Last Updated on April 6, 2021
After an exhausting flight that felt never-ending, I wake up to the pilot saying a few magical words I had been waiting eleven months to hear again — “We are beginning our descent into Cape Town and we will land in about 35 minutes.” My ears instantly perked up because that meant I was getting closer and closer to going to one of the many amazing coffee shops in Cape Town.
I am finally back in my absolute favorite city! I’ve traveled to over fifty countries and hundreds of cities prior to visiting Cape Town, but I’ve never fallen so hard for another city so much. This city makes me feel a way I’ve never felt before. I feel more alive than ever here. There’s something about the rugged coastline, epic sunsets, and city vibes that inspire me to chase my dreams and goals and to never settle for anything less than an extraordinary life.
Exhausted from the thirty-eight-hour travel time and jet lag, I stumbled to the nearest coffee shop from my Airbnb. As I sipped on my hazelnut latte, I was reminded of how amazing the coffee culture is in Cape Town. I made it a goal to visit a few new coffee shops per week for the next few weeks. This was an easy goal to accomplish because nothing makes me happier than exploring hidden gems in Cape Town and trying local coffee.
I spent the next few months on a caffeine high from all of the amazing coffee I was trying. I even challenged myself to find a bad cup of coffee. I failed at my challenge because a bad cup of coffee doesn’t exist in Cape Town.
Flat whites, iced lattes, pour-overs, nitro brews, and more, Cape Town’s coffee culture is robust. Whether you find your cuppa in an Instagrammable cafe, a hole in the wall, or just a small neighborhood coffee shop, each cup will leave you in awe. You’ll understand why there’s a love affair between coffee and Cape Town and why Cape Town is one of the best cities in the world to get your coffee fix.
History of Coffee Culture in Cape Town
Once upon a time, Cape Town’s caffeine of choice was tea, not coffee. After all, South Africa was settled by the English (after it was settled by the Dutch) – and we all know that England is known for its steaming hot cups of tea.
For hundreds of years, tea stayed on top of the caffeinated beverage market in Cape Town. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until a little over a decade ago when entrepreneurs realized this gap in the market and the coffee industry finally started to gain some steam.
Coffee Culture in Cape Town Today
Between 2006 and 2016, coffee culture in Cape Town exploded. While in 2006 there were only 20 coffee roasteries in all of South Africa, a decade later there were over 100 of them!
And Cape Town coffee lovers aren’t going to take your regular old cup of Starbucks. They look for the best beans, the best blends, the best roasts, the best brews, and the best overall cup of delicious coffee. It’s a full coffee experience. As a matter of fact, many Cape Town coffee shops happen to have a little something extra to enhance the appeal, whether that’s a unique vibe or a barista class. In other words, there’s a very good chance that you’ll get a delicious cup of coffee in Cape Town.
The 9 Best Coffee Shops in Cape Town
Truth Coffee Roasting
All of the lists of the best coffee shops in Cape Town are sure to include Truth Coffee Roasting. This steampunk-inspired coffee shop embraces a cool, funky vibe with its vintage coffee roaster, shiny copper booths, and employees in steampunk uniforms.
As for the coffee itself, you can get all of your favorite types from flat whites to pour-over coffees. And you can choose from a variety of in-house roasted coffee blends, including the popular Resurrection Blend, the intriguing Deep, Dark, & Twisted, and the aptly named Antithesis (which is decaf coffee).
If you’re extremely interested in coffee, you can actually take a barista class at Truth Coffee Roasting.
Origin Coffee Roasting
Origin Coffee Roasting’s name is particularly appropriate, as it was one of the first high-quality coffee shops in the city. Along with Truth Coffee Roasting, Origin Coffee Roasting tops the list of best places to get coffee in Cape Town. Origin roasts over fifty single-origin coffees per year in addition to their seasonal espresso blends!
Established in 2006 by Joel Singer, his vision was to bring high-quality coffee from around the world to South Africans. To this day, those high-quality standards have stuck around.
With the finest coffee beans, the artisan roasting process, and the award-winning baristas, there’s no question of why. And just about everyone in town – from businesspeople to freelance writers to travelers – knows this and can be found within Origin’s rustic warehouse-like walls.
You can even visit the Origin headquarters in De Waterkant in Cape Town and get a full hands-on experience. You’re able to meet the artisans, watch the roasting process, and taste a fresh cup of coffee.
One of the coolest things about Origin is that they founded a barista academy and have successfully trained over 3,000 baristas in Africa.
If you’re the kind of person who needs a couple of strong shots of espresso to get you up in the morning, Haas Coffee may be the Cape Town coffee shop for you. Home to the strongest coffee in the world, Haas Coffee is certainly not for the faint of heart.
While the Blank Insomnia blend is what gifted Haas Coffee with its superlative, the casual caffeine consumer will be pleased with their milder blends including the many single-origin beans. You can order coffee from Indonesia, Jamaica, Ethiopia, and everywhere in between.
As for the overall vibe of Haas Coffee, the geometric shapes and metallic touches are reminiscent of an Art Deco style. And this coffee shop just so happens to appeal to quite an artsy crowd. It’s not uncommon to see graphic designers, freelance writers, advertising executives, and up-and-coming artists getting some work done at this South African coffee shop.
The origin of Rosetta Roastery is not at all like the other coffee shops on this list. This coffee shop was actually founded by three members of an African Nu Metal band who didn’t make it big time in the music world. So where did their passions shift? You guessed it: to coffee.
Rosetta Roastery specializes in single-origin coffees. You can get your beans from Malaysia to Columbia to Kenya. And then the owners of Rosetta Roastery recommend that you treasure your cup of coffee. Rather than downing it like medicine to survive your hectic day, savor the subtle notes of flavor while simultaneously getting your caffeine boost.
Surprisingly, it’s the staff that helps to set the Rosetta Roastery apart from the dozens of other coffee shops in town. From their friendly greetings, once you step in the front door to their seemingly omniscient knowledge of coffee, the Rosetta Roastery employees are certainly noteworthy.
Tribe Coffee Foundry Café & Roastery
Tribe Coffee Foundry Café & Roastery has two locations in Cape Town: one in trendy Woodstock and one in the bustling city center. And while both serve up delicious cups of coffee, just about everyone recommends going to the Woodstock location, if you have the choice.
While the city center location has a sleek, professional atmosphere, the Woodstock location of Tribe Coffee Foundry Café & Roastery has a relaxed, almost surfer-like vibe to it. Take in the bright green trees, inviting pale blue exterior, and bright pop art.
As for the coffee itself, this South African coffee shop is known for its Malawi Gold Blend, a blend of beans from all across Africa. But the Sunday Morning At Empire Café Blend, the Espresso Blend, and the Guatemala Chocolate Block Blend are all popular options as well.
Bean There Coffee Company
Bean There Coffee Company is another one of those Cape Town coffee shops committed to single-origin blends. In fact, it’s South Africa’s first roaster of fair-trade coffee. Taste the flavors of Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And all of these beans come from the best farmers Bean There Coffee Company could find.
And this high-quality coffee is served in Bean There Coffee Company’s adorable little café. With colorful lampshades, shelves full of coffee-inspired knickknacks, and even an antique bicycle hanging on the wall, Bean There Coffee Company’s Cape Town location certainly has a one-of-a-kind atmosphere.
Espresso Lab Microroasters
Espresso Lab Microroasters is the most unique coffee shop in Cape Town and has been roasting coffee since 2009. Situated at the Old Biscuit Mill, Espresso Lab Microroasters certainly lives up to its science-inspired name. You’ll feel like you’re walking onto the set of a science television show. When you walk in, you order off the periodic table-esque menu. If you want a latte, you’ll order “La.” And if you want a cappuccino, that’s “Ca.”
Then, the friendly baristas use actual science beakers to whip together the perfect cup of coffee. This precise, science-inspired pattern is paired with sophisticated coffee methods. Not only can you get your usual French press or cold brew, but you can also try a new method of coffee-making, including Aeropress, Chemex, or V60. The coffee is just as distinctive and memorable as the atmosphere.
It’s no surprise that such a careful coffee shop is also meticulous with the beans that it uses. The owners source the top botanical varieties of coffee beans from farmers all across the globe before being lightly roasted by the Espresso Lab Microroasters team. All that work – from start to finish – makes for a fantastic cup of coffee.
Bootlegger Coffee Company
While most of the best coffee shops in Cape Town only have a location or two, Bootlegger Coffee Company boasts over a dozen locations. Each of the locations has quite a funky vibe with cement floors, a neutral color scheme, and a neon sign featuring the title of a different ACDC song in each store.
As with all of the best coffee shops in the city, Bootlegger Coffee Company is sure to source only the best coffee beans. You can order a cup of coffee with beans from Africa and Central America and have these beans brewed in a wide variety of ways. There’s even a delicious coffee milkshake that’s the perfect way to cool down during a hot South African day.
Bootleggers Coffee Company is also one of the only Cape Town coffee shops with noteworthy food options. Like the coffee beans, the ingredients for the food are thoughtfully sourced – from farm fresh eggs to fresh local produce. So grab a seat, sip on a cup of coffee, devour a tasty bootbun breakfast sandwich, and get to work!
Coco Safar is undoubtedly one of the most lavish coffee shops in Cape Town. As a matter of fact, huge international publications, including Bloomberg and Forbes, have remarked on the high-quality coffee from Coco Safar. And while the coffee is certainly the main highlight, this Cape Town coffee shop serves up a couple of other treats that may pique your interest.
First, Coco Safar works to blend South Africa’s tea-filled past with its coffee-focused present. You can actually try locally grown rooibos tea in cappuccino form at this Cape Town coffee shop. And, as an added bonus, Coco Safar also has an opulent high tea experience with old-fashioned trolleys and contemporary liquid nitrogen-covered desserts.
But you don’t have to go to high tea to delight in some of the delicious treats at Coco Safar. Rather, you can simply purchase fluffy churros, Italian chocolate amaretti cookies, or specialty croissants from the patisserie or confectionary section of this South African coffee shop.
The Cape Town Coffee Festival
I know what you’re thinking. “How am I possibly going to try all of these amazing coffee shops while I’m in Cape Town?” This is actually a good problem to have. There’s an easy solution for this. Plan your trip around the Cape Town Coffee Festival.
This two-day event is held at the Castle of Good Hope and it’s the perfect event for anyone with even the slightest interest in coffee. This festival happens every year and the dates vary each year as well so you’ll have to keep your eye out for the exact dates here.
If you’re not into coffee and your coffee-loving friend or partner is dragging you with them, don’t worry! You can sip on cocktails, try some local food from the food trucks, or jam out while listening to live music while they enjoy their coffee. But, I can assure you that this festival will make you question why you haven’t been indulging in coffee your whole life. Go in with an open mind and try just one cup of coffee. You might even become a coffee addict!
Essentially, you buy a ticket online and you get to taste your way through some delicious coffee from various Cape Town coffee shops. All of the proceeds are donated to charity. You get to drink coffee and help others! What more could you want?!
Coffee shops around the city set up small booths around the castle. You walk up to each booth and the baristas will tell you more about their coffee shop and their process of making their version of a perfect cup of coffee. Some coffee shops let you sample an espresso whereas other coffee shops will make you whatever you want from an iced latte to a flat white.
The key is to take breaks between sampling coffee or you will be very jittery. Trust me on this one. A local warned me and I didn’t take their advice because I thought I was indestructible. Let’s just say that I didn’t sleep at all that night. The most fun thing to do during your breaks to just chat with locals. They love their city and they want you to have a great experience there. They’ll share their best tips and tricks with you and take you under their wing.
After experiencing this festival, you’ll have a newfound love for coffee and a deeper appreciation for the process. The festival will also make you fall more in love with Cape Town and you’ll leave with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Perhaps, it’s the coffee still circulating in your body or it’s your fondness of the city. Either way, you’ll leave Cape Town longing for more of the local coffee and the city itself.
What are some of your favorite coffee shops in Cape Town? Let me know in the comments below!
Don’t forget to read my post about the best things to do in Cape Town!