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Manaka takes coffee roasting by the horns

Gauteng roastery and eatery sets the bar in swanky suburb

09 February 2022 - 14:00 By Sibusiso Mkwanazi
A general view of Manaka.
A general view of Manaka.
Image: Supplied

As an emoji, the horns of a bull mean something completely different (horny) to what SA coffee roasters Manaka intended the name to mean.

“Manaka” in Sesotho refers to the horns of a bull, and this represents prosperity and undeterred determination, something co-owners Alessandro Khojane, Bradley Symons, Neo Moleko and Phumlani Sibeko have in abundance. The quartet have grown from a dodgy coffee shop close to a car wash in Bryanston  to the swanky Polofields area, in Waterfall, Midrand.

Their flagship coffee roastery and eatery draws you in using African design, including the shape of a hut employed for the bar area. This is where the aromatic brewing takes place, where coffee beans from India, Tanzania, Brazil, Ethiopia and other regions are turned into tantalising elixirs.

Coffee snobs revel at the fact that at Manaka, coffee is an experience.

From the education waiters provide (it should never be enjoyed at boiling point  but rather at a balmy 60°C to 70°C) to the presentation using a tamper (used to flatten the ground coffee in the portafilter), knockbox (used to store spent espresso grounds), scale and timer (to determine the perfect coffee to water ratio, and how long to brew), this is for seasoned connoisseurs and those willing to learn from the best.

Some of the scrumptious brews and treats on offer at Manaka.
Some of the scrumptious brews and treats on offer at Manaka.
Image: Supplied

I am someone who consumes coffee to stay awake on very long drives, and this happens every leap year. I invited gazes of withering contempt as I overlooked the ristretto (short shot of highly concentrated espresso), cortado (espresso with warm, steamed milk to reduce the acidity) and went for what is referred to as “other drinks”, right at the end of the menu.

At the risk of being stoned to death, Manaka serves the most delectable and refreshing non-coffee offerings.

Their fruit smoothies (peanut butter, strawberry and peanut butter and banana) and their cookies and cream drink are to die for if you are not a coffee consumer.

African heritage makes its way through the food menu as well, but with touches of contemporary flair.

If I had to choose one dish from the menu, it would be The Manaka Magwinya, a plump vetkoek stuffed with Cape Malay Lamb, atchaar and mint and lime yoghurt, at R98. This vetkoek went to private school and drives an electric car.

• See manakacoffee.co.za


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