As anyone associated with the coffee industry knows, producing the ultimate brew is a closely collaborative effort. From shrub, to cherry, to bean, to cup, this effort requires no small measure of dedication. So over the coming weeks, we thought we’d like to showcase those clients who’ve become our friends because they share our commitment to excellence.

Third in our Client Showcase Series is Centurion-based Heavenly Coffees, a micro-roaster of premium quality Arabica coffee beans. Established by Francois Dreyer, it all started when his passion for great coffee became a passionate coffee business. They started off with a little 1kg Tope Roaster imported from Turkey but soon upgraded – to a Genio Mezzo roaster! Heavenly Coffees supply both the highest quality coffee, brewing, and filter machines for purchase and rental to businesses across the board. The company maintains the machines, cleans them weekly and tops up stock as required. They also serve coffee and other hot beverages to thousands of happy customers every month.

Genio caught up with Francois Dreyer and asked him to tell us a bit more about his company as well as his commitment to producing the ultimate brew:

How long have you worked in the coffee industry?
Nearly 3 years officially – but we’ve been messing around with coffee for a lot longer.

How did Heavenly Coffees begin?
In the garage (well actually, in the dining room and then the garage) – it was a good place to start – it worked for Steve Jobs didn’t it?

What? You actually started up in the dining room?
Yes – the smell of coffee inside the house was great, but eventually we had to make a proper move. As I write this we are preparing for the next move – into a small factory!

What is the most rewarding aspect of the coffee industry for you?
Roasting is a bit like therapy – the concentration, the sound of the roaster, the beans popping, waiting for that exact moment when the symphony comes together for the final note – and then, of course, making a cappuccino or espresso (or any other coffee) and watching the expression of delight as customers take that first sip –man, that is so rewarding!

What do you like about roasting with a Genio roaster?
It’s local – I can get spares easily (not that I have needed any yet), I can pick up the phone and talk the main guy like a friend. I can ask him to come over and check out an issue and he does. Oh yes, and he’s a great guy!

Tell us about a special/magical roast you had with your Genio roaster? What was the origin of the beans, what settings did you use, what did the end product taste like – that sort of thing?
Trade secrets are a forbidden subject! Just joking… I have heard that we’re not alone in this, but my best blend comes from an accident. Because we are ‘heavenly’ I believe the angels brought it: Angel’s Brew – I accidentally roasted some Sidamo 4 that I was keeping for a client. The moment it came out of the roaster I saw my mistake. I took the coffee, parked it one side not sure what to do with it. Until then I had never used Sidamo 4. One day I grabbed it made up a blend and voila – the best blend for espressos and cappuccino’s ever! Roast Degree: all the beans in this blend get roasted to 223 deg. i.e just into 2nd crack. A nice medium dark roast (Full City).

What added features would you like to see in a (Genio) coffee roaster?
a. A window in the chaff bin – easy to spot that potential roaster fire – I have had a few close shaves!
b. The sampling spoon – (I see it is changed on the new model). 
c. The Vent flaps can be a bit sticky at times.
d. The Inspection light – I would like to see a much stronger light of the correct colour.
e. A small window in the bean hopper – to see if there are beans in the hopper at a glance.

What is the longest period that you have gone without coffee? What happened?
On a trip to China, no coffee a few days: no coffee on the plane, tried to make my own coffee in the room with my Aerobie press but it tasted terrible – (I made the mistake of using Chinese tap water – Agggh) then tried Starbucks out of desperation but it does not count as coffee. Only on my way back at the airport I had very good cappuccino (for R60 mind you).

What is the most unique/exotic coffee/coffee experience that you’ve ever had?
Way too many to mention!

What makes coffee special for you?
Everything – the taste, the mouth-feel, the moment to savior excellence while chilling – I get really upset when people mess up coffee.

What’s your favourite type of coffee/How do you enjoy your coffee?
I love all sorts of coffee. A Columbian and Uganda for pour-overs, my own blends for Cappuccinos – my favourite Cappuccino, Cortado or an Espresso with a little steamed milk (fill the espresso cup to the top with milk).

What’s been the feedback from your customers about your signature product? Is there one special thing your customers just can’t get enough of?
We recently did coffee at the Wine-X and at the IFEA expo – people absolutely raved about our Angel’s Brew!

What’s the next step for Heavenly Coffees?
We are opening our roaster in Hennops Park in the next few weeks. It will be open for the public to visit, to buy coffee and to enjoy a great cup. People will also be able to buy all their coffee accessories like pour-overs, machines, spoons, scales etc. We will also be offering a selection of coffee from other small roasters that is not freely available elsewhere to give customers a really comprehensive choice.

Do you think South Africa still has a far way to go in a global coffee culture?
The last ten years coffee have really come a long way – fifteen years ago you would be hard pressed to find a small coffee roaster anywhere, now they are everywhere! To sum it up we have come a long way from where we were, but we are long way from where we should be!

What advice do you have for aspiring coffee: roasters, baristas, connoisseurs, designers, and entrepreneurs out there?
Great coffee isn’t complicated – you don’t need expensive machines or equipment – just some basics. To get the absolute best out of coffee is a different story – it takes years of practice and learning and even then you may not get it right. Finally, the moment you think you really know coffee, you actually know nothing! This business keeps you humble…

See some photos from Heavenly Coffees:

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