Restaurant Review: Excellent coffee at Folk Coffee Anthropology, food could improve!

imageIt was a quiet Human Rights Day when I drove along Bree Street from one end to the other, to update my Blogpost about Cape Town’s famous food street, and saw a board outside Folk Coffee Anthropology, signaling that it was open.

Owner Laurence Heald welcomed me inside, and explained the imagebackground to his coffee shop, which opened six weeks ago. His family has run a roastery Espresso Concepts from Johannebsurg for 25 years, and Laurence has been sent to Cape Town to head up the Cape coffee sales. He has a small batch roastery on the property, and they sell their coffee from the coffee shop too, while their distribution and admin centre is in Paarden Eiland. Laurence’s wife is a psychologist, and studied Anthropology as one of her subjects. She chose the name for the coffee shop, in that coffee speaks to many different people, and not just to ‘hipsters‘. The business card describes the coffee shop as ‘food, coffee, people, space & place’.

imageThe decor is quirky, with weathered and antique but updated metal chairs, a bicycle fifty years or older hung on the wall, and new tables with wooden tops all being sourced coincidentally from Napier. A wall unit contains coffee machines, a collection of coffee cups, and an old coffee grinder hangs on the wall. Some tables are standard, imageothers are bar height. On the table are a ceramic holder with a cactus, a candle, a Robertsons Atlantic Sea Salt grinder, a Bidvest black pepper grinder, and a holder of sugar sticks. A bar counter has a raw back wall facing customers. The ceiling is
painted black, and the colour ‘hides’ the piping. Red is used as a contrast colour, with piping and lamp wiring in this colour, as is a wall tiled in imagethis colour at the bar. Coffee tastings with new retail customers are done at the coffee shop, and I suggested that consumer educational tastings could be interesting.

The professionalism of Folk Coffee Anthropology comes through when I did not have to explain to imageLaurence how I like the dry cappuccino (R26), and it was served in a large cup, more like a mug, having ordered a double shot, and hence the proportion of milk and coffee had to be correct, something I have never experienced before.  A single shot is served in a standard cup size. It was one of the best cappuccinos I have ever drunk, and I have at least one daily!

The menu explains that their food is ‘hand crafted‘, made with ‘love’, and from scratch. They use the ‘highest quality, ethical, free range ingredients, that are sourced, where possible, from local suppliers‘. They write that they ‘have a passion for the good things in life’, offering ‘wholesome food, the best coffee, great wine, diverse people and the experiential nature of the space and place you choose to enjoy them in‘.  Muffins cost R18; croissants R25 with butter and preserves, with cheese and tomato charged at R35, and with scrambled egg and bacon at R54.

A basic breakfast costs R60. Eggs Benedict costs R75 with bacon or gypsy ham, R65 with spinach and brown mushrooms, and R85 with smoked salmon. Additional toppings to any dish cost R10 – R20 each. Breads offered are rye, wholewheat, white, and ciabatta. A three-egg omelette with toast costs R35, while granola, fruit and yoghurt costs R55.

imageI ordered a Craft Breakfast (R85), not the best plated breakfast presentation and an odd collection of items which could have done without the scrambled egg, with Gypsy ham, Emmentaler cheese, avocado, and a slice of toasted rye. I requested another slice of toast, for all the toppings on the plate. It was a very filling breakfast.

One can order a variety of sandwiches, wraps, or rolls, including ‘Jerk chicken‘, chicken mayo, and tuna (R55-R65), all served with rosemary and sea salt chips or salad. A variety of tapas dishes, served with chips, range in cost from R32-R65. Cheese, tapas, and charcuterie platters cost R145, but the number of persons they cater for is not mentioned. Burgers are served inclusive of chips, and cost R75-R78, an option being a vegetarian one. A 450g T-bone steak costs R135, and ‘seciality‘ (sic) sauces cost R40 each. Salads cost R75-R88.

Laurence told me about the noble Ground Up Barista training project, where persons eager to learn and get a job undergo an 8-week training program, including in-store training with job-shadowing on the floor.

Folk Coffee Anthropology is licensed, and they offer six coffee cocktailsimage, containing  ‘cold brew’, ranging in price from R30 – R160.  The wine list (commendably) details vintages, region, and glass/bottle prices. MCCs offered are Wildekrans MCC 2010 (R340) and L’Ormarins Brut Classique NV (R290). Five white wines cost R30 – R45 per glass, and R30 – R40 per glass for two red wines.

I will return for the cappuccino, and will try the Eggs Benedict, to check their plating of this breakfast dish. I enjoyed Laurence’s friendly and informative interaction, and was imagepleasantly surprised about the coffee shop which I had known nothing about! For those on the run, one can pop in for ready-made sandwiches, wraps, bagels, and salads, as well as Madame Fromage cheeses, and labneh. Spelling errors in the menu and wine list should be fixed! Unlimited wifi is available.

POSTSCRIPT 26/3: I returned to Folk Coffee Anthropology, in the hope of a better breakfast dish. Laurence was not there, and his wife Lee-Anne did not have the same interaction with patrons imageas he has. She did not want to take my egg order, and sent a waitress to the table instead, even though she was close by! The waitress got the egg order wrong, and I only picked this up when I saw the bill. The single shot cappuccino did not taste as good as the one I had as described above. Another waitress did not respond to anything I said or asked of her, and I was told that she was very new. I was disappointed that things went so badly on my second visit, and unfortunately Laurence only returned as I left.  Laurence saw my Facebook post about the second visit,  and replied as follows: ‘Thanks once again for the valued feedback. I immediately closed and addressed the staff concerned. Training is key and our staff definitely need more. I hope to welcome you back soon and thanks again for stopping by’.

Folk Coffee Anthropology, Shop 4, Touchstone House, 7 Bree Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 276-1795. Facebook and Instagram. Monday – Wednesday 7h00 – 17h00, Thursday – Friday 7h00 – 20h00, Saturday 7h00 – 14h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog:  Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook:  click here


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