Like any list of specialty coffee shops, this one – of more than 20 in Johannesburg – is totally biased. A few of them serve food too (like the British coffee shops) but most follow the Australian and New Zealand models of just damned good coffee. (The asterisk* is for places I’ve heard are meant to be outstanding but haven’t tried yet.)

coffee shop barista johannesburg ted botha
Hill Brewed Coffee, Troyeville. Photos by Ted Botha.

EAST

Hill Brewed Coffee, New Doornfontein

This corner of Voorhout Street seems a bit jinxed, because two other coffee shops have tried to make a go of it before. But having tried both of them, I can definitely say Hill Brewed makes great coffee and has what it takes to keep going.

Dear Maria, Bedfordview

Stuck down an arcade near where Van Buren does that kink to the right at Nicol Road, there’s a reason this place has been going for a while despite its out-of-the way location.

WEST

Craft, Newtown 

Consistently good coffee in a great setting, with roasting machines and an espresso lab in the back.

Rebel’s Playground, Victoria Yards

A new addition in a hidden back corner of Victoria Yards.

* Old School Coffee, Newtown Junction

craft coffee johannesburg newtown barista
Craft Coffee, Newtown.

NORTH

Loof, Norwood

At the top of Kent Street, the fact that the store has doubled in size speaks for itself.

The Grind, Melrose Arch

Part of a bicycle shop, and not the easiest place to find parking, it’s worth the stop.


Tilt, Melville

A great little spot opposite 27 Boxes that was opened by Lia and Wayne, and is one of the stopovers for bikers doing the increasingly popular coffee ride on Sundays, going from coffee shop to coffee shop.

tilt coffee barista melville johannesburg
Tilt Coffee.

Craft, Parktown North

Its second shop, after the long-running cafe and roastery in Newtown.

The Richmond, Richmond

A former photographer and his partner changed his old studio, in a great corner location in a cute suburb, Richmond, near the Johannesburg Country Club Also on the bikers’ Sunday coffee run.

* Ophelia, Emmarentia

* Bloom Coffee, Parkhurst 

* 4th Avenue Coffee Roasters, Parkhurst

Bean There, 44 Stanley, Milpark

There is a large roaster in the middle of the store, but most of the roasting goes on in the Braamfontein branch.

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Perfect latte art at Bean There.

The Whippet, Linden

It’s more about the food here than the coffee, but the coffee is great.

* Third Space, Fourways

Africa Black, North Riding

You might miss Erina Nigrini’s place in the Northlands Shopping Centre, on Witkoppen Road, but it is well known for the aroma of roasting beans wafting out of the corner shop and its usually entirely female staff, baristas included.

Father, Rosebank

Naked, Melrose Arch and Sandton City

CENTRAL

Goat, Downtown

You might miss it if you blink, but it’s at the bottom of Simmonds Street, opposite the Standard Bank complex. Perfect place to get a coffee before joining or leaving the M2.

Flight, Downtown

Started by the same people who have Whippet (see above). Probably the best coffee you will get downtown.

Home of the Bean, Maboneng

In the home of what used to be Firebird Coffee, in the courtyard behind the Cosmopolitan.

Cramers, Downtown

Probably the longest-serving coffee shop in the city centre that is still going.

Doubleshot, Braamfontein

Father, Braamfontein 

The first outpost of the very Brooklyn, New York-like coffee shop.

Bean There, Braamfontein

Not in the most obvious location, off Smit Street, the small seating area fronts a massive roasting section.

when all else fails

Woolworths, numerous locations and usually very good coffee. I would vouch for them, and the one at O.R. Tambo Airport is usually a first port of call on entering the country.

Motherland, 9 locations around Johannesburg and one in Cape Town. Sometimes good, sometimes not so. The hit-and-miss nature of the coffee probably comes with the growth of the chain.

Bootlegger, 16 locations in Cape Town (and 3 more coming) and 4 in Johannesburg. I’m not a fan, but as I said, this is a very biased list.