When it comes to good coffee, Cape Town has an incredible selection that will satisfy the most die-hard coffee snobs – like me. I very rarely drink ‘peasant coffee’, and thanks to all the glorious coffee shops in and around the CBD, I don’t have to.

One of my favourite spots at the moment is Shift Expresso Bar in Green Point. A relatively new kid on the block, Shift has become extremely popular, thanks to its easy atmosphere, great food and of course, outstanding coffee that now can be brewed alternatively.


When I first saw the strange apparatus on the counter, I thought it was just part of the décor. There are two sets; the siphon and Chemex. After reflecting on what cool hacker names these would be, I wondered if alternative brewing made any real difference. I did extensive research (for five minutes on my phone) and decided to try out the siphon.

alternative brew_andrew

The siphon is a Japanese filtration technique. Andrew, my very pleasant barista, looked like he was conducting a chemistry experiment rather than making coffee. I watched as the water evaporated up into the flask, and coffee filtered down. Watching coffee being brewed has never been so fascinating.

When he was done, he handed me the round bottom flask, clamped to a stand. It’s not every day your coffee has a caution sign, and I was a little afraid to pour it myself, in case I damaged the equipment. The flask was piping hot, so I let it cool down while I spoke to Shift’s owner, Luigi Vigliotti.


For Luigi coffee is about people. Introducing the alternative brewing techniques to his shop was a way to offer more to his customers:

‘Alternative Brewing is the future of coffee. It is happening a lot in America and Australia, and soon it will be standard. I found the techniques on the internet. I was looking for new things to add to the store, and this was it. A lot of people who know about alternate brewing go for the siphon. They prefer to drink the coffee as is, but we also serve it over ice or add stuff like caramel to it. Those who are not used it them, choose the Chemex, because it is lighter coffee. It’s been two months since we’ve introduced alternative brewing at Shift and it has become quite popular. People see the coffee being made, and want to try it.’


The moment of truth arrived. I drank it without sugar or milk so I could get the full effect. There was definitely a difference in the taste and feel of the coffee. It was strong, smooth and pure. There were no left-over grounds in the cup, and the flavour was enhanced. There is only a singular set of equipment at the moment, but Luigi is looking to import more and hopefully sell it at Shift.

Coffee lovers, if you haven’t tried alternative brewed coffee yet, you should. It changes the game completely.

When Monday to Sunday 7 am – 6 pm
Where Cape Royal Hotel, 47 Main Road, Green Point
Cost See the menu online
Contact +27 21 433 2450

Photography courtesy Annzra Denita

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