Taste cof­fee at best cafe in the world

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

IT’S flat­ter­ing the rest of the world thinks so highly of Cape Town. Our Mother City con­sis­tently tops the charts as a travel desti­na­tion and the Tele­graph (UK) ranks our very own Truth Cof­fee Roast­ery as its num­ber one.

“There are few cafes in the world as stun­ning as Truth, a steam­punk-in­spired ar­ti­san cof­fee shop filled from top to bot­tom with metal pip­ing and quirky old ma­chin­ery,” it says.

Cof­fee is taken se­ri­ously, from the roast­ing of the beans to what ar­rives in your cup. It can be enough sim­ply to go there for the per­fectly brewed es­presso or flat white – no su­gar re­quired – but afi­ciona­dos can take it one step fur­ther with a guided “cup­ping” with owner David Donde.

“Cup­ping is the ba­sic build­ing block of roast­ing,” he told me. Donde asked me what I thought light roast and dark roast mean and frankly, I haven’t a clue, ex­actly. I’ve known Donde for years and it al­ways feels as if I cause him great per­sonal pain with my ig­no­rance. Floun­der­ing, I said I imag­ined a dark roast would be a stronger cof­fee, and a light one would be weaker. “Yes, that is the con­sen­sus,” he said. Thank heav­ens. Not a com­plete im­be­cile then. Wrong. “That’s the bulls** t,” said Donde bluntly. He ex­plained the cof­fee flavour comes from a process called carameli­sa­tion; the longer it is roasted the more it browns and the more flavour it gets. But even­tu­ally it will burn, get bit­ter, and lose its flavour. If in turn the beans are not roasted suf­fi­ciently, they will not be fully de­vel­oped and will taste sour or be as­trin­gent. The happy medium is roast­ing to per­fec­tion and to de­ter­mine this, it must be tasted.

En­ter the cup­ping. It’s the world’s sim­plest sys­tem says Donde: 15g of ground cof­fee, 190ml hot wa­ter (70ºC), stand for four min­utes. Just like that – no ma­chin­ery in­volved. The elim­i­na­tion of brew­ing, fil­tra­tion, milk and su­gar – which con­fuse ev­ery­thing – this is how a stan­dard cup­ping is done.

There is a process of smelling the cof­fee be­fore and after break­ing the bub­bles on top of the cof­fee. This fol­lowed by scoop­ing some in a spe­cial cup­ping spoon and slurp­ing it nois­ily. “We score the cof­fee – flavour, sweet­ness, body, mouth feel, all these kinds of things – and then we go one fur­ther. We use TDS,” said Donde. “To­tal dis­solved solids.” This is mea­sured with a re­frac­tome­ter, which is some­thing to do with light bend­ing through the cof­fee and de­ter­mines com­par­a­tive sol­u­bil­ity which in turn af­fects how well flavours are ex­tracted. The more sol­u­ble, the better.

Truth Cof­fee Roast­ery, 36 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town is open daily, and hosts events from vin­tage mar­kets to live mu­sic. Call 021 200 0440 or see www.truth­cof­fee.com.

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