We all have stories to tell and each of us walk a journey and I thought maybe I’ll share some of our story, it’s only a part of the story, of CoffeeTalks Cafe, as Mizpah is a story on it’s own.
CoffeeTalks Cafe, as “CoffeeTalks Cafe” has been operating for about 5 years now and it’s been a journey. We say journey because as time goes on, we grow along with the business and we discover more and more. When CoffeeTalks first opened, we had no proper coffee machine, only a couple of plungers and an odd array of coffee mugs which we got from our guesthouse. The cappuccinos we served were made with an Aeropress one of us had and frothed the milk with a home milk frother. That’s about all we had and a passion for serving coffee. So over time we acquired more equipment as we could afford it, next we got was v60’s to make pour over coffees also. At the time we were not fazed about matching cups etc because our main focus was to serve the best coffee we could with what we had and we were not prepared to acquire equipment we could not afford by taking out loans etc. So we progressed with what we had and our journey continued.
We had our vision and that’s what we sticked with. We gradually got busier, slowly. Had zero budget for marketing so we heavily relied on word of mouth advertising. We soon realised that we would have to take a step forward and get a proper coffee machine as we were getting busier. Came across an entry level machine, which we couldn’t afford, but it wouldn’t have set us back too much, but we waited still and prayed about it. Not too long after we that we found a deal for a machine. Second hand. We took the trip down to check it out and we were happy and we were able to buy it cash. Although second hand, it was more than just an entry level machine, in fact, it’s a really good machine and 4 years later it’s still serving us. We were happy and it was a defining moment for us because we started seeing progress. So soon after this we got matching cups, not for the sake of uniformity, but we wanted to ensure our coffee was consistent and the best we could make according to the standards and more.
At last we could add more coffees to our menu, Americanos and Lattes and Mochas, and so our menu started getting bigger. At some point we even compared different beans with different brewing styles to get the best combination. We also realised we had to add some food to our menu, because we couldn’t rely on just coffee and cake sales to carry us through, so we added filled pancakes and toasted sandwiches. Shortly after this our Facebook page came to be, but we still relied heavily on word of mouth advertising as well as gorilla marketing, we would go around and put posters all over town 4 in the mornings, just to get our name out there.
In 2015 we were approached by two people, who were planning a coffee expo, the would be first ever coffee expo in Bloem and they asked us to be the hosts. We agreed. This was yet another defining moment for us, as we could really see progress now and of course it was good marketing, this was also around the same time when we met Anthony, our first chef, which in itself is a story to tell. Before Anthony we were making the food ourselves and having a chef never really crossed our minds. Soon after Anthony joined our team, we replaced our “on the board” menu with an official full page proper menu which you could take to the table, however we stuck with the counter service theme because we could not afford any waiters at the time. This is when our journey with food really started. A couple of years before this we have started establishing a Bible garden on the property as well and planting a couple of vegetables in our then very small play play veggie garden and also an orchid with the Biblical fruits (except for Date palms). This is in part why we started serving Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods and incorporating it onto our menu. However we have soon realised that we still did find ourselves in Bloemfontein in the heart of South Africa and that most of our food may have seemed a bit too odd, so we had to stick with a couple things more homely on our menu.
Time progressed and we got busier, however, we still struggled to “get ahead”. We expanded and built on, but we had to always rely heavily on what we had or what we could find and make it work. In 2016 me and my mom went to Israel to visit my sister and this was yet another defining moment. Walking down the streets and experiencing the street cafes and “hole in the wall” cafes as they’re known, I fell involve with the vibe and the experience. What I experienced most in that harsh and rushed environment was hospitality, however more accurately was the honesty and authenticity I could sense. I felt comfortable sitting on a wobbling chair with a torn table cloth barely covering my table, but sipping the best coffee I tasted while I was there, because I tasted honesty and authenticity, I could sense the outward appearance wasn’t the priority, it was about the product they were selling, and it was good. It wasn’t fake.
Walking through the markets in Jerusalem I experienced and abundance like I have never experienced before, I have never in my life seen so much food and variety all in one place, it was remarkable. I was gobsmacked and I knew I needed to bring this experience with me because I wanted more people to experience that abundance. So when we got back, we started again.
To be continued…