Kitchen-brewed coffee shows robust growth as office coffee plunges.
FEATURE ARTICLE BY CHESNEY BRADSHAW
For coffee lovers no beverage beats the rich aroma of freshly ground coffee beans first thing in the morning. The smell of coffee brewing in a plunger or bean-to-cup machine. The taste of coffee on your palette — perhaps a subtle note of berries with a hint of chocolate.
Before lockdown workers got their jitter-juice from coffee shops on their commute to work or grabbed a cup from the office pause area.
Now after long stays working from home during lockdown, people working from home are brewing their favourite flavours in their kitchens.
Local coffee roasters report that employees working from home are even roasting their own beans.
Kirsten van Jaarsveld, owner of Ryo Coffee, based in Cape Town, has seen an increase in home-brew roasted coffee sales.
Bean and machine sales are up at Ryo Coffee. “We’ve found a definite increase in home purchasing,” says Van Jaarsveld.
“People are trying out of variety of roasted coffees at home,” she says. “They’re taking more pride in their home-made coffee. But I’m not sure how long it will continue when more people go back to work.”
Ryo Coffee offers a roasting guide on their website for home education on roasting. People can roast their own beans at home in 15 to 20 minutes in a pan.
The famous composer Beethoven was compulsive about his coffee. He started each day by counting out sixty coffee beans and grinding them. He certainly didn’t have the range of coffees available today to suit many different tastes: chocolate, cherry, blueberry flowery, herbal and nutty flavours or combinations.
A roaster in Blairgowrie, Randburg, who opened during the lockdown reports a big increase in sales to work-from-home buyers.
“We’ve seen an increase in customers buying coffee for home use because many are working from home during the lock-down,” says Francois du Plessis, owner of Roasties88.
He notes that business with coffee shops and corporates has fallen dramatically since the lockdown restrictions.
Before the Covid-19 lock-down coffee shops buzzed with morning commuters enjoying a cup before work. Coffee shops were packed with workers holding meetings or tapping at their laptops. Many of these coffee shops have closed. Coffee shops around the high-rise office buildings in Sandton and Rosebank, for example, enjoy a trickle of customers.
Those workers who went straight to the office began their day at the pause area making machine coffee. They would take their favourite coffee mug — with motivational quotes or smiley faces — to their workstations. They’d open their laptops, stare at the screen, sip their coffee and be charged enough to plunge into their overflowing email inbox.
Filter coffee was freely available in meeting rooms. Mass-produced coffees with fancy European names jettisoned their loads from large automatic machines. The taste of this coffee appealed to most tastes but a growing band of connoisseurs brought their own coffee and plungers. Teams shared costs for fancy Italian-made bean-to-cup machines.
With the lockdown corporate coffee consumption has plunged. The loosening of lockdown restrictions with more workers returning to offices hasn’t helped corporate sales, according to roasters.
“We’ve experienced a huge decrease in corporate demand,” says Tertia Pretorius of Crater Coffees, also a roaster and owner of a coffee shop in Parys, Free State. “But sales of coffee for brewing at home have increased because many people are not working from offices.” She says household online orders for ground coffee have increased.
Kitchen brewing may slow down with further loosening of restrictions as more workers return to work. But now that coffee lovers have broadened their tastes during the lockdown they might find it hard to go back to the machine-made stuff.