Truth Coffee Shop Cape Town
For SAA Sawubona Mag, April 2014
Capetonians are getting used to having fresh creative spaces pop up all the time, but when Truth Coffee shop settled in Buitenkant street, once dingy and deserted, they paid attention.
The café, a space created in collaboration between designer Haldane Martin and part owner, businessman David Donde, pays homage to the Victorian science fiction hobby of futurism, or ‘steampunk’. To better understand the genre, think of the film adaptation of Jules Vern’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and a space filled with exposed metal pipes, vintage typewriters and wait staff dressed in leather suspenders and top hats.
In fact, while discussing an unrelated project, Martin turned to Donde and declared, “You are steampunk.” And thus, the seed was planted for what has become an engineering marvel.
At the centre of the operation, that has become famous for selling coffee with ‘flavour not bitterness, no sugar required’, is a gigantic retro-futuristic coffee machine, aptly named Colossus – Professor Jones’ Fabulous Coffee Bean Contraption. It’s apparent that Donde and his team have had a lot of fun in bringing this steampunk dream to reality.
Truth Café is the antithesis of the bright-light franchised cookie cutter coffee shops American coffee culture has introduced around the world. A popular meeting place, it is heavy with the metal work of custom-made furniture, and packed with those running laptops off the free wifi.
A British journalist anointed the café with the title of ‘best coffee shop in the world’ last year. With a focus on well-made coffee, expert barista training and customer comfort, he can’t be too far from the truth.
*Images provided: David Donde & Haldene Martin*