February, the month of love, is drawing to a close and there’s great joy in our hearts knowing that we took part in the celebration and were able to spread the love.
In February, people celebrate love all month long. Across the world, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on the 14th of February and we are no exception here in Bloemfontein. An abundance of love, romance, chocolates, flowers and cards showed the value and importance our City of Roses places on love.
On the 14th of February, we at Arista Guest House had the wonderful opportunity to help couples celebrate this special day. We partnered with Silent Events Free State/Bloemfontein Popcorn Club and Sonique Productions to bring our lovebirds “Silent Valentine” –an exclusive outdoor movie experience. As you may remember Bloemfontein had high levels of rain but the event still took place regardless of the weather conditions. The garden was perfectly reenacted indoors and as a result the audience members still walked away with a sense of an exclusive outdoor movie experience. Our audience was on specialised high quality headphones which were provided to all audience members to enjoy the movie, affording them the luxury of being unaffected by noise . There was absolutely no noise pollution and the audience was emerged into the movie. The old time favourite 1990 film “Ghost” was on screen with its mixture of comedy, thrills and mushy romance being perfect in capturing the theme for the evening. Also, an added cool perk was the audience could switch to a channel of old time favourite love songs or have an intimate conversation and time with their loved one. All this was done while sitting on picnic blankets and enjoying delicious popcorn, beverages and snacks of course. *SPOILS*
Thank you to all those who came to share the love, It’s always a pleasure.
Bloem events to lookout
for in March:
2 – 26 March – Lifestyle Sunday’s AT Ramblers @ 7:30 – 14:00
6 March Fun Insightful Art Evening AT Gallery on Leviseur @18:30
12 March Russian Ballet Bloemfontein @19:00
17 March Bloemfest @10:00
29 March Silent Movie Experience AT Arista Guesthouse @20:00
31 March Bloemfontein Street Food and Craft Festival @10:00
31 March Jazz On The Lawn at Windmill Casino @14:00
As the leaves turn shades of red and orange and yellow, the Free State winter months promise to be exciting and jam-packed. While some people are getting ready for the winter and others are planning a summer holiday abroad, I am putting everything aside to celebrate female entrepreneurs and business owners with Startup Grind Bloemfontein… and so should you!
May month marks Female Founders’ Month for Startup Grind Chapters in over 350 cities in 100 countries across the globe. Startup Grind Bloemfontein will be hosting a number of local entrepreneurs and two guest speakers in a very unique way.
The programme is loaded with valuable content and opportunities to network with like-minded entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs. There will be coffee and popcorn for sale, and all guests will receive a goodie box. All members of the community are most welcome to attend; the young and old, male and female! And trust me, you don’t want to miss this.
We’ve told you where in Bloem you can find the final product; now we are going to share with you the coffee-making process from an actual coffee maker’s perspective. We were fortunate enough to host German Zelayandia at Arista Guesthouse back in 2012. He is a Salvadoran engineer who visited Bloemfontein on business. He is part of a company called @GrupoConval, Salvadoran coffee production company and these are his insights.
The history behind the company dates back as far as 1918, where one man and one woman united with a common interest in coffee production. From there onwards, generations of coffee growers acquired new coffee farms in better geographical areas, installed wet and dry mills and switched over rom generic to speciality coffee for exportation and to introduce tourism as a compliment to the sustainability of the coffee production.
Fast forward to 2018 and the fourth generation of coffee growers has, amongst other things, broadened the exportation of speciality coffees and has introduced new varieties (geisha) and 3 members of the fifth generation are interested in joining in on the venture.
The coffee farms Monte Verde and Los Cipreces are on the Ilanmatepec mountains.
Both these farms produce mainly bourbon and pacas varieties. The harvest period spans from December to February each year and the area experiences sufficient temperatures and rainfall for optimal growth of a variety of trees.
We did not exaggerate when we said that coffee-making is an intricate process, but here’s our simplified version of the whole shebang:
It all starts with cutting, sorting and weighing of cherries. Then, the coffee is transferred to the wet mill for pulping. It is then left to ferment for an average of eight hours before it is eventually taken to dry in the drying yards. After about 6 to 8 days of drying in the sun, being moved and covered with plastic in the evenings, they proceed to gather the coffee in bags (by variety, batch, plank, characteristics, process etc.) and transport the bags to a horizontal drier for further drying. Finally, they are packed into new bags and stored in warehouses in separate consignments, depending on the case and wooden pallets.
Conval Group is deeply rooted in family values and social responsibility. This is shown in the fact that the 5th generation of the same family is about to take over the company and in the fact that they take care not to waste water in their processes, respectively.
For information on where to find their coffee beans, please refer to www.grupoconval.com
You know the conversation has reached its expiry once you start talking about the weather… but in this case it is exactly where our conversation begins.
Before we begin our “weather convo”, we would just like to mention: Over the years we have met some incredible people at Arista, who ( as the story has it) arrived as strangers and left as friends. Amongst them is a Salvadoran engineer, coffee connoisseur and simply a nice guy, German Zelayandia. Cool name, right? While working on a project in SA a few years back, he introduced the Arista team to his passion: coffee from El Salvador. Needless to say, it was love at first sight.
In our follow up post we will tell you more about Salvadorian coffee culture, the family who has been in business for almost 100 years and how to get hold of those beans in South Africa, #businessopportunity.
Now… It has been uncomfortably cold in the Rose City these past few weeks. I think it is safe to say that winter is on its way and that it is going to be a cold one. What better way to gear up for the colder months than to find out exactly where you can grab a warm cuppa joe in Bloemfontein? We took it upon ourselves to identify five local hot spots for you. We spoke to the owners of Faba, Jaru, Royal Roastery, Stereo Cafe and Urban Brew and asked three (what we thought were) simple questions: Why coffee, what coffee and when coffee? Here’s what they had to say:
FABA WHY coffee?
“Well, this is actually a very difficult question as we simply just love coffee! Coffee is a fascinating industry to be in as there is as yet no real standard as to how things are done and this gives you so much more room to experiment and learn something new each and every day and with this it gives us the willingness to go and take these new things to our customers and educate them about coffee as this is what we are all about actually. The speciality coffee industry is relatively new in Bloemfontein as compared to Cape Town and Johannesburg but it is an upcoming industry and we are so excited to be a part of this niche market in its infancy stages. Our main aim is to bring the beans to Bloemfontein which are not available at any other roasters in Bloemfontein as there is just so many places that produce great coffee! So our current offer list is Cameroon, D.R Congo and Malawi.”
“We love the Single Origin Cameroon that we roast Medium it is very soft on the tongue and had a creamy taste to it.”
“For us, the best time to have coffee is first thing in the morning as it reminds us of why we are doing hat we are doing and it just really gives us the energy to get through the day as we appreciate a great coffee!”
JARU WHY Coffee?
“Why not? Everything about it just overwhelmingly inviting… the fact that coffee grows on trees in high altitude sub-tropical areas far away from where we are now. Then it is handpicked, squeezed out and washed to be shipped to places all over the world where skilful roasters put their knowledge and machines into practice. After which we find the beans, we all love to smell, in the hands of a skilful barista who prepares the perfect cup of coffee that makes us all feel good inside. And just the way coffee brings people together; whether it’s after a meal, around the breakfast table or in a queue at you favourite coffee shop.”
“Firstly, you have many different types of origins from many different countries with each having its own distinctive characteristics in flavour, body and acidity. But for us here at Jaru we prefer Brazil Cerrado which is a full bodied coffee with a chocolate and nutty undertone…and then our favourite beverage to enjoy that in is a Flat White…Jaru Style!”
“The best time to have coffee is most definitely in the morning. And that will always be the very first thing in the morning…’cause it’s true: it wakes you up.”
ROYAL ROASTERY WHY Coffee?
“Royal Roastery started with a small group of friends, who had a dream of bringing quality coffee to the people of Bloemfontein! Although it’s difficult to serve a niche product in a small town, we believe that although coffee can be exceptional, all our customers can enjoy it the way they like it. Coffee may seem ordinary for the everyday coffee drinker, but we strongly believe that there is so much more to learn about coffee than just being a caffeinated drink. Our roasters, baristas and waiters believe that it’s not just about serving an amazing cup of coffee, but rather what it takes to create that perfect cup of coffee!”
“From bean to cup, each coffee delivers different characteristics and flavour profiles; depending on the roast (light, medium, dark) and of course the espresso recipe used. We strive to always serve a single origin coffee, which have originated from one specific country (Guatemala, Rwanda, Kenya) or a specific region e.g. Colombia Popayan. This enhances the quality and characteristics of each coffee and helps the customers realise that not all coffees taste the same. Our passion for single origin coffees is what helps us educate our customers and also the coffee culture of Bloemfontein!
Apart from our espresso bar, where we strive to serve you the best possible single origin espresso based drink (Cortado, flat white, cappuccino, latté), we also have a slow bar or manual brew bar section. This is where the Royal difference comes in, where our customers can enjoy various different manual brew coffee methods each unique in its own way. We offer V60 and Chemex as a “pour over” selection and an Aeropress for a more crisp and full body taste. The Syphon is where science and coffee meets, where the brewing process of your coffee is done through temperature, gravity and concentration. The slow bar takes more attention to detail, seeing that water temperature, the size of grinded coffee and brewing ratios can influence the final product. Be sure to ask the barista for recommendations on which single origin coffee to pair with what brewing method.”
“From sunrise to sunset, anytime and anywhere is a good time for quality coffee!”
STEREO CAFE WHY coffee?
“Coffee is an important part of cultures around the world. Many people start or end their day with coffee – be it instant, filter or cappuccino or flat white from their favourite cafe. It’s a drink that brings people together or to enjoy in solitude. It has a fascinating history and a wonderful complexity, especially when exploring the world of specialty coffee. In the wise words of this anonymous quote, “Coffee is always a good idea”.”
“It depends on what you enjoy. There are so many options depending on your preference. At Stereo Café, espresso-based milk drinks like flat white and cappuccino, made using our house espresso blend, are quite popular. On a hot summer or warm winter afternoon a cold brew (made with our own coffee concentrate and served with milk and ice) is also a popular choice. We serve a delicious pour-over (filter) coffee too. Our current speciality coffee from Burundi or our Ethiopian Yirgacheffe both make delicious filter coffees – best enjoyed black.”
“The most popular time of day to enjoy coffee is probably in the morning – that is when we are busiest at Stereo Café. But if you are less sensitive to caffeine then anytime is a good time for coffee. If you want the taste of good coffee without the caffeine then try our decaf coffee from Colombia – contrary to what many people believe, decaf, roasted well, is still delicious. Being a coffee roaster, we have a variety of coffee to choose from – freshly roasted beans or ground to order, to enjoy at home or office whenever you feel the need.”
URBAN BREW WHY coffee?
“Besides the science of coffee, I am mesmerised by the potential coffee possesses to bring people from all walks of life together. Work, social, any gathering is suitable for great coffee.
Coffee tells that story of people and I love to be part of it.” WHAT coffee?
“The method I use to brew coffee determines the origin for me.
I love a pour over in the morning (it’s a slowly brewed filter coffee). With this, I love a washed Ethiopian Heirloom varietal or a single origin Kenyan SL28.”
“All the time is good for great coffee, but there is something special about the first cup of the morning…as long as it is shared with someone special.”
There you have it, folks. Whether you are in search of a hang-out, a place to have a business meeting or a little bit of warmth, these places are worth the visit.
Two things are evident from the answers above:
1) These roasters share a serious, beautiful passion for quality coffee AND
2) Our questions were not as simple as they seemed after all.
Coffee-making is a complex process with a plain and simple result: the taste of pure goodness -pure goodness that you are more than welcome to come and experience at Arista Guesthouse as well, by the way.
Keep warm and enjoy a cup of coffee.
A Traveller’s Friend
PS all places are listed alphabetically & images are compliments of the respective roasters. Thank you!
PPS for more info on the stores, visit their websites/Facebook & Instagram pages.
The 2000’s is legal now. We’ll leave it to 2018 to tell us what exactly that means! Meanwhile, I took a three-month break from blogging and focussed on exams, spending time with family and friends and re-charging for the new year.
I spent a few weeks in Cape Town over the festive season. As per usual, I had a grand time but I felt extremely guilty whenever I used water. My time in the Cape forced me to face the reality that water is a precious and scarce resource and it is about time we treat it that way. Who’s to say Bloem isn’t next in line? We’ve already experienced a week without water last November and it can happen again. Also, how terrible does our water taste at the moment? With all these revelations, I would like to recommend a few water-saving tips I picked up in Cape Town and I urge you to start using water sparingly, as if every day will be the last day you have access to water.
Here they are:
Shower instead of bathing
Aim to stop-start shower for no longer than 2 minutes. Only turn the water on to wet and again to rinse
Collect shower water while you’re showering; alternatively, only collect the nearly 5 litres that go to waste when you’re warming up the water. This water can be used to fill your toilet bowls
If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If brown, flush it down. Use hand sanitizer instead of washing your hands with soap and water
Water your garden and/or fill the toilet bowl with collected bath and basin water
Don’t let the tap run whilst brushing teeth or washing your face
Wet wipes work wonders
If you’re willing and able, invest in a grey water system. For further information, inbox us at Arista Guesthouse
Wait for a full load before running washing machines and dishwashers. The rinse water from some washing machines can be re-used for the next wash cycle.
Defrost foods in the fridge or naturally, rather than placing it under running water
Put aside your convenience and get saving! These methods are inexpensive and worth it in the long run.
Speaking of run… who will be running through your mind this Month of Love? Don’t let your love run dry. Here’s what you and your partner can get up to in Bloemtown in February:
Side note: Not exclusively for singles. 😉
6 Feb – 59Plenty’s Cake Table Special, 59Plenty @9h00
7 Feb – Girls’ Night Out: ‘Fifty Shades Freed’, Nu Metro Loch Logan @19h00
7 Feb – Movie Night, CoffeTalks Café @19h00
7 Feb – Mini Food & Wine Paring, 59Plenty @18h00
7 Feb – Bloemfontein Business Women’s Networking Event @7h30
10 Feb – Stellar Brewery Tasting with Down South, Blend Restaurant and Bar @17h00
10 Feb – Kloppers Marathon 2018, Bloemfontein Achilles Sports Centre @5h30
14 Feb – Candy & Cognac Valentine’s Day Dinner Dance, Windmill Casino @18h00
14 Feb – Valentines outdoor movie, Emoya Estate @17h00
14 Feb – Valentine’s Day “Make a Wish” for Couples, 59Plenty @18h00
14 Feb – Valentine’s Day at The Beach, Kaya Beach Bloemfontein @10h30
14 Feb – Valentine’s Charity Ball, Monte Bello Estate @18h30
16 Feb – Varsity Jam Bloemfontein / The Other Venue @20h00
16 Feb – 21st Birthday, Mystic Boer Bloemfontein @21h00
17 Feb – BLOEM LIFESTYLE MARKET, Bloem Showgrounds @11h00-22h00
17 Feb – Valentine’s Day Movie evening: showcasing La La Land, Oliewenhuis Art Museum @17h30
17 Feb – Vintage & Hobby Market, Reizis Square @9h00
17 Feb – Jack Parow Live at University of Free State @19h00
17 Feb – Hip Hop Poetry Extravaganza, TheHide-Out @20h00
20 Feb – Drumability Workshop #3, CoffeeTalks Café @18h00
22 Feb – February Chocolate Workshop, 59Plenty @18h00
23 Feb – Tasting With DIE MAS – Gin , Wine and Brandy, The Tredenham Boutique Hotel @18h30
23 Feb – Gypsy evening with ‘Unlock the Gypsy Within’ workshop, Gallery On Leviseur @18h00
27 Feb – Bookbinding Workshop, Oliewenhuis Art Museum @9h30
28 Feb – Sweat Gear Happy Valley Trailrun Night Race – #TrailrunSeries2 @18h00
28 Feb – February Sushi Workshop, 59Plenty @18h00
Masha and I wish you and your loved ones a twenty-great-teen and hope you’ve managed to tick a few items off of your resolutions list. Now would be a great time to add “save water” to the list. We look forward to sharing more Bloem adventures with you.
Bloemfontein is often mistaken for a big town, as we move at a slightly slower pace in this part of the country. Lesley Jennings & Masha Gubkina are passionate about the growth and development of Bloemfontein and have therefore decided to up the tempo by piloting the Startup Grind Bloemfontein Chapter in November 2016.
Startup Grind is a Google empowered forum which serves as a catalyst for change in the world of business and entrepreneurship. The forum is active in over 250 cities across the world and is all about educating, inspiring and connecting. Each chapter hosts monthly events where they interview inspirational and dynamic entrepreneurs and facilitate networking between people in business before and after the interview.
The Bloemfontein chapter has hosted 10 events up until now, featuring successful local entrepreneurs in interior design, construction, entertainment, law and the like. These events are truly a wonderful opportunity to learn, make friends, help others and give back. Lesley and her right hand, Masha Gubkina ensure that with every event that they host, they make use of local venues and services (including the make-up, photography, videography, sound and catering teams).
Be sure to look out for their Oktoberfest themed event on Wednesday, 25 October 2017 at the CUT Idea Gymnasium. Miles Kubheka, owner of Vuyo’s Restaurant, will be joining them for an evening of good food, beer and company. They are turning 1 in November and have very exciting plans for that too. I hope to see you there!
The keyword is local and if the local community can continue to work together and support one another, by making use of platforms such as Startup Grind Bloemfontein, I can only have an enthusiastic outlook on the future of our CITY. Bloemfontein is a developing city and the possibilities are endless.
This month Masha and I had the privilege of hanging out with Jasiu Lewtak, co-owner of award-winning Stellar Brewery, in the spirit of Oktoberfest. Stellar Brewery has been running for about a year and their delicious beers are handcrafted right here in Bloemfontein. We asked all the important questions; how Jasiu ended up in Bloemfontein, how the brewery came to be and where you can find their products. We even got a sneak peek into their future prospects. Here’s more about the man behind the beer, and the beer itself of course.
When life in Warsaw, Poland became too comfortable for their liking, Jasiu and his wife decided that it would be a good time to pack their bags and move to “somewhere far”. They were in search of a city that was conservative and difficult to change. And that’s how they ended up in Bloemfontein. The couple identified the fact that things were brewing here and that there was an opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the Bloemfontein community – something they’ve succeeded in thus far!
Whilst taking on his post-doctoral studies in Chemistry at the UFS, Jasiu took an interest in the intricacies of the beer brewing process. He took part in a few competitions where he won silver and gold medals for home-brewing. Once all his recipes were proven, he decided to go commercial. Jasiu and his business partners subsequently started up Stellar Brewery in 2016, with the main objective of influencing the craft scene in the Free State and South Africa. The name “Stellar” was derived from the idea that the galaxy features unlimited possibilities, just like their beer brewing business.
The brewery sources locally as far as they can and they pride themselves in experimenting with and producing beers of superior quality. Their beers are designed so as to appreciate and enjoy the taste and flavours. My favourite has to be the Bloem Weiss; enjoyable it is! The team recently took part in a craft brewers’ competition in Cape Town where they won a SILVER medal for beer aged in oak. And get this… someone drove all the way from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein the other day with the sole purpose of buying all the available bottles of this particular beer. At retail price nogals. Naturally, Jasiu is facing cultural and language barriers which impact on business. On the bright side, he finds that the community is receptive, especially when they realise that he’s foreign. Stellar Brewery’s products are clearly in demand and they can only go onwards and upwards from here.
Stellar Brewery has since launched their gin products at the Vryfees and they’ve been distilling whiskey and experimenting with British Styled rum. They’re looking to continue making an impact on the craft scene, expanding the business and brewing more obscure styles of beer for the connoisseurs. As a foreigner with an objective view of South Africa, Jasiu has an admirable amount of faith in the potential of our economy and he is certainly contributing.
Now, for the most important bit of information: you can find Stellar Brewery products at local markets, Liquor City Preller & Bloemgate, Bella Casa and Galaxy Pub. They will be at the Statrup Grind event on the 25th of October. Also, they featured as one of three local breweries at this year’s 1st annual Beer Fest at Ramblers Club. Look out for next year’s edition.
As a beer lover myself, I look forward to seeing this business making waves in the South African craft scene. Local is lekker, so be sure to support these guys. And if you are a foreigner considering moving to Bloemfontein, this story is testament to the fact that there most certainly is a space here for you.
PS Bloemfontein has a beer club. Members come together over the weekend and are given brewing styles to experiment with. They figure out what works, what doesn’t, how to improve and who can help. There are over 100 styles to test and if something like “testing the activity of beta analyse depending on the PH of water” tickles your fancy, join the club. Pop Stellar Breweries an inbox on Facebook should you be interested in becoming a member. Give them a like while you’re at it!
You know spring is here when you wake up to the chirping of birds and with an uncontrollable urge to clean out your closet. September, synonymous with spring, is a month of renewal, fertility and (for most of us) the turning over of a new leaf.
With a fresh start comes new experiences, new people, new places, a new wardrobe and a new you. It is also the perfect time to reflect on where you come from, who you are and where you are now. What better time to reflect than on Heritage Day, the 24th of September?
Heritage Day is so much more than “National Braai Day”. It is a day set aside in recognition and celebration of the diverse cultural heritages of all South Africans. And South Africa is a true melting pot of heritages. Our heritage forms part of our identity. The importance of diversity and recognizing and respecting our differences in culture, beliefs and traditions cannot be stressed enough. Imagine how dull life would be if we were all the same? I cannot. Furthermore, we need to recognize one another’s differences in order to enable us to be empathetic towards one another. And we must respect one another’s differences so that we can (continue) to live in beautifully diverse harmony. What does your heritage mean to you?
My maternal grandparents were Portuguese immigrants from Madeira. They took so much pride in being Portuguese and instilled that sense of pride and carrying forth of traditions in their children and grandchildren. I could listen to stories of their past for hours on end and took a great interest in their ways of life in general. So much of Madeira lived in their homes and in their hearts, and it continues to live in my home and heart too.
Madeira is known for its Bailinho da Madeira (a traditional dance with the accompanying song), beautiful flowers, and elaborate firework shows over New Year’s. Don’t get me started on the food and drink…: Bolo de Mel (honey cake), custard tarts,espada, espetada, poncha, Brisa. My mouth is literally watering right now. On Heritage Day my family tries to get together for lunch. On the menu will usually be espetada, boiled potatoes and a salad. My uncle Joao makes the most delicious poncha; strong and sweet just how I like it. There will be the occasional playing of Portuguese music but we don’t dress up and perform the Bailinho… We leave that to the experts on the Portuguese channel RTP.
I’ve shared with you how I celebrate Heritage Day. How do you celebrate? Do you celebrate Heritage Day/Month? If not, we have a few suggestions for you:
2 September / Market Day- Free State Art Symposium / André Huguenet Theatre 9AM-2PM
2 September / Youth Concerto Festival / Odeion School of music/ 7.30PM
2 September / Boho Birthday Bash with DJ Shaxe / Boho Bistro/ 11PM
3 September / Journey to the stars / Naval Hill Planetarium / 4PM
3 September / VEUVE Clicquot Picnic CHIC/ Kobose Luxury: The Luxury Events Company
4 September/ 2017 Phatshoane Henney New Breed Art Competition/ Oliewenhuis
6 September/ Happy Valley& Oliewenhuis Art Museum Trail Night Race/ Oliewenhuis/ 5.30-8PM
7 September / Fashion Show Child Welfare / Ramblers Club
14 September / Jazz Evenings featuring Mlungisi Gegana/ Coco C / 7.30PM
22 September / Pilates Mat Short Course / Ramblers Club / 9AM
23 September / The Craft Festival /Ramblers club Bloemfontein / 12-10PM
23 September / PARTY@PLENTY/ @59 Plenty / 7.30PM
24 September / Special Heritage Day Programme Myths and Stories in the Sky / Naval Hill Planetarium / 4PM
27 September / Startup Grind Bfn empowered by Google/ @59 Plenty/ 6-9PM
29 September / No Limits / Mystic Boer Bfn / 8PM-4AM