Secret Diner: Mad about the bean
The Secret Diner
Where: 233 Florida Road, Morningside
Open: Monday to Thursday 6.30am to 5pm, Friday to Sunday 6.30am to 8pm
Call: 031 303 3430
This week the secret diner skipped a meal for a coffee tasting. With the launch of the Starbucks reserve collection, only available at the Florida Road branch, the province's top baristas shared their tips and taste profiles using a number of different ways to extract the goodness of the best quality beans.
The range currently includes the Ecuador Pichincha Volcano, from the ideal coastal regions of northern Ecuador’s volcanic region, and a Christman coffee, a blend of costa Rica, aged Sumatra and Sulawesi beans.
First up Pume Nzama, from the Pavilion, and Gift Thole, from uMhlanga, had a little arm wrestle over who produced the best coffee using their favourite methods - Pume the Chemex filter and Gift a French Press.
The Chemex filter produces a very smooth coffee where the delicate top notes of dried fruits and honeysuckle come to the fore, while the French press gives a much more full bodied coffee with distinct guava and mango flavours at the back. As we schlurped our coffees with long sucking noises like the experts do, I voted it a dead heat.
Next up was a new filter machine Starbucks has designed to create filter coffee on demand, not one that’s been sitting on a hot plate for hours. It’s the closest one gets to a coffee expressed under heat and pressure. As Zodwa Mzimande put the machine through its paces with water poured over the ground coffee and grinds blooming up before being spat out and scraped into a separate receptacle, it certainly is dramatic - and the coffee deep and flavourful, stronger than the rest.
Award-winning barista Teddy Nazma did a run through the syphon method which looks more like a science experiment. The water is boiled from a base glass bowl and is forced through a funnel and the coffee into a second glass receptacle. As soon as the heat is removed, the coffee then filters back into the bottom glass bowl without the grinds, which should produce a perfect little cupped mound up top. Delicious and very like a proper espresso.
All the while we were encouraged to taste our coffee with a selection of fresh and dried fruits and herbs to see how these complemented the flavours of the coffee. Certainly a dried peach worked well here.
Cold press, an increasingly popular method of brewing coffee and one that’s so ideally suited to Durban’s warm climate, was up next. And then Teddy poured us one of his signature coffees - a Madagascar vanilla latte. This was vanilla syrup, creamy foamed milk topped with a single espresso, served in a shot glass and drunk through the layers. It was a coffee that won him many friends.
For store manager Siyanda Nondwayi, opening Florida road has been “an amazing journey”. He is enthusiastic about the coffee. “I am not ashamed to say that I have become a coffee snob. I have learned so much about coffee, different brewing methods, how to best enjoy it, the intricacies in the taste profiles, and more, so that if I go into a coffee shop and I see the barista making sub-grade coffee, I change my order to tea.”
He also believes Africa produces the best coffees, but it hasn’t been given the global attention and recognition it deserves. “Our ongoing reserve menu is doing a lot to raise the profile of excellent coffees from our continent,” he said.
Coffee tastings can be booked ahead at the store and might be a fun way to celebrate with a small group of friends in the run-up to Christmas. And with such dynamic baristas, not only are you enjoying great coffee, but you’re being entertained.
And if you just want to taste the Legacy range, Starbucks offers a delicious range of sandwiches, pastries, cakes and nibbles for a light lunch or snack with your brew.
Service: 4 ½
The Independent on Saturday