The Chronicles of Cape Town Coffee: Episode One

“Coffee is the best thing to douse the sunrise with.”

“I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee.”

“Everybody should believe in something. I believe I’ll have another coffee.”

These are only a few of the quotes that are beautifully draped all around the Java Junction, a popular spot to grab coffee before lectures here at UCT. You could say that Cape Town does recommend coffee for those feeling less than energetic.

If you have ever met me in person, there is a good chance I was holding a cup of coffee. If not, I was probably about to go acquire one. For a coffee connoisseur, the small town of Orange, California does not exactly provide one with a multitude of options. Having done my coffee research before arriving in Cape Town, I found lists upon lists of “top 10s” and “best values” regarding caffeine in the Mother City. I made it my mission to try all of the above before I return home. This may sound expensive, but you’d be surprised how much coffee you can get here for the price of one Starbucks frappuccino. I have been comparing price, taste, and service, then giving an overall score out of 10. It has been a little over a month, and here are my findings so far (in attempted chronological order):

Col’Cacchio: (A special shout out is needed here because this was my first taste of South African coffee)

  • Drink: Cappuccino
  • Price: R20 ($1.66)
  • Taste: phenomenal (granted I was experiencing the most disorientating jet lag in the world)
  • Service: As fast as it could be when 45 American invade a restaurant
  • Overall Score: 9/10 – minus one point because it was smaller than others in terms of volume

Vida e Caffe: conveniently located right on the main road, Vida e Caffe is one of the only places where “iced” actually means over ice. At almost all other locations, iced means ice blended.

  • Drink: Iced Mocha
  • Price: R34 ($2.82)
  • Taste: Very chocolatey but also very good
  • Service: It was busy when I went, so it took a little longer, but everyone was warm and welcoming!
  • Overall Score: 7/10 – on the pricey side compared to others

Cocoa Wah Wah: also on main road, a popular spot for food and coffee (they also have a loyalty/rewards card)

  • Drink: Cappuccino
  • Price: R17 (small) ($1.41) R22 (large) ($1.83)
  • Taste: One of my favorites, perfect combo of espresso and sweetness
  • Service: Usually pretty fast, but can be longer on busier days
  • Overall Score: 9/10 (also comes with a cookie)

Mug&Bean: One of the famous brands on those lists, located at several malls

  • Drink: Frozen Mocha Coffee
  • Price: R32 ($2.65)
  • Taste: This one was incredible, I won’t lie
  • Service: Very fast!
  • Overall Score: 9/10 – again on the pricey side

On Campus: There are several places to get coffee on campus (stands, cafes and machines) ranging from R9 (75 cents) to R15 ($1.25) and all are pretty decent and fast! I usually go for the R9 before lectures 🙂

Giovanni’s Deli World: Located in Green Point, this popular foodie destination also has a brilliant cappuccino.

  • Drink: Cappuccino
  • Price: R20 ($1.66)
  • Taste: very similar to Cocoa Wah Wah and Col’Cacchio, but stronger in terms of espresso.
  • Service: Very quick and friendly
  • Overall Score: 10/10 – also came with cocoa powder sprinkled on top, which was unique and also delicious

Truth: Probably the most famous or well known brand, also known as the Truth Coffee Cult. This was from the stand in the Market on the Warf at the V&A Waterfront.

  • Drink: Cappuccino
  • Price: R20 ($1.66)
  • Taste: Definitely different from the rest, but still pretty good.
  • Service: Fast but also slightly rushed
  • Overall Score: 8/10

Europa: located in the beach town of Hermanus (about an hour and a half away), we stopped for lunch here while on a kayaking excursion on my birthday!

  • Drink: Cappuccino
  • Price: R22 ($1.83)
  • Taste: Pretty good, nice balance of milk, foam, and espresso
  • Service: took longer than usual, but the 40 person invasion explains that
  • Overall: 7/10

JC Brasserie & Pub: Located in the City Bowl, this restaurant has the perfect cup of coffee for Sunday mornings.

  • Drink: Cappuccino
  • Price: R18 ($1.49)
  • Taste: One of my favorites, not too sweet and strong enough to wake me up
  • Service: Not as fast as others, but our waitress was great
  • Overall Score: 10/10 – for price and taste

I’ll upload pictures of these beauties when my email decides to work 🙂

As I continue this coffee connoisseur adventure, I’ll be sure to update with another episode!

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