Karel Viviers from Coocoocachoo competed in his very first SCASA competition and struck gold when he won the Cup Tasting discipline at the recent Gauteng Region Coffee Competitions.
We connected with Karel on his coffee journey and how it felt like competing.
Tell us a bit about yourself? Where do you currently work and how did you get into coffee?
I’ve been obsessed with specialty coffee for a good 15 years now. There more I discovered about coffee the more I wanted to know and luckily in coffee the learning never stops. My background is in strategic marketing and earlier this year I finally scratched my entrepreneurial itch and converted my passion for artisanal food and specialty coffee and creativity into a business. I opened a small coffee shop in Blairgowrie, Johannesburg which also has an e-commerce element to it.
What are your interests outside of coffee?
I don’t know what “interests outside of coffee” means? Ha-ha. I’m very passionate about creative, authentic food and beverages (coffee, beer, wine, if it tastes good and is made well I must have it). I love art, design, music, outdoor adventure, aviation and since I’m a dad of two young boys I don’t get to do any of those things, but it doesn’t matter because they are just the best and fill me with love.
The Gauteng Region Coffee Competitions was such an exciting event this year, tell us more about your experience and how it felt like competing?
It was my first time competing in any form of SCASA competition and was an interesting and cool experience. Who knew you could be nervous to drink some coffee?! Cup taster competitions are notoriously challenging, and I found that be true, the nuances in the various cups are so small that by the halfway mark your tasting accuracy starts slowing down and then the time element starts kicking in and your nervous anyway and I’m rambling because that’s how you feel even though you only take a few minutes to do everything! I look forward to competing again in the future.
Rambling’s allowed. It was quite the intense set.
What is great about coffee in the greater Gauteng area?
There is a marked increase in the variety of specialty coffee available. Not only the amount of small roasteries popping up and delivering really good roast profiles, but also the amount of establishments that pay more attention to their coffee offering and that in turn is driven by a heightened awareness and demand from customers. In short, the growth across the sectors of the industry in Gauteng is great!
What is your favourite coffee at the moment, and why?
Since we serve Father Coffee‘s Heirloom Blend at our shop I’m spoiled to drink that every day and honestly their selection of single origins aren’t only unique and numerous, but I have yet to come across one that isn’t amazing, love their work. I have just finished a special treat, a single origin geisha from Bluebird Roastery called Liliana, a flavour rollercoaster all the way through and across brew methods. I’ll be honest though, there are so many amazing coffees in SA, do you have a month so I can tell you about all of them and why I love them?
Ha-ha, sounds fascinating, it’s a date.
Is there anyone you would like to thank or recognize, or who helped you to prepare for the Gauteng Region Coffee Competitions?
My barista Sipho Phomodi [pictured in the centre above], he’s one of my baristas and asked me ages ago to enter him into the competition. So I decided to join him, so I’m glad we got to take part together. I would also like to thank the one barista from Dulce Cafe who lent me his tasting spoon for the semi-finals, I left mine at home like a professional and he graciously allowed me to use his (a big deal for the tasting purists!), I owe him a free coffee!
That’s such a nice gesture, please send us a photo when you share that coffee.
What’s next for Karel Viviers and where do you see yourself in five years?
My coffee shop is still new, so my immediate focus is to grow our business. In the medium term I want to expand our footprint with more spots and more involvement in coffee events. In five years’ time I’m hoping to have built our brand into a recognisable, distinct identity with broad reach and to do that by developing others, creating jobs, sharing knowledge, gaining knowledge and truly growing the industry beyond my business alone. Easy right?
All the best Karel and thanks for taking the time.
(Photos: SCASA & Coocoocachoo)