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  • Anje Van Dalen


Exploring the culture behind the drink.

Its known for being the second largest traded commodity in the world, discovered by a goat herder in the 1500s and has been trademarked as more than a drink - it is in fact, a culture.

Coffee has us all mesmerised through the ages and it’s easy to imagine why. Subtle aromas, blended richness, vibrant fullness and a smooth after taste, coffee has developed though the centuries and are regarded today as thé social drink.

I was very fortunate to have been able to attend a coffee tasting on Friday the 13th of September at Starbucks Melrose Arch. Putting everyone’s superstitious minds at ease, this was by far one of the most informative sessions I have ever attended and a whole new world has opened up for me. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved coffee, but after this session I realised that coffee had so much more depth, history and personality that one could have imagined.

Our barista and entertainer of the afternoon, Zwelakhe Mlangeni, is a credited coffee connoisseur. He was crowned as South Africa’s Starbucks Barista of 2018 and then advanced to the Starbucks EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) where he received overall 3rd place. He educated us on the different ways coffee can be brewed, how you should slurp, not sip, your coffee to taste the different flavours, and believe it or not, paring coffee with citrus and other fruit.

What I found fascinating while I was sitting there (slurping away at my coffee) is that different people, all from different cultures, came together and bonded over something as elementary as coffee. We voiced opinions, likes and dislikes and even shared in a few laughs - all because of coffee! I finally understood that coffee wasn’t merely regarded as a social drink because you want to grab a cuppa joe with a friend. Coffee opened a gateway for strangers to share and express thoughts and ideas and it only took “the love for coffee” to get everyone to engage in conversation.

A special thanks to Hellen Ndaba and Starbucks Melrose Arch for hosting us and being so warm hearted and friendly. You are such a great team and I really look forward to visiting you again. I would also like to thank my friend Michelle, who is always game to grab a cup of Starbucks with me.

Hugh Jackman was spot on with this quote:

"The smell of fresh-made coffee is one of the world's greatest inventions."

Let’s share this aroma along with engaging conversation with the people around us too.