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.
There is an English saying that you can’t teach an old dog a new trick, well this “old dog” learnt one last week.
I was hosting a foreign group who have specifically come to South Africa to look at our old steam locomotives. I was totally unaware that here in Bloemfontein there is the only workshop in South Africa dedicated in repairing and preserving these by gone relics.
I have once read that Bloemfontein had the largest workshop in South Africa for repairing locomotives, but I never really followed up on this. I was flabbergasted in what I saw and I regret in not taking more photos, there are about 10-15 perfectly restored steam locomotives and various other railway paraphernalia in various stages of development. Two of the locomotives are to be shipped out to New Zealand and others are used here in the Free State at Sandstone Estate near Ficksburg.
If you have ever had the opportunity to visit the Transport museum in George and seen all the old trains there, then the chances are it was restored here in Bloemfontein. This is a wonderful opportunity for any steam railway enthusiast to view these machines (I think it’s a man’s dream world) and is a wonderful attraction here for those who are interested. One has to book in advance to make the necessary bookings but I can recommend a visit to the workshop and will add value to my city tour.
I know that April will be a bumper month for the tourism industry with the Angus Buchannan conference being held soon. I think that we can compare this month to October when the Macufe festival attracts people from all over South Africa and all the accommodation places are fully booked. I do have some concerns with the logistics for this conference but I hope that everything will run smoothly and professionally and perhaps Bloemfontein can host it again next year.
Please contact me if you have any tour guiding requests or in need of transfers.