We’re in the middle of winter, and all we want is to keep warm. Coffee is the only thing I can think of that can do the job effectively in public (unlike blankets and heaters that are heavy to carry around) and Department of Coffee is the place to go. What’s exciting is that you can get the same rich quality coffee you might be used to in a completely different setting: the township.
I’m an original township girl, from Motherwell in Port Elizabeth. I’ve been to other townships too, but I am proud to now be staying in Khayelitsha, home to Mother City’s only official township coffee shop. Department of Coffee did something unusual that has the whole city of Cape Town gasping in surprise. Tourists visit the store, get a sense of the black community of Khayelitsha, while also enjoying coffee just the way they like it.
On my visit there, I found photographers taking pictures of the famous shop. The coffee shop works hand-in-hand with Stellenbosch University. The institution takes their tourists and exchange students to the café to experience the township and great coffee. The Department of Coffee really is worth boasting about. They serve all types of coffee, from cappuccinos to lattes, macchiatos to hot chocolate, and light foods such as sandwiches and muffins are also on offer.
When I paid them a visit, I had a chat with one of the founders, Vuyile Msaku. He told me they wanted to do something for their community. Msaku says it is unfair for people in his community to have to travel to the CBD or the suburbs in order to get a good cup of coffee. He says the reason they get so much exposure is because people constantly ask: ‘Why? Why locally?’
Street vendors selling takeaways close-by are Department of Coffee’s regulars. They buy coffee to keep warm, and some just need their caffeine fix. Department of Coffee is in the process of growing their business. They have a branch in Khayelitsha Mall, and branches opening in Philippi Village and Long Street (CBD). The business won’t only be limited to townships, although that is their pride and they plan to keep it.
Where 158 Ntlazane Street, Khayelitsha
Contact +27 78 316 2918
Photography courtesy Asandiswa Msutu