The Best Coffee In Africa?

People started walking into the discreet little coffee shop, wielding magazines and GPS on their phones. “This is the place” became a frequent comment. Soon, we learned that they were foreign visitors who had read in the in-flight magazines about “the best coffee in Africa”

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Standard fare!  Photo by Karen, 2017

Don’t expect any sophistication or brand names. No, here we talk real old style sit down cafe style with just an honest coffee.

Coffee is made with the choicest Arabica beans; no acidulous Robusta allowed in this little cavern of culture. With coffees from some 28 countries from Indonesia to Columbia and pretty much everything else in between, you are guaranteed to taste a very nice blend, if not a pure brew.

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Anthony Swartz (79) is South Africa’s oldest serving barista and the first black commercial coffee roaster in Cape Town. Photo by Pete in 2017

An established clientele spread around the globe from New Zealand, Australia all the way up to Norway, Sweden, Finland.  Yes, from Japan to Canada and the USA they arrive, from Argentine to Alaska.  Old friendships stretching across decades as Anthony started his career in coffee and tea in 1963. And you thought the new kids on the block were the best?  Think again.

The twice weekly or even daily roast gets delivered to clients across the Peninsula, even into the Boland. Gordon’s Bay, Wellington, Durbanville.  Anything from a blonde to a dark roast find its way to the palates of connoisseurs who won’t settle for second best.

My own favourite remains Ethiopian, the truly authentic coffee bean, as that is where Arabica hails from. With a few trees in Yemen, hence the moniker. As Ethiopian is a tad on the pale side as far as colour goes, some prefer a bit of Kenya Blue Mountain or Colombian blended in. I would suggest a bit of Rwandan for that spiciness as well.

Anthony has his own secret blend that will make the sweetest love to your taste buds. A cup you won’t forget as long as you are alive.

We have been visiting Anthony’s since around 2007 and became part of a close-knot family of regulars. There is a parliamentarian, a civil engineer, a few film actors, an architect, professional photographers.  Uncle Bobby makes his pilgrimage every Friday; he is a photographer with 55 years experience and originally from St Helena!  Another gent who can hardly walk, cycles in from Diep River once weekly for his “fix.” Riedwaan is there for his cup when the doors open at 7AM. Musicians, painters, poets and authors meet to solve the many issues of the country over a cup of the finest. If only government would bug the shop and take good advice from the regulars…….we have answers to every problem!  Trust me.

You can order honest light snacks at ridiculously low prices, such as non-pretentious cheese & tomato toasted sandwich plus a coffee at just R25!  You won’t get a leaf of coriander or paprika to garnish your meal but you will enjoy eating what is served.  Or, for variety, Tuna & Mayo toast with coffee at R25.

There even is a September special of R12 per cup of coffee!   And the very best freshly ground at just R180 per kilo!

Visiting Anthony’s Golden Cup at 59 Loop Street, Cape Town, is a cultural experience. To just step back in time, experience coffee in the way we did fifty years ago is something really special. You won’t get this anywhere else and it won’t be here forever, so take the trouble to come and experience the very best. Although they open at 7AM, we love the late afternoons between 3-5PM when Anthony usually is there himself. In the mornings, he makes deliveries or go out to the farm to roast, but he is in the shop during late afternoons.

Come share in real-life history!

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Future Leaders visit to learn about coffee.  Photo by Pete.

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Prime Arabica from Ethiopia – as original as coffee can ever be.  Photo by Pete.

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The Best Coffee in Cape Town … or Africa!

We arrived here this morning to find a school group learning to do street photography. The pupils were also introduced to the very best Arabica coffee, rated as the best in Africa, by many international connoisseurs.

Here is what others say…..

Google review of Anthony’s Golden Cup Coffee Shop by Bobby Watts

https://goo.gl/maps/dqe6wvGzqcz

Abuse

She is the wife of state president in Africa. It is August, Women’s Month – a great time for a first lady to hit a chambermaid with a kettle chord. What an un-Grace-ful act that was; will the women’s rights activists please rise?

I live amid a lot of verbal and emotional abuse. If I had to keep record of every negative comment, insult, rude remark, I would be a busy man indeed. It is stupefying to see the abuse hurled at men, at other drivers, at bosses, colleagues, family or friends. It is violent even if not physical.

A charismatic Christian counselor recently said, repeatedly, that all men are immature and cannot deal with their issues or get angry when confronted. I am not sure that she is capable of taking any form of constructive criticism herself, though. See, one cannot dish out what you cannot take yourself.

My own idea is that men are much more mature and usually aren’t even bothered by the little things that upset most women. Men aren’t blind to their environment but would generally only respond to what really matters.

I am also blessed, being married to a pioneer spirit, a strong pillar, a really upright woman with the kindest, softest heart. We hardly ever argue and, after thirty years of marriage, we are still madly in love. The Lord blessed me with the absolute best, others have to make do with second. Yes, she is the soft, strong queen of my heart. Homemaker, entrepreneur, artist, miracle worker, motherly and spiritual. Yes, the wife of Proverbs 31 shares my space.

In this month when abuse against women is often the topic of discussion, I would like to present another angle to this. Why not, for spicing things up, debate abuse, verbal or otherwise, by women?

Why not talk about abusive women who hit their boys because of their anger at grown men? Women who lay the foundation of having boys growing up to beat their wives – because of the resentment they may have for abusive women. In such a case, issues needing to be dealt with, but who will have the discerment to understand what it is about?

How many man withdraw into themselves, into sports, man caves or even pornography – just to avoid having to deal with the sharp tongue of an ungodly, abusive woman? As such abuse is evidence of the absence of the Spirit of God. Like Eve in the garden, the seeds of the Antichrist showing its vulgar head.

It is August. A cabinet minister hit women at a nightclub. We don’t know the full story, we don’t know what they did. What we do know is that he was at least mature enough to apologise and resign from his office.

Apart from my own wife, I have very seldom seen a woman mature enough to be accountable, accept responsibility. I was ridiculed and bullied on social media by the premier of my province and she refused to apologise when proven wrong.

I really think that society could afford taking a closer look at the abusive nature of the feminine types around us, see how they can hit at men in so many ways, only to turn and gloat in playing victim.

Several men had been arrested on false charges lain by women and perhaps government should start prosecuting them for perjury. It will teach a few Eves to behave and not use brute force to assault men.

In the work situation, two thousand men work together in harmony – as a former career soldier, I have seen it. I have also seen and experienced the abusive of women in the workplace. In a professional workspace, I have seen one woman hit a pregnant colleague in the bellow, resulting in an aborted foetus. Yes, they can talk about afterbirth while eating cake or discussing the intimate specifics of a period while having dinner! That is gross, gross, gross.

The first lady sought diplomatic immunity while being brazen enough to show her face at an international summit, same as my own premier who is not even ashamed after having been disgraced in public after something stupid she said on Twitter.

It is still August and it is still a disGrace.

Let the real women remove the Fake Eve from society. She has overstayed her welcome.

 

Dam Empty

December 2015 was the hottest and driest in over a century. When one has grown up in a family of civil engineering constructors, dam builders at that, water awareness is in your bone marrow.  Warnings about a severe drought coming was ignored because the political leaders don’t listen to people.  In the process, the very lives of roughly four million people, also the economy that sustains them, have been placed at risk. A potential humanitarian crisis in the making.  I see this neglect as irresponsible and bordering upon criminal – to me, it makes Apartheid look small.

Our water reserves – the safe kitty in the life bank – was splurged on luxuries, not essential needs. Our leaders, in their acute ignorance, defied logic by letting dams run dry while there was a very clear pattern of reduced rainfall.

I so many times drove through poorer suburbs and saw how people collected water from a central tap, then leaving it wide open while purified drinking water was running down the streets, the next person carrying a plastic container still many metres away.  Be it such a water waster or the wealthy person watering the air above his lawn, wastage is wastage and a senseless act.

As I child, sitting quietly listening to conversations of the adults, afforded me a fairly good general knowledge and an understanding of how life works. Sadly, children are given electronic games and sent to play on their own, removing society’s corporate IQ from the next generations. Perhaps this is why senior officials of the City of Cape Town pardoned themselves by stating “there was no way that we could see this crises coming.”

Of course, they were so very wrong! The signs were very clear yet they lacked the insight of traditional wisdom.  City people who don’t understand nature. Scientists sometimes don’t see what basic people living close to nature, do.  To the latter, it comes natural, as they are experienced observers of natural trends. For example, scientists don’t understand why whales do “tail hopping” yet common fishermen do. In the same way, even farm hands saw the drought coming but, even in 2017, Cape Town Executive Mayor, Patricia De Lille, said that there was “no crisis.”

A tad over four million people live in the Western Cape of South Africa. Not just the City of Cape Town, but those living in rural areas also make use of water from, for instance, Vogelvlei Dam.

Coming from a culture where one stood upright in a bowl and washed down with a jug, where cars were sometimes dusted and not washed, toilets were only flushed when solids were deposited it has always been hard to see how water was wasted in suburbia. Water sprinklers on lush lawns, with taps opened too wide, maybe also with the usual wind blowing, up to ninety percent of that water ended up in the atmosphere!

Purified drinking water get used to flush toilets and water gardens. So many homes have swimming pools. Then, Cape Town’s water comes from mountains fairly far away from the city. When it rains in Cape Town, it doesn’t necessarily also rain in the catchment areas of our major dams.  These are:

  • Theewaterskloof  (a dam my late grandpa envisioned and proposed, planned but it was built after his death)
  • Vogelvlei Dam that also provides water to much of the Swartland and West Coast
  • The two Steenbras Dams
  • Wemmershoek Dam
  • Berg River Dam

The general level of ignorance as far as understanding water is concerned, is astounding. It seems that people show very little interest in their life-giving water and just assume there is much more, out there, somewhere.

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Section of Theewaterskloof Dam, July 11, 2017 – Photo credit P. Louw

Large expanses of where water used to dominate, now meet the eye. People are fooled into thinking there is no problem when they, as we did on June 9, 2017, drive across the Theewaterskloof Dam wall and see some water. To the untrained eye, it looks fairly good but then the observers most likely don’t know what the dam should have looked liked if much fuller.  As water flows into the dam, water levels don’t only go higher but also much, much wider. As hundreds of hectares now lie exposed, imagine the volume of water presently not in the dams.

The sand is too wet to be dredged out at this stage, as it forms an aquifer that also holds in water and protect it from evaporation.  Even deepening the dams won’t resolve anything, for these reasons:

  • The inlet to the water pipe is at a fixed height and water below that level simply cannot flow into it. The pipeline gravitates into a tunnel which cannot be lowered, so there would be no way to lift that quantity of water into the pipeline.
  • It would remove the sand holding the last bit of water
  • Moving that amount of earth would take many years, time we don’t have
  • Where will the mountain of soil be taken to?

Many people have arguments about water, but here is what needs to be done:

  • Ban the many swimming pools, lush gardens and car washes
  • Create a parallel system and use treated waste water for use in gardens, toilets, etc., while drinking water is supplied separately.
  • Step up water savings projects, in so many homes leaking toilet valves, etc., waste millions of litres of water per day. Go from house to house and cut off water where wastage is encountered, be totally strict.  Instill in people a fear as it is too easy to pay a fine.
  • We have the ocean around us, desalination for industrial use is much cheaper than producing drinking water; provide much of the drinking water from the Atlantic ocean that surrounds Cape Town and beyond.
  • Use aquifers but bear in mind that these will also dry up in the end.
  • There is no guarantee of ample rain; indications are that more drought is to come. Teach children at school, at tertiary level, educate the public. Inspire people to become water wise. Educate, educate, educate.
  • Policing water usage has never been done effectively; we need to see radical change in this.

About the springs and rivulets around the city, a Facebook user was advised as follows by the City of Cape Town (reprinted with permission.)

“Please be advised that the City has been aware of these springs off the Table Mountain range and has been utilising some of them in various forms for decades. The City is currently applying to the National Government to use these springs more extensively, and if this application to further harness these springs is successful, they will be used to offset the demand on our potable water resources, for the benefit of all residents.

In addition to further exploring options to utilise the springs around Table Mountain, the City has been studying the deep aquifer underlying the Cape Folded Mountain Belt (which essentially runs from Vanrhynsdorp to Mossel Bay) for more than 10 years to determine the best possible sites to be able to extract water viably and with minimal impact on the environment. This water will be abstracted to augment the potable water supply. We are nearing the end of the exploratory phase and are about to enter the pilot phase which will help us identify and confirm the locations and design of future production wellfields. The City chose to adopt a precautionary approach to the project in order to ensure that the integrity of the environment was not compromised. The allegation that ‘the municipality is sitting on this resource and busy arranging business interests to take over the management of some of these springs for private gain’ is pure fiction. The National Department of Water and Sanitation is the custodian of our country’s water resources, and ultimately decides on how water resources can and should be used by municipalities, agriculture and all other users of water.

The claim that harnessing this spring water could have prevented the water crisis is also unsubstantiated. The City’s studies show that the yield from these springs is not enough to offset the current drought. For example, the Oranjezicht spring source (mentioned in the post) flows out at approximately 2,77 million litres every 24 hours. However, this varies according to the season. Unrestricted peak summer demand from the City’s residents is currently approximately 1,05 – 1,15 billion litres per day. In order to preserve our water over the coming summer, we need to reduce this to 800 million litres per day – a reduction of 250 – 350 million litres. As such, even if the water from these springs had been licensed, it would not have made a significant difference. The suggestion that there is no ‘real’ water crisis is not true, and is very irresponsible during the current severe drought being experienced in the Western Cape and other parts of the country, in which the successful adherence to water restrictions is critical to ensure that our water supplies are protected. Thank you.”

We really need to start taking our water seriously and become educated on this subject.

Anthony’s Golden Cup

Anthony’s Golden Cup is an established purveyor of the finest coffee beans, freshly ground or that refreshing cup of coffee that had made him owner Anthony Swartz world-renowned.

Cape Town never afford the resident or visitor a dull moment. There always is a new discovery to be made or, sometimes, a hidden gem to be found. Such a gem is my dear old friend since eleven years ago, Mr Anthony Swartz.

Having grown up at #Kylemore near #Stellenbosch, Anthony has since settled in the greater #CapeTown and he has been in #coffee since 1963.

At age 79, Anthony is most likely the oldest serving #barista in Cape Town. He declines calling himself by that title yet he is an expert in knowledge about coffee – and also tea! He only sells the choicest #Arabica coffee beans, or ground to order and no Robusta is allowed in his little store at 59 on Loop Street, Cape Town.

Anthony’s Golden Cup has been the stage of various film shoots. Also, he has an established clientele internationally and we often see old friends arriving, GPS in hand. Having placed Anthony’s Golden Cup on Google Maps does help customers find him, as many forget where they last saw him. Do not underestimate the value of GoogleMaps.

As far as we could establish, Anthony was the first non-white commercial coffee roaster in Cape Town. His coffees are authentic and he does support the African farmers from many countries. Therefore, if it is the BEST coffee you need, Anthony’s has been rated as the best in Africa several times, also by in flight-magazines of international airlines, etc. But is that important? My nose regularly guides me to his front door and yet another special coffee or cappuccino finds its way down.

Do yourself an immense favour and go visit Anthony at https://goo.gl/maps/4JWyq68DLYU2 and be sure to send him my regards. Click on the link for lovely photographs as well!

To whet your appetite, here are a few.

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Magic Carpet Ride on The Blue Train

Our reservations were confirmed via email and we were also sent Guest Information Forms to complete and return to the friendly bookings officer. They ensure that they can contact your next-of-kin or anticipate medical conditions, food allergies, etc. Special dietary requirements are taken care of individually. Impressive efficiency.

A few days later, we made our way to The Blue Train Lounge where butlers awaited is, greeting us friendly, welcoming us to The Blue Train, while taking care of our luggage. A soft carpet bearing The Blue Train’s logo led us into the lounge, where we were registered at the Concierge Desk, by two very friendly and helpful ladies. We then were invited to take our seats in the plush lounge area, tastefully decorated.

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A gentleman called Collen appeared and offered us coffee or juice, or we could have had some sparkling wine if we so desired. Soon, the ever friendly F&B Manager Leon came to greet us; we have met before as this wasn’t our first journey on The Blue Train. Also, Financial Manager of The Blue Train, Mr Francois Geldenhuys, came to greet us as also he was no stranger. Friendly faces, a hearty welcome. Africa is renowned for its hospitality; The Blue Train certainly is a window to the soul of Africa.

We were the first to arrive and had a second coffee while guests trickled in – our own group consisted of six guests including my wife and I. Our journey would be short as we were here to expose stakeholders from the tourism industry to the superlative service on board The Blue Train. Next to arrive was Siphelo Guwa, a videographer who agreed to film our journey – this also wasn’t his first experience of The Blue Train, having been part of a film production team on board this magnificent train some time prior. The social media marketing guru’s arrived next. They are Marinda Holtzhausen and Marius De Vos of Cape Town Bookings, who also own the contracts to market various regions of the Western Cape. Finally, Richard Valentine of the Fish Hoek Valley Museum joined our group. He is involved in promoting tourism in the South Peninsula and is an accredited tour guide as well.

By the time that all guests had arrived, we were formally welcomed to The Blue Train, by Train Manager Lethabo Vilikazi. She explained the “house rules” and then we were taken in groups by our assigned butlers to our suites. Our butler was Angela; she was our butler on our first journey as well and there was a good reunion with this impressive lady.

I made my way to the Observation Car at the rear, hoping to take video footage of our departure from Cape Town Station. Great was my surprise when I noticed that we were already under way. The movement of the train only became perceptible as speed gradually increased. Table Mountain, followed by Devil’s Peak, sailed past like silent ships on the ocean.

Of course, our group are all active on social media and we took to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter almost right away – and a little frenzy ensued. Before long, the shock and surprise of friends elsewhere made room for their inquiries: “How do we book to travel on The Blue Train?”

She gracefully wafted through the northern suburbs of greater Cape Town, found her way through the vineyards, orchards and dairy farms until we slipped past Simonsberg to the right, Paarl rock to our left, where wider spaces welcomed us with open arms as we skirted the edges of the Swartland, home to wheat and sheep farms. We passed a few Anglo-Boer War blockhouses and the wind turbines at Gouda, from where the train made her spectacular passage through the Nuwekloof en route to the Wamakers Valley and the Witzenberg range of Tulbagh, on to Wolseley where we soon crossed the Breede River, flanked by two more of the historical British blockhouses.

Guests indulged in an array of snacks and treats, to suite even the most discerning palate. Even so, it soon was time for brunch, something we sincerely enjoyed as Master Chef Bobbie Wessels and his team are renowned for performing magic in the kitchen. Already, a less opulent cousin of The Blue Train goes by the hashtag #GoodFoodTrain. What shall we call this delightful dining experience, progressing almost imperceptibly yet at 56 MPH across the southern reaches of Africa. I have thought of the title #GlamTrain but, then again, the timeless class of this train is more of an understated thoroughbred.

I will rather show you photos of our meals as words won’t do justice. My crumbed Camembert with Cranberry Sauce was followed by a hearty soup and then the main course arrived, beef sirloin hiding a little blue rock cheese surprise to tantalise the taste buds. During all this time, our eyes feasted on the beautiful Boland mountains, vineyards, we passed Sedgwicks, home of the famous Old Brown Sherry as well as no less than five different brandies. Wine cellars, horses, farmsteads passed us silently as we enjoyed our dessert – mine was a sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. All too soon, our journey came to and end at Worcester, where we were given lovely certificates of remembrance and a rather nice ballpoint pen each, with The Blue Train’s logo inscribed on it. We thanked and greeted Lethabo and David – he is the manager in charge of the bedroom suites.

Our magic carpet ride was over and we made our way back to #LoveCapeTown

Insolence

Yesterday, we were parked opposite the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town. I parked in such a way that I could easily get out of the parking, with the rear of the little Polo almost on the edge of the parking space. I do this because I have a problem with my neck, following an injury on one of the city’s new busses, some time ago. I don’t want to crane my neck as I almost always have a terrible headache ever since.

Suddenly, a young female (the term “lady” would be overtly generous) drove in with her scooter, parked it sideways in front of the car, leaving me no space to exit. Even before I could get out of the car, she disappeared from sight. By the time my wife had returned from her shopping, the scooter driver was still missing.

Note: it was in my demarcated parking space that she had intruded. Also, I paid for that parking and, if I had to stay for longer, I would have had to pay even more. We are not wealthy people, me living with disability. I also do not own the car and object to an added risk of possible damage, as was quite real in this case.

I started searching in nearby stores and asked if anyone knew where the scooter driver was. In one store, a young female admitted that it was her scooter. I politely asked her to remove it so that I could leave. That is where things started going south. Already in the wrong in terms of traffic law as well as moral principles, she found it necessary to chirp at me, telling me there was enough space.

As I am a retired soldier, we have our way to deal with obstacles, so I gave her a choice to remove it her way or I could remove it my way. I then left and went into the car. She came out, followed by a white male with graying hair, who came and banged at the car’s window. He also obstructed my path by standing in front of the car as I had tried to drive off. I nearly missed him.

This is typical of the arrogance we see in Cape Town and, with seven traffic officers to a shift in a city with over four million people, imagine the chaos on our roads!

When I reported this to the City of Cape Town, they were unhelpful, as usual.

Recently, a march was held to try oust the State President. Most South Africans have become arrogant, insolent and self-righteous. They do as they please and turn on anyone opposing their bad ways. It gets blamed on the President, on the blacks, on the ruling party, while nobody else seems to want to take responsibility for their own lives.

And the City of Cape Town will forward my complaint to the relevant department, where it will disappear and be forgotten. Nothing will change, as little or nothing had changed for the better over the past decade.

Then I am in the wrong for getting angry at this?

Within an hour, a similar situation presented itself; I am on the case of the errant driver, he was reported to his bosses as well as to the Traffic Department. And I was smart enough to post his picture on social media.

Since Cape Town cannot police its own streets, we citizens will need to step in and restore order ourselves. Perhaps time has come for a national traffic department that will have teeth.