Aroma and Taste

Hello everyone,

Today I want to talk about Aroma and Taste. Lately there's been a lot of talk about an international brand brining their coffee into South Africa. As a professional coffee taster, roaster and barista I can give my unequivocal and uncensored take on the coffee which comes from this international brand, it smells burnt and tastes sour and bitter.

That being said, what am I talking about...taste and aroma (see above with the CAPS on the first letter).

Taste can be broken down into 6 parts. Only six parts, nothing more at all. The layout of your tongue is as follows:

The Tounge

Sweet = Tip (i.e., the tip of your tongue about 1.5cm wide and 1cm deep)

Salty = Mid­Crease (i.e., about 2.5cm back from the tip in a line)

Sour = Inner Back Left & Right (i.e., think two balls on the top of the tongue near the back)

Bitter = Back of the tongue in the middle in the throat

Acidity = Sides of the mouth which makes your mouth water

Umami = Mouthfeel (i.e., all over mouth coating)

As you can see above no where does this mention “creamy luxuriant caramel tastes”.

What this means is that you/me/we can taste levels of each of the above in varying degrees (another blog entirely) but in order to assess a flavour you must smell it to obtain its Aroma Profile.

Coffee has over 1000 aromaticategorizations (categorizations of aromatic elements found in anything...yes this is a new word designed for highly aromatic compounds). The most aromatic wines have only 300. Whiskey is about as full as coffee with around 900. Chocolate may have more but it is as yet unknown (this may possibly be an exaggeration by the writer of this blog, but go check).

In coffee we use aroma wheels, in wine, whiskey and even marijuana.


Aroma Wheel


This month end on the 25th we are offering another coffee Cupping session for you to learn about your nose and what the heck is happening when you smell anything!

Contact for more info on the cuppings. 

Come visit every month end please!

- Jake 


Fashion Flavour & Art

CANSA Magical Evening of Fashion, Flavour and Art in Celebration 8th August 2015




Its not often that we can pair up with a movement which helps. And, its not enough to say that it helps people, it helps society. “Fashion, Flavour & Art” asked us last year to help with their event and we were honoured and proud to be asked again to help with the 2015 CANSA event.


The gorgeous Shimmy Beach Club, in the V&A Waterfront Harbour, will act as the perfect backdrop for an evening of true elegance, rich flavours & inspiring creativity as we celebrate life. All funds raised go to CANSA.


Bentley’s luxury motor vehicles will set the scene as you arrive with sponsors from: Brand House Luxury, Bvlgari, Sevruga Restaurant to Tribe Coffee. As a guest you will be treated to performance art by Johnny van Zyl, opera by Given Nkosi, fashion by Molteno Creations & Gabriela Fraser Designs along with performaces by The Dance Centre & The Femme Fatales. The Master of Ceremonies for the entire evening will be the lovely and talented Ms Liezel van der Westhuizen.


There is the obligatory raffle and let me tell you this is one in which you will relish participating..


Tickets available at WebTickets or on-line with PicknPay or in person at any PicknPay ticketing outlet.





Collaboration and our NEW liquor license!


This is a great word, collaboration, the Oxford English dictionary defines it as a noun of action meaning, “united labour, co-operation; esp. in literary, artistic, or scientific work”. We are lucky. We collaborate with the coolest Gin makers in Cape Town, Hope on Hopkins London Dry Gin.


Hope on Hopkins is one of TWO gin makers in South Africa. “Wait, wait, wait”, you say, thinking of at least three other Gin distillers in South Africa, but per the rules of the game there are only TWO. The TWO only Gin Distillers are: Jorgensen's Distillery & Hope on Hopkins Distillery. This means they produce their base distilled material, infuse, blend and bottle right here in the western cape. And, in the case of Hope on Hopkins they make their Gin about six or seven blocks from Tribe Woodstock.


Ex-lawyers and partners Lucy Beard and Leigh Lisk toil and play to bring you “grain to glass” spirits packed full of new flavours and an interesting range of botanicals, made by using the age old process of batch distillation with their two faithful stills – Mildred and Maude.

Let me allow them to speak in their own words, “Hope on Hopkins Distillery is a small artisanal distillery in the heart of Cape Town that prides itself on truly crafting its own spirits. Unlike many gin distillers we don’t buy in the base spirit to flavour, but prefer to make it ourselves, so that you know where it (and our carefully sourced quality ingredients) comes from. Using South African grown malted barley, we cook, ferment over several days and then triple distil to make our base neutral spirit...”.


So make a turn past our Woodstock Foundry site and enjoy our collaboration between Hope on Hopkins and our classic dry tonic with lime or a sprig of Rosemary.


Love in a glass...

Malawian Monday Time



Well its official this morning, the rest of the world carried on like normal, it's Monday.


Monday does not mean anything other than a start of a new week...its not even scientific..its a random mishmash of semi-critical ancient relic of a non-metric age which still persists.  And the thought of Monday being non-metric led me to remember time as it is perceived in Malawi.  


In 2010 Tribe was teaching roasting to a classroom of hopeful roasters in Malawi and I think they may have hit upon something huge; at the time I thought it was quite funny, but in retrospect I think it may have legs...Metric time?  


How this came about was because of my example on how to calculate the “Turn-Around” period in a  roast cycle.  What we do with coffee roasting is to time the entire roast and create a profile for each coffee for that year.  The first stages of a roast profile are relatively sedate and are as follows:

  • Drop green beans
    • into the drum on a rising temperature
      • with as cool a drop-in temperature possible
  • Watch the rate of cooling within the drum
  • Measure the time
  • finally figure out at what time the roast period went from cooling to heating
    • this period is called the “Turn-Around”.


Problematically this turn-around time is often measured slipshod and haphazardly, with the problem being that most digital temperature probes only register 0.0C and as roasters we need 0.00C in order to have the most accurate repeatable profile.  


So when the temperature gauge stops descending at say 98.8C at 1min50seconds and starts climbing back up at 98.9C by 2min12seconds then the turn-around time 98.8C at 2min01seconds...the math is as follows: 

  • 2min12seconds – 1min50seconds = 22 seconds
  • 22 seconds divided by 2 = 11 seconds
  • 1min50seconds + 11seconds = 2 min01seconds


Here was the rub...when the hopeful Malawian trainees were answering the question of time they related to a minute lasting for 100 seconds.  At first this was troubling...but then I got it.  


One minute currently has sixty seconds at a specific rate of change which means another second happens only once the period of time changes via tenths, hundredths, thousandths, millionths, and so on.  


What the Malawian's had done was to say that 60 seconds was divisible by 100 not sixty.  


So when subtracting 1min50 from 2min12 they got 62seconds difference.  It took me a good half an hour drawing clocks and stopwatches and showing them their own watches to get them to recall that there were 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in an hour.


I think they were right and that we should be working on a metric second, metric minute, metric hour and metric day.  This would mean seconds in millions, minutes in thousands, days in hundreds, months in tens, and years on a count.  


And, in the end, it would mean the end of Monday.  


No more early morning social media rants about how sad that Sunday has passed and that work must begin.  It'd just be another day, a point in time. Metrically perfect with little or no relevance to myth or legend.  


And then when someone asks for 60ml in 25 seconds...I wouldn't have to worry about what day it was or why it was no longer some other day but simply concentrate on the espresso.


Next time I'll talk about over/under/perfect...all in time.


(For more on time... )


Meet Ken


Meet Ken, our most fabu-lista barista.

Ken is our coffee guru at the Woodstock Foundry Cafe and plays a big part of maintaining consistency for every single one of you out there... 

Ken's "Freak-you-out-of-your-mind" cup of coffee is his 3/4 Cortado; however, his Cortado is fantastic and, his single macchiato is out of this world.

I dare you to find better...

Not only is Ken our go to guy for morning-delight Cortados but he's also our on-call in house Barista Trainer.  Kind-of...he's a bit more than just that...Ken likes to play pool, he almost beat Jake once, and in these pool halls he meets all kinds of people...some of whom want to be Baristas.  So he invites them in...he assess them and then gives a small amount of training.  We as a team re-assess them and if they're willing they get a pass into our Barista program.  Then, if they make it, we place them around the Western Cape.

Humble Barista Champ, resourceful cafe manager, driven by excellence, happy orphan in a foreign world, oh and did we say he beat all of us at the game "Crimes Against Humanity".  I don't know what that says about him or us... 

The magical Ken-Ken is more than just important... Check out the 2015 Autumn edition of the The Coffee Mag to read more about Cape Towns finest.  

“To make a good coffee takes some talent and a lot of skill.  With espresso every shot, tamp, grind and dose matters. Mostly you have t use fresh coffee within the 7-14 day premium period and with espresso you really have to be consistent with dosing and tamping”
- Ken