Last week, I had my first ever cup of coffee.
I was writing a story about the local coffee hero and it seemed the right thing to do. My head abuzz, my heart pounding, I can’t believe I managed to make any notes! The lovely dog that has adopted the café as his daily hangout has been nicknamed Tea Bag – so I persevered in his honour.
Not many people would consider the space between the railway line and dusty trading store car park the ideal spot to set up a café. Michael Goddard, thought it a great find and actually, it is. Michael is passionate about ‘garage coffee’ – “Everyone needs fuel, and coffee (human fuel) is available at most garages. Not always good coffee, often relatively terrible”, he smiles. Michael is part of the movement to reinvent ‘garage coffee’ and is setting a whole new standard, off the beaten track beside Thokan’s Store.
Steam Punk Café takes coffee seriously. “Importing good African coffee is one thing, making it properly is quite another.” To ensure that the taste is a good as it can be, he carts fresh, natural water to the Café each day from the farm where he lives in Dargle. Apparently, the salts and minerals bring out the sweet savoury flavours. Water is heated to just the right temperature (72 degrees for cappuccino) which sweetens the lactose and means sugar is an unnecessary addition. Clearly very creative, Michael sees each cup as the chance to create something new – capturing the moment – then it is gone.
Already, local coffee aficionados, including teachers, designers, chefs, farmers and hipsters are flocking for their daily fix. I bumped into more Dargle people in a couple of hours there than I have seen all month! Michael Ndlovu who works up the road stops by each day. “This is the place to start the morning, with the best espresso ever to give you that voom!” he grins. Self-proclaimed coffee addict Sebastian Laccarino, agrees “You won’t get coffee this good at a petrol station for miles.” Neville Trickett pops in so often for his four shot cappucino to get his day started, that there is a particular Steampunk Coffee Blend named after him. “I like people that think left of centre. Michael is living proof that if you do something from the heart and you do it well, people will come,” he says. Michael is thoroughly enjoying the interactions with his customers – describing them as real, gritty and authentic – convinced that coffee always attracts positivity.
Snacks to accompany your favourite brew are simple and stylish, with local ingredients showcased. Wood fired Love Bread from Lidgetton makes great toast, especially when topped with real cheese found on a foray to the Karkloof Farmers Market. On the weekends there are utterly yummy Portuguese custard tarts too.
Michael is determined to keep things as green and local as possible. He dreams about using the coffee grounds to grow mushrooms, of opening up the back of the Café to take in the view of the tracks, of roasting his own coffee and sharing these skills with others and perhaps, creating a tiny deli filled with delectable local goodies…
I don’t think I will try coffee again although I was fascinated by the complexity of flavour and I still love the fragrance. I will settle for a very nice, not very sweet, Iced Tea instead. Or perhaps I can convince Michael to serve some loose leaf Darjeeling?