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KZN Midlands a coffee lover’s dream

No shortage of “Liquid gold”

The Village Cafe in Nottingham Road. Try the pancakes, with cinammon, lemon and cream. Pictures: Garth Johnstone and Unsplash

By Garth Johnstone

We wrote an article recently about farm stalls and food specialty shops in the Midlands, with a very good reaction.

People clearly love driving the Midlands Meander and filling up on goodies, while the rest of the Midlands has gems here and there that also deservedly receive their fair share of the love.

Now we turn our minds to something even more popular: KZN has certainly developed a love affair with good coffee and our area is well covered with passionate purveyors of the bean, one of the hottest commodities in the world.

Depending on where you are in the world, what coffee you are drinking and, very importantly, how it got from grower to retailer, a cup of quality mud can cost up to $75 (R1080), or even more.

People are just crazy about coffee … and the variety of venues in the Midlands, and the coffee styles, is impressive. Picture: Oiver Guhr/Unsplash

Let’s acknowledge up front… it’s impossible to cover every coffee seller and coffee shop in the Midlands, there are just too many and the area is too broad. So we’re going to give a nod to some of those we’ve visited and enjoyed. If you’ve been left out, never fear. We can always add something about your shop later, this is a blog after all. If you’re passionate about your business (coffee related) and want a mention, mail us at meanderchronicle@gmail.com.

Strong cuppa

Starting in Mooi River and heading in the direction of PMB, Bistro on 30 degrees in Mooi River is a good place to catch a cup of Java and take a break. I like to sit outside on the benches on a cold Midlands day and enjoy a strong cup of coffee. You get to watch the cars and trucks drive by. Staff are always friendly at this venue.

Nottingham Road’s got a few hot coffee spots, all different, and all worth spending your hard-earned cash on. Elula Coffee at Linga Lapa, Flamme Rouge Cycle Café at Gowrie Village, The Village Cafe and takeaway coffees from Coffeesmiths at Earth Route Market provide a satisfying hit of the good stuff. The first three also offer meals, while Linga Lapa has long been known as “the Butcher, Baker and Biltong maker”. At the market, there are lots of food options.

District 103 at The Junction is another option, although it’s better known as a restaurant.

One of the world’s most sought-after commodities is bouncing back in SA as the severity of the lockdown eases. Picture: Alin Luna on Unsplash

Terbodore in Curry’s Post is famed for its superior quality coffee and supplies many outlets in the Midlands, while The Barn Owl at Groundcover has quickly found popularity among the Meander crowd and with locals.

Terbodore’s coffee shop and restaurant at Curry’s Post.

The Railhouse has proved a hot spot to stop for coffee and other beverages and a meal. They also stock lots of local foods produced in the Midlands, like jams, rusks and a favourite, Miss Molly’s Date Balls. The “missus” swears by their chai tea (and it’s not always easy to please miss right).

Waffle Inn and N2 Bakery are next door to one another in Lidgetton, but are very different venues. Waffles, clearly, are the main attraction at Waffle Inn, and after you’ve had your fill and a cup of Java, you can head further into the venue and browse an interesting selection of books. N2 Bakery has delicious pastries, fresh rolls, bread from the oven and frozen and delicious and very reasonable pizza bases. It’s one of the most relaxing spots in the Midlands to enjoy a coffee break, as the venue sits under a stretch tent nestled among trees.

N2 Bakery is among the prettiest of settings for a coffee break in the Midlands.

Piggly Wiggly needs no introduction and has the added attraction of a number of specialty stores at the same premises. Lots of day trippers consider this the be all and end all of the Meander, but we know it’s not so (smiley face). The Coffeesmiths provide a takeaway coffee option most days of the week and produce an excellent cup of coffee.

Coffeetearia is at the small conglomeration of shops which is home to Thokans and used to house Steampunk. This is a clean, functional spot with contemporary design that has a comprehensive menu and excellent coffee. Look out on the shelves for specialty toffee sold for about R60. It’s to-die-for.

Midlanders

Taste Buds Farm Stall in the Dargle, and VT Coffee Café, in Lions River we’ve discussed in earlier blogs. They are both recommended for the coffee and a purchase or two.

Maggie’s in Howick is a popular spot for a fine cuppa and a light meal (the toasted sarmies are the best) while catching up on some of the latest Howick chat. Host Margie (Maggie) White is a familiar face to many Midlanders, having previously had a successful coffee shop in Nottingham Road.

We are yet to visit the Mushroom Farm but have heard good things and plan to visit soon.

Midmar View restaurant at the tourism office at the entrance to Mpophomeni offers a pretty functional cup of coffee. They’re best known for their delicious meats cooked over the fire and the festive atmosphere, particularly at weekends. Mpophomeni has picked up since Mpophomeni mall opened last year, with Shoprite as the anchor tenant.

A number of old locomotives at Hilton Railway Station provide plenty of interest at Station Stop Coffee Shop.

In Hilton, find out more about Station Stop Coffee Shop

Hilton has at least two more popular offerings in Upper Millstone and Ground Coffee House, while the Quarry Centre has the busy Jaxx Restaurant and Nino’s Café, which both benefit from busy foot traffic in the centre.

Wartburg way

If you’re heading Wartburg way, Bridglee in Wartburg and Tranquili-tea in Greytown are well worth a visit, for coffee and light meals. We popped in to these a number of times on our paper run.

Pietermaritzburg is another whole indaba, which we’ll tackle another day. This could take a while. Feel free to email us some suggestions for the Maritzburg area at meanderchronicle@gmail.com or comment on this blog below.

The coffee culture is percolating nicely, bubbling away as people return to their routines post the hard lockdown and enjoy their daily and weekend sampling of the Midlands’ finest rocket fuel. Roll on good people!

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