arabica, and 30% Robusta,” Rayner wrote. “There are different varieties within that but, bar a few exceptions, that’s not what defines coffee. Instead it’s all about origin. It is not just about a region, or even just a farm. It is about specific plots on those farms, subjected to different climactic and soil conditions. A bean can be delineated by an area of as little as a few hectares.”
And it shows no sign of stopping.