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Meet your barista…

It’s the kind of place you can’t help but want to visit. There is an awesome vibe, yummy pastries and free wifi. Oh and the coffee? Absolutely fantastic. We spent a bit of time getting to know Salt Rock Coffee Company founder and owner Karl Desler and his team of talented baristas.

“Coffee is about community,” says Karl, as he looks around the bustling coffee shop filled with a variety of different types of people. “It brings people together. Whether it’s a business meeting or a catch up with a friend … you always ‘meet for a coffee’.”
It’s clear when you meet him that Karl truly loves what he does. He is determined to serve up the best possible cuppa to every one of his customers and he clearly enjoys spending time with them as well. He is also passionate about coffee.

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What started out as an idea to sell coffee on the beach has evolved drastically over the past few years, and now Salt Rock Coffee Company is much more than just a coffee shop – it’s a popular, well-established, trendy brand. They even have their own range of t-shirts, mugs and caps!
Karl became a certified barista in 2018 after spending much of his life in the motor industry. He has subsequently trained four of his staff members – Thuthukani Mlambo, Victor Denver Mufukwa, Sihle Gumede and Siyanda Buthelezi – as baristas as well. It’s clear, watching them carefully pour the perfect café lattes and cappuccinos, that they are just as serious about coffee as Karl is.

Two of the four other trained baristas at Salt Rock Coffee, Thuthukani Mlambo and Victor Denver Mufukwa

Salt Rock Coffee Company is situated in the Salt Rock Centre and has become a popular meeting spot for those looking not only for a great cup of coffee, but a friendly atmosphere and comfortable workspace. From businessmen to moms with (or without) kids, friends, cyclists and runners … everyone feels relaxed in the space. The shop has a workstation area and free wifi, and they serve a variety of light snacks to accompany your drink of choice.

“We are a coffee-based business with a compliment of food,” says Karl. “We serve a range of pastries and croissants and most of the suggestions have actually come from our customers themselves. That’s why we don’t have a food menu – it changes all the time, depending on what people want.”

Definitely worth a try if you do spot them though, are the decadent Custard De Natas, introduced by Karl’s partner, Ingrid Zwiers. Trust us, they are delicious!

When it comes to the type of coffee they serve, Salt Rock Coffee has a special roast of coffee made for them by the well-known Bluebird Coffee Roastery under the Salt Rock Coffee label.
One of the things he enjoys most about coffee, Karl says, is being creative and experimenting with flavours, and there is a wide selection of milk options in store as well. They also serve plant-based smoothies and vegan pastries.

Supporting local and being as environmentally-friendly as possible are high on Karl’s list of priorities, which is why they stock almost all local products in their store and serve their coffee in compostable cups with compostable lids. “It’s a bit expensive, but we want to be responsible. We live near the ocean and a lot of the time these cups end up on the beach.”
Speaking about the coffee culture in SA, Karl says he has seen it grow massively over the past few years. “It’s such a great industry to be a part of. Everyone looks out for each other and it’s like this all around the world. If you run into trouble and need help, you can call the guy with the coffee shop down the road and he’ll help you out … it’s just a coffee thing,” he laughs.

While Karl and Ingrid never expected their brand to take off the way it has, they have embraced the growth and will soon be opening up a second branch in Ballito! “We are opening up a store in the new Odyssey Ballito development, where the old Ballito Bay Mall was in March 2021. We’ll have a coffee shop as well as a full retail area, stocking a variety of locally-sourced items such as vegan soaps, furniture and décor items, beauty and accessories.”

Details: www.saltrockcoffee.co.za, 060571 9769, FB: SaltRockCoffeeCafe

Text: Leah Shone | Photographs: Mary-Ann Palmer

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