Monday 14th March 2011 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
After reading about the Haas Coffee Collective on Twitter, and being impressed with how quickly it has created awareness in the two weeks that it has been open, I went to have a cappuccino yesterday. It is a most interesting collective of coffee roastery and coffee shop (Haas Coffee Collective), as well as the Haas Design Collective, with the Haas Communication Collective ad agency upstairs, all trading under the Haas brand. Each Haas business is to interconnect and benefit from the other.
The first wow was when the young black-hatted young man behind the counter welcomed me by name as I entered, being Kent Fourie, who was at school with my son, and moved from Ellerman House to start working at Haas. He told me a little about Haas, and introduced me to Francois Irvine, an artist and interior designer, a partner in the Haas Collective. Francois is in charge of the Haas Design Collective specifically. Glynn Venter, previously a creative director at FCB Draft, is the other co-owner. From the name, I imagined it to have a Dutch owner (perhaps thinking of chef Camil Haas of Franschhoek). Glynn laughed when I asked him about the origin of the name, and he coyly told me that Haas is the name of his favourite soft toy bunny, which he acquired about four years ago at the Old Biscuit Mill, and which accompanies him everywhere he goes, wearing a seatbelt when driving with Glynn in the car, and having a personality all of his own. A felt bunny is on top of an interesting wall-mounted corner unit containing the crockery that they had specially made for the coffee shop, with a fly or an ant printed on each saucer, which causes great amusement as customers try to get rid of the realistic looking insects! I loved the bunny-shaped biscotti that was served with the cappuccino (R18).
The Haas Design Collective, with partner Vanessa Berlein, has been open for a year already, and is Francois’ collection of artworks by a variety of artists that he sells. A few steps down is the new Haas Coffee Collective, which was created when the previous tenant vacated the space. It has lovely weathered-looking beams, and the counter was especially designed by Francois and made from lovely wood, matching the wooden floor. The coffee roasting machine from Germany stands in this space, as do two wooden tables and chairs. One can sit outside at white tables and chairs too, or in the cutest nook off the Design Collective.
The 100 % arabica coffees that the Haas Coffee Collective sells and uses come from Robertson, from ‘Strictly Coffee’, owned by Rensche and Hanno Schwartz. The company has been operating for about five years. Rensche used to work at Distell, and was a client of Glynn’s when he worked at the ad agency.
For their opening PR function, the coffee varieties that are sold by the Haas Coffee Collective were paired with food. For example, Java coffee was matched with brownies; coffee from Guatemala was served with canapes containing citrus. The coffee that has caused a stir on Twitter is Kopi Luwak, which is specially ‘processed’ by the Indonesian Luwak civet, and comes at an extreme cost of R730 for 250g, and R80 per cup, making it the most expensive coffee in the world. Next most expensive is the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, which costs R400 for 250g, or R60 per cup. There are eight coffees in the Haas Coffee Collective, at around R 50 – R 60 per 250g, each with a very quirky name and a different origin, and each is described as if it were a wine:
* The Three Sisters is a blend
* The Famous Jailbird is an Ethiopian roast, “peach and plum are the dominant fruit notes, with hints of mango”
* The Mysterious Gentleman is a roast from Guatemala, with floral notes, a hint of chocolate, caramel and fudge
* The Boxing Club is a Colombian coffee, with “deep red wine tones and of nuts”
* Monday Morning Lift Club is a blend
* The Swimming Club is decaffeinated coffee
After only being open for two weeks, the Haas Collective is expanding to a downstairs space across the road, which will serve as an art gallery for larger works of art. Glynn and Francois are deciding what else to add, either a design studio, or a hot desk, which will allow business persons to use space as an office away from their office, with wifi, much like Café Neo in Mouille Point.
The Haas Communication Collective has only been open for a few days, and has signed up its first clients already. The upstairs space offers two rooms, one having a large lounge attached to it, which will be the meeting space with clients, and will allow them to experience the creative working space in which their ad agency will be creating their campaigns. The Haas Communication Collective has been appointed to handle the communication of the Whisky Live Festival, and will incorporate the Haas Coffee Collective. A coffee and brandy pairing event is planned too. On 25 May an exciting new coffee-related project will be launched, involving “one of the world’s most well-known artists”, Glynn said.
One can have something to snack whilst at Haas, with a small selection of treats offered. Smoked Gypsy ham on ciabatta costs R35, while ciabatta with cheese and vegetables costs R30. Wonderful looking muffins and croissants are also for sale. Iced coffee is available, but does not contain ice cream. Haas has an iced coffee maker, and one of the interesting ingredients added to ice slush is condensed milk!
The Haas Collective is brimming with ideas, and will be a space to watch as it expands its very new empire. Commendable is its Loyalty Card, with one free coffee for every nine bought. The coffee is good too!
POSTSCRIPT 15/10: Haas Collective has moved to 19 Buitenkant Street.
Haas Coffee Collective, Haas Design Collective and Haas Communication Collective, 67 Rose Street, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town. Tel (021) 422-2239. www.haascollective.com. Twitter: @HaasCoffee Monday – Friday 7h00 – 18h00, or until the last patrons have left, and Saturday – Sunday 8h00 – early afternoon, or until the last patrons have left (how refreshing!).
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage