Text and images by Ryan Enslin
Joburg has some fascinating secret coffee locations, hidden in plain sight around the inner city. Let me present to you a few coffee options for when you’re tired of the mega-brands, and looking for something a little different.
Coco Safar Cafe
This luxury micro-store is located in the heart of Rosebank and is known for its gourmet pastries, artisanal coffee, and unique dining experience. Coco Safar‘s beautiful vintage French-inspired decor takes you to another part of the world.
It offers a wide range of specialty coffee drinks that are made using their own roasted coffee beans, and a selection of quality teas. Its menu boasts delectable light meals, desserts, and pastries, prepared with creativity and quality.
You can buy from their full range of bespoke coffee beans and brew them at home, or spend a morning at the cafe, sipping on cappuccinos and eating their firm favourite chocolate hazelnut croissant.
Also read: 30 Best Things to do in Pretoria
The Joburg Culinary and Pastry School
Just off Commissioner Street, you’ll find a hidden gem in the Joburg Culinary and Pastry School. Housed in what used to be the old Barclays Bank building, gastronomic wonders await you. The grand old banking hall lends itself well to the culinary arts practiced by more than 1 800 students who have passed through this space. The Conception Restaurant is just the place. Pop in Monday to Saturday and be tempted by the delights on offer. Plus, the WIFI is good. I think I’ve found myself a new co-working space for one. A win all round, I’d say.
The restaurant has a great balcony on the first floor overlooking Harrison Street and is just the place for a good cup of coffee. Close your eyes as you take in the hustle and bustle of the city below, and you’ll be forgiven for thinking you were coffee’ing in New York, Paris, or even Tbilisi. Find them at 85 Commissioner Street, Marshalltown.
Did you know that Commissioner Street has been an important street in Joburg since the late 1880s? Originally laid out using ox wagons, it housed the first chemist, Golden Mortar Dispensary, and the first bioscope, the Empire Palace of Varieties. In 1973, the Carlton Centre opened on Commissioner Street, at the time the tallest building in Africa. Today, Commissioner Street hosts Joburg’s own Bus Rapid Transit system, the Rea Vaya. It’s a good thing, as I don’t think these lanes could accommodate oxen in 2021.
The Rand Club
Founded in 1887, the Rand Club has had a rather chequered past in the minds of most Joburgers. Formerly a place of exclusion, the private members club was once only open to monied, white males professing the Christian faith and highly accomplished in the Queen’s English. Back in the day, I would certainly not have been admitted to the club.
But common sense has prevailed upon the club leadership, and the Rand Club is now proudly a collective of members with shared values around community. Race, gender, and creed no longer enter the selection and admission mix as the club actively pursues younger members from across our multi-faceted rainbow nation.
A cup of coffee at the Rand Club Restaurant is the ideal way to take in the history and heritage of Joburg on display all around. Recent renovations following a fire in June 2005 have seen the establishment of a gallery featuring emerging local artists, as the club continues to redefine itself and remain relevant.
The restaurant is located in the Main Bar and open to non-members, boasting the longest bar counter in Africa. This title used to be the longest bar counter in the Southern Hemisphere, but the Aussies came along and mucked that up. The club also boasts the oldest working lift in Joburg, dating back to 1904. I took a ride in it. Find the Rand Club at 33 Loveday Street, Marshalltown.
Did you know the first soccer match in Joburg occurred in Loveday Street? Or that the streets of Joburg were once paved using tailings, a stone-like waste by-product from gold mining. Due to the rudimentary processes of the time, gold particles were found in these tailings and were often stolen to extract it, once the know-how was available.
Ingos Coffee Bar
Ingos Coffee Bar is a family-owned restaurant that opened in 2022. It is a simple coffee bar serving wholesome and high-quality food and drinks. Their ingredients come fresh from local suppliers and farms.
They serve cold and warm beverages, sandwiches, salads, and stunning pastries. The cosy atmosphere of Ingos makes it perfect for a tea-time chat with family and friends, or a morning getting work done with their free WiFi.
You can also buy some of their products to gift to someone special or take home to enjoy.
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