So far in our series of Coffee Culture Around the World we’ve looked at countries in Europe, South America and Asia. As we continue to look at how different countries around the world drink, prepare and approach coffee, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how they do coffee in South Africa.

Coffee in South Africa

Located at the most Southerly point of Africa and home to 53 million people, it’s quite surprising to discover that there isn’t much of a coffee culture at all in South Africa; at least there wasn’t until very recently anyway.


Within the last few years, the availability of coffee has increased, and the variations available have broadened. It wasn’t too long ago that when you ordered a coffee in South Africa you’d have to specify ‘filter coffee’ otherwise you’d just get bog-standard instant coffee.

Moving Forward

In the past few years, however, South Africa has started to embrace coffee a little bit more and specialist coffee shops have seen a dramatic increase in custom. CNN Travel report that in 2012 coffee shops experienced almost four times the amount of business in their shops than they did in 2007; a dramatic increase within five years.

Much like in Europe and North America, the to-go coffee cups of specialist coffee chains are now being seen more of a fashion accessory than solely a drinks holder, and with more coffee choices becoming available and appealing to a wider audience, more and more cups are starting to be seen.

Outside Influence

South Africa is country that is full of culture and proud of its traditions and heritage. This was seen at the 2010 World Cup. The fans would arrive to the games not just in football jerseys but in their traditional African clothing, and the use of the Vuvuzela that made so many headlines definitely made a statement of ‘this is South Africa, and this is how we do things here’.


The same can be said for the growing culture around coffee in South Africa. Although Starbucks Coffee is served in South Africa, you still won’t find a Starbucks shop in South Africa. Grant Dutton, MD of Vida Coffee – a popular coffee chain in South Africa – states that there is a reluctance to become globalised or Americanised with over-sized coffee cups with the focus being on quality over quantity. South Africa is developing a coffee culture, and they want to do it on their own terms it would seem.

Improving Quality

As the coffee culture grows in South Africa, so does the boutique roasting business and the methods of coffee brewing within South Africa. This shift in focus from instant coffee, to high quality and specialist coffee has caused the people of South Africa to become more particular with their coffee drinking habits and what the expect from their coffee.

The increase of popularity and sales of coffee pods such as Nestle Nespresso and in-home coffee bean grinders and not just coffee machines indicates that the want for high quality coffee has extended beyond coffee shops and café’s, but to the home also.

I think it’s definitely fair to say that the coffee culture in South Africa has come a long way in a short space of time, so watch this space. You never know, before too long you might be seeing a South African coffee shop near you…


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