Cape Town’s coffee culture is flourishing. Here, coffee snobbery is high up on our list of priorities – we turn our noses up at anything but the best quality, artisan brews, and rejoice when baristas perfect the subtle differences between the cappuccino and the flat white. We’ve successfully elevated the simple coffee date to an artful experience to be savored – and Instagrammed. This city is also fast becoming the capital of freelancing and flexi-hours, with outsiders questioning whether we ever get any work done here. The answer is yes – we just prefer to do so (or, at least, pretend to do so) from the comfort of our favorite café, while sipping on a frothy flat white, people-watching and breathing in the tempting scent of freshly-baked croissants. With so many cute Cape Town cafés, the only difficulty is picking which one to step in to. Here’s a guide to some of the best.
1. Bootlegger Coffee Company
Amid the hustle and bustle of Sea Point’s busiest road, Bootlegger is a cozy haven, perfect for flipping open your laptop and settling into your work with a Magic Flat White. While the aroma of fresh coffee mixes with the salty sea air wafting in from outside, you might be tempted to put the work away and stretch your legs along the nearby Sea Point promenade. Otherwise, stick around and indulge in a slice of rich chocolate cake, or even stay for dinner – unlike many Capetonian coffee shops, which begin their hustle at sunrise and close up around sunset, Bootlegger is open until late.
Where: 39 Regent Road, Sea Point
Hours: Monday to Thursday 6.30am – 10pm; Friday 6.30am – 11pm; Saturday 7.30am – 11pm; Sunday 7.30am – 10pm
2. Yours Truly
Yours Truly is tucked away behind Jacaranda trees and thick green foliage, along Kloof Street. This café-bar hybrid also forms part of the entrance-way to Once Backpackers, which is popular among millennials, making Yours Truly an ideal spot to connect with like-minded international freelancers, travelers and born-and-bred Capetonians alike. It’s almost always buzzing, no matter the day of week or time of day, and at sunset Yours Truly transforms into a popular evening watering hole, and you can also head upstairs to the rooftop bar Up Yours. Continue like the locals do and order one of the thin-crust pizzas to perfect your quintessentially Capetonian weekday.
Where: 73 Kloof Street, Gardens
Hours: 6am – 11pm
3. Shift Espresso Bar
With a slogan like ‘Death Before Decaf’, Shift Espresso Bar is a Green Point institution. Shift serves expert coffee, brewed from artisanal beans, and the menu includes specialty beverages such as Espresso Luigi (espresso made the way the owner likes to drink his), Black Insomnia coffee (considered the strongest in the city) and the so-called Bearded Junkie (a dreamy fusion of Nutella hot chocolate and a cappuccino). Team that up with one of their gourmet sandwiches or a slice of cheesecake and your taste buds will rejoice. With background tunes ranging from Frank Sinatra to old-school Red Hot Chilli Peppers to the Crystal Fighters, your ear drums will thank you, too.
Where: 47 Main Road, Green Point
Hours: 7am – 6pm
4. Hazz Coffee Company
Located in the university hub of Newlands (the University of Cape Town is practically around the corner), and surrounded by the serene leafy trees of Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs, Häzz is a favorite for students. At R18 a pop (single shot), their cappuccinos are cheaper than most you’ll find in the city, without skimping on deliciousness and creative foam art – when your order reaches your table, you’re likely to be greeted with a dog- or bunny-shaped swirl in your cappuccino’s creamy cap. White walls and floor-to-ceiling windows make for a bright, open space and clear thoughts.
Where: 51 Kildare Road, Newlands
Hours: 7am – 5pm
As its name suggests, the development of Origin back in 2005 marked the beginning of a new coffee culture in Cape Town, one focused on ethically sourced beans, artisan roasting and excellence. Over 10 years later, Origin still lives up to its legacy and serves a wide variety of consistently delicious, top-end coffee. The café is housed in an historic warehouse building typical of De Waterkant, a culturally-rich neighborhood teeming with young professionals, creatives, and students. As you open the glass door and enter the industrial, yet cozy interior, you’ll be greeted by a high table laden with freshly baked treats, tempting you from beneath their shiny glass cloches to add a mini carrot cake or salmon bagel to your specialty coffee order.
Where: 28 Hudson Street, De Waterkant
Hours: Weekdays 7am – 5pm; Weekends 9am – 2pm
6. The Loading Bay
Just next door to Origin is the Loading Bay, another firm favorite for young professionals, and especially Cape Town’s fash-pack. This is not surprising considering the café is at the bottom of a fashionable clothing and high-end cosmetics store, which you can peruse when you feel like a break from the daily grind. Word on the street is that their buttery, extra-flaky croissants meet the very high standards of some of Cape Town’s French contingent, and their Classic Grilled Cheese (with extra avo) is another excellent choice to fuel your work day. If you’re feeling guilty about the carbs, order a refreshing green juice to restore your health zen.
Where: 30 Hudson Street, De Waterkant
Hours: Weekdays 7.30am – 5pm; Saturday 8.30am – 4pm; Sunday 9am – 2pm
7. Bean There Coffee
One of the cornerstones of Cape Town’s new coffee culture is the use of responsibly sourced beans, a characteristic embodied by Bean There. They were the first in South Africa to roast Certified Fairtrade coffee beans. They also have some of the friendliest baristas, and the space itself, located on Wale Street in Cape Town’s City Centre, is open, bright and decorated by attractive pops of color. It’s a happy experience all around.
Where: 58 Wale Street, Cape Town City Centre
Hours: Weekdays 7.30 – 4pm
8. Hard Pressed Café
Café is a unique little spot in Cape Town’s CBD, with an interior lined by shelves laden with vinyl records (which are available for purchase) and other eccentric knickknacks (think old school TV sets, board games, photo frames and stacks of thick books). The seats are adorned by inspirational quotes. One of them reads “Coffee. Food. Vinyl,” which perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Hard-Pressed café. It also happens to be perched on the end of Bree Street, Cape Town’s gastronomical capital. Use this thought as inspiration – have your Hard Pressed coffee, get your hustle on, meet those deadlines and then go sample some of the best local gourmet food in the city.
Where: 1 Bree Street, Cape Town City Centre
Hours: Weekdays 7.30am – 5pm; Saturday 9am – 12.30pm
9. Field Office
Field Office is the brainchild of well-known furniture designers Luke Pederson and James Lennard, who wanted to create a space that served as their office away from the office. Their cafés not only reflect their personal design aesthetic – serving as showrooms for their pieces – but also the creativity of the vibrant neighborhoods surrounding them. Field Office is the ultimate spot to feel a part of Cape Town’s up-and-coming creative movement. The Salisbury Road branch, with its large glass windows and white-walled façade typical of the Woodstock area, is a favorite for its quaint corner location on a quiet suburban street.
Where: 34 Salisbury Road, Woodstock
Hours: Weekdays 7am – 4pm; Weekends 8am – 2pm
Any comprehensive list of Capetonian cafés must include Truth. Another bastion of Cape Town’s innovative coffee culture, this inner-city spot was also named the best coffee shop in the world in 2015, according to The Telegraph UK. While Truth’s coffee, in all its home-roasted glory, is distinctly delicious, it is the café’s Steampunk theme that truly sets this location apart. Characterized by the use of industrial, steam-powered machinery, the Steampunk aesthetic resonates in every detail of Truth, from the costumes of the doormen, waiters and baristas to the metal tables shaped like giant cogs, arranged around their vintage coffee roaster. Paired with a laptop, a notebook for wanderlists, like-minded study-buddies or even brunch, Truth café is a Cape Town experience not to be missed.
Where: 36 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town City Centre
Hours: Weekdays 7am – 6pm, Weekends 8am – 2pm