Curious about the long-standing coffee culture alive in Durban today? Read on for an insightful guide and ramble about South Africa's third biggest city and its coffee drinking hot spots
One of my favourite things about Durban is its coffee culture. Coffee drinking is something I grew up with in a sense. My father would stop at Colombo Tea and Coffee co. (as I remember it from childhood) for a bag of freshly ground beans. Returning home, the car and my hands always smelt of that delicious coffee smell. I will always have fond memories of the small window of Colombo where you would ask for the type of beans you liked, tell them if it was machine/french press, and maybe get a packet of peri-peri cashews.
Of course, this has changed. Recently, I read an article by Counter Culture (a coffee shop high on my list of places to go) about the new Starbucks up the popular Florida road from them. It was an interesting read, they welcomed Starbucks and were happy for the job creation as well as the positive coffee culture influence that Starbucks would possibly have.
Every time I visit my hometown, I look for new coffee shops that have opened and try to go to them. When I lived in Durban, I looked forward to the 'Best Coffee Shop' of the year and followed the competition with interest. Durbanites, it seemed, wanted to know where they could go to enjoy a cup of coffee. A simple thing, you may say but something very important. Here is a short list of a few of my personal favourites to grab a lovely cup of coffee while in Durban:
Bean Green Coffee Roastery: This is a coffee shop that I have returned to many a time. Situated on Davenport Road, not far from the University of KwaZulu Natal's Howard College, Bean Green is a small place with a vinyl record player adding to the rustic ambience. The coffee offered is simple but delicious. There are also baked treats to eat and two tables outside to enjoy the lovely Durban weather.
Savior Coffee Co.: This coffee shop is located in the 'hipster' area, Station Drive. You can get your coffee to go (through a window) or sit down in the warehouse style cafe. The coffee is perfect with no complaints from me and the environment would be great for a quick work session on your laptop. The shop doubles as Savior's leather shop and there is a small offering of jewellery and homeware.
Seattle Coffee Co.: If you are looking for more of a standardised, franschised vibe, stop by this place. The coffee is great and they offer a selection of items for coffee and non-coffee drinkers with both hot and cold options. Starbucks can be expensive, especially for return customers, but a coffee shop like Seattle Coffee Co. bridges that gap. Like most coffee shops, you can have your coffee to go or at the cozy looking couches and tables of the shop. They have some baked goods if you are peckish and offer coffee cups that you can buy for yourself and they can make your coffee in. This is a good option if you are the environmentalist and consume lots of coffee.
Spiga D'Oro/Old Town Italy: I simply cannot write a coffee shop blog post without mentioning the coffee from Italian restaurants. Before places like Starbucks, Seattle Coffee Co. and even Vida e Caffe, coffee's place to be was the Italian restaurant. With top quality machines and coffee brands like Illy or Lavazza, you can bet that places like Spiga and Old Town would have a great cup. These two are my personal favourites but other places like Lupa Osteria and Al Firenze would probably be good bets too.
Counter Culture: New but not to be missed, this was my favourite new spot. The barista was knowledgeable and could choose a coffee as per my taste. They have a standard menu of coffee with some interesting additions including something called a 'Vietnamese Rose" that involves a coffee, rose water and condensed milk. The black batch brew was fantastic and my coffee partner enjoyed a sublime cortado. The shop itself is stylistically minimal and the staff were very friendly. If you are on Florida Road and hankering for a coffee, skip the Starbucks and stop by here!
Okay, you get it, Durban's coffee is fantastic and not to be missed. I'll stop going on about it. Just promise you'll try it when you visit Durban?
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