Voortrekker Road in Maitland is not the nicest place in the Western Cape – certainly not on a weekday afternoon just before Christmas, with the light all yellow and the south easter blowing.
Dead leaves, plastic bags, and pieces of paper saturated with fish and chips grease swirl in and out of shop fronts and other nooks and crannies.
A Sun poster proclaims: ‘Cyril is the next ANC dik ding …’, reducing South Africa’s newly elected political saviour to the status of a Cape Flats druglord. Take that, 2000-word political analyst guys.
Plastics wreaths twitch and rustle in the Maitland Cemetery, and the bile green Old Mutual logo – affixed to some kind of tower at its ghastly head office at the bottom end of Pinelands, surely the grey shoes capital of the known world – is visible through the eucalyptus trees.
I know all about Pinelands. I grew up there. I believe it’s become popular among parliamentarians. No wonder our democracy is under threat. But I digress.
Why, then, was I in Voortrekker Road ? I had gone there to a place called Packit, to buy flat-pack cardboard part bins. (Why I wanted them so badly is a story for another day.) But the door was barred, and a scrawled sign on a chalkboard stated that they would regrettably be closed for stock-taking on the 19th. Today.
Dazed and confused (read pissed off and depressed), I drove back up Voortrekker Road, towards the cemetery and the surreal police flats at the bottom end of Goodwood.
Then, among the signs for toilet paper factory shops – is there a vibrant trade in discounted toilet paper ? How much can one use ? How much can one save ? Are there people who buy discounted toilet paper in in bulk and sell it to their friends ? And what would the profit margin be ? – I saw a splayed pavement sign in postmodern black and white type that read enigmatically: ‘Walt Roastery. Come in for a cuppa’.
I drove on, but the sign preyed on my mind. So eventually, I did a U-turn into Cemetery Entrance Number X, and headed back. What the heck – maybe I could salvage something from the Packit disaster.
I turned right into Seventh Avenue and then into a funky little business park called the Old Timber Yard. Walt Roastery was nestled in a corner – a welcoming little space in a double volume unit, with a long kitchen table in the middle, overlooked by a restored Heidelberg offset press and a Hobart gas-fired bean roaster.
It was empty except for a smiling guy called Eddington, wearing a baseball cap back to front like a snapper from the Bang Bang Club. I asked for an Americano. Eddington ground some beans, and then drew me the best cup of coffee I have ever tasted.
I know – that’s a helluva thing to say. But all the other coffee I had ever drunk in my life receded into the far distance, like something viewed through a zoom lens rapidly twisted from telephoto to wide angle.
I started thinking about coffee in the same cheesy terms used by wine tasters – ‘rich, creamy, woody, no acidic undertone …’ Unbelievable.
I asked Eddington about their beans. He said they got them from all over — Ethiopia, Kenya, whatever. But my Americano was pure Ethiopian.
At this moment, I don’t know anything more about Walt Roastery. You can read about it on their website. I’m sure I’ll find out more about it as time goes on, because I’m going to go there often.
In the meantime, though, glom this: if you’re in or anywhere near Cape Town, and you’re a coffee drinker, head for Walt Roastery. You gonna die and go to heaven. Except you might just hang around first for another shot.