Durban - Creative Coffee Week brewed on Durban’s Point Waterfront this week as some 250 of the country’s leading coffee professionals gathered to celebrate the blossoming coffee culture across the city.
Organiser Iain Evans said the event was to drive local commerce, create employment among the youth and share global insights into the coffee industry. It is sponsored by eThekwini Municipality, FNB, Selati and Innovate Durban.
“For a few years, we at Coffee Magazine have watched coffee industry mature and create its own identity. It has allowed us to connect. We decided it’s time to celebrate the culture and the fantastic people that make up the industry, while looking at ways to carve the South African niche in the global coffee arena.”
Among the gathering were coffee roasters, green bean importers, baristas, and coffee owners as well as international guests to share their expert insights.
The Independent on Saturday attended a coffee roasting competition on Friday where some of the country’s top roasters were given the same set of beans and their efforts were now being judged.
Mel Winter of the Coffee Mag said it was great to give the backroom guys some prominence. “The roaster are all from across the country and they are a crucial part it. We’ve called it a Shot in the Dark - each roaster gets the same coffee - roasts that same coffee and is now being judged anonymously.
“The roasters are so important in the supply chain. The baristas are forward face of coffee but the the roasters are behind the scenes. This is their turn to shine.”
Putting the roasts through the cupping (that’s tasting) test were Lemuel Butler, five-time US Barista Champion and Ben Weiner, owner of Gold Mountain Coffee Growers in Nicaragua, whose beans were being roasted.
Butler grew up in North Colorado and started in the coffee industry “needing a job”.
“I thought I’d be there six months but then I won a regional competition and the prize was a trip to Nicaragua. It put what I was doing in context. I became absorbed.”
Fifteen years later he’s the co-owner of Black & White Roasters and an enigmatic presence in the world’s coffee community.
Winter said the week offered a number of sessions based around green beans and espresso and tools for your coffee business ranging from technology to social media and marketing. Creative Coffee Week culminates in the Coffee Magazine Awards gala dinner at uShaka Marine World tonight which will celebrate excellence and innovation in the coffee industry.
“We want to give cafe owners, baristas and roasters something to aspire to and to celebrate the industry,” said Winter