I’d like to start by stating that I love coffee. I started drinking coffee in my late teenage years. I can safely say that my mother unintentionally kick-started this caffeine bug. However, back then I didn’t have the fancy espresso’s and cappuccino’s it was good ol’ Ricoffy and eventually we graduated to Nescafe. At the time this was defined as good coffee to me because myself and moms didn’t know better. Mom grew up in a time where she didn’t have much and many of the things that were new for me were also new for her. More than anything coffee was that one ritual that gave us a moment together to connect and catch up. This was something that allowed us to explore the coffee we best enjoyed.
Over the years the ritual became larger than the cup of coffee we shared. It was about being in each other’s presence even though we both didn’t verbalize it, we both loved the time we shared together. I remember one day after school I was mugged in central Jo’burg, two guys had a knife to me while onlookers passed by minding their own business as if nothing was happening. The guys got away with my Nokia cellphone and a gold chain I received as a gift from my mother. Usually, I would go home after school but after that incident, I took a taxi to my mother’s work for a much-needed consoling session. I was fuming at this point and I kept thinking to myself I could have fought off these guys and ran. But thinking back, I’m so glad I didn’t have superhero juice flowing inside me. Anyway, I got to my mother’s workplace, before I could even utter a word she could see something was up. Maybe its because she tried calling me and couldn’t reach me, who knows. She got up, boiled the kettle and made us some coffee. You would swear our mothers are professional counselors because she just knew what to say in order to make me feel better about that whole situation. By the time we were done with the coffee, the anger of that short-lived trauma had worn-out. That conversation will always remain close to me because it’s then I started learning that worldly possessions are just that.
Over time, coffee became a sacred ritual I did with my her after she passed it was something that I continued to do on my own. I decided to learn more about this beverage I had learned to enjoy over the years. This was from learning about the various beans and where they originated, and which one really tickled my taste buds, to which coffee shop made the best cup. Through this journey, I’ve met some really incredible people. Shared some great cups of coffee with them. Most of these people have been baristas and sometimes actual owners of coffee shops. These people that have contributed to the knowledge I have today through conversations I’ve had with them over time.
Recently, some close friends have asked why I don’t invite them to have coffee with them. I have never had to explain this, but this is something that is meaningful to me and holds valued memories. A simple cup of coffee has carried loads of conversations with a person I love dearly over the years. Coffee has bought calm into chaotic days, uplifted me when I felt like I’ve reached the end. To bring someone into this means that the person has to be close to me and not just passing by in my life. The process of including some people in this cafe ritual has lead me to find that it has a sticky effect on them. Coffee has brought us closer and we’ve even managed to engage in some deep and meaningful conversations allowing us to know each other better. Perhaps coffee is the gateway to getting to know someone better. However, I have found that some coffee spaces allow people to engage in conversation and others don’t. I love good coffee and the spaces we get to enjoy this marvel called coffee. Through this platform, I will seek out hidden coffee treasures and talk about my experiences.
Writer & Photographer: Tshego Mmahlatji