The Coffee Mag

Coffee lovers can rejoice as there is a new print and online publication aimed directly at the caffeine fiends. Mel Winter and Iain Evans have teamed up to bring you TheCoffeeMag, a Durban based publication about coffee and coffee culture in South Africa. We chat to Mel and Iain about coffee, publishing and the future of both.

DIY: Who is involved with TheCoffeeMag? What are each of their roles in the publication and its online endeavour?

Mel: Currently the core team is just the two of us, Iain Evans and Mel Winter. Iain owns True North Media which publishes TheCoffeeMag and he is the ad sales guy across both the magazine and online platforms. I’m the editor of the magazine and the online content manager. But we couldn’t do it without our cracking support team: Jon Ivins, our designer, and Patrick Krause our IT guy.


DIY: When and how did the concept of the magazine come about? What do you think its publication means for the South African coffee/barista industry? Where do you hopefully see yourselves in 5 years time?

Iain: TheCoffeeMag was born out of my existing love for making magazines, (I’ve previously published SA Paddler magazine, Blunt magazine, ZigZag surfing magazine, SaltwaterGIRL surf and theBOMBsurf mags) and travelling the coastline surfing and visiting all the amazing coffeeshops along the coast while making theBOMBsurf. We published out of those coffee shops for 4 years like that! Then I met Mel in 2010 and she wanted to surf, and I wanted to find out more about the technical side of coffee, so it kinda grew naturally to the point where we were like, “Hey, let’s publish a coffee mag and website”. That was about 3 months ago.

I think the publication will take a lot of the knowledge that the baristas in SA have, and create a platform and a medium where the general public can have access to that knowledge. We have an amazing and passionate community of coffee lovers in SA, but until now, no media to bring it all together and connect everyone. I hope TheCoffeeMag does just that.

I think in 5 years time, the convergence of technology and information will have become so inseparable, that accessing information and entertainment will be like telepathically plugging into “The Stream”. The jobs and careers of media owners like us that will be most popular don’t even exist now. We haven’t imagined them yet. Whatever they are, we will be doing the 2017 version of what we’re doing now.


DIY: What criteria were you and Ian using when you approached the coffee shops you wanted to be part of this project? Is there a certain type of coffee shop you were looking to avoid? Are you hoping that with this project the industry as a whole tries to ‘up its game’, so to speak.

Mel: We really want everyone to be a part of the project, that’s the goal here: to create a culture across the nation which inspires a higher standard of coffee from bean to cup at every cafe. People are slowly becoming more discerning about what’s in their cup, as they become more knowledgeable they’ll demand more from their cafes. This process is already starting to happen organically, but with this kind of platform we hope to nudge things along in an entertaining and rewarding way.

For example, look at The Cafe Society competition that has been running in Durban for over 10 years now. While people have their gripes with it , the positive thing is that it truly has raised awareness about coffee to a broader audience and I think it has in some way affected the standard here, I always hear visitors (even CT ones) saying that Durban is producing some really amazing coffee.

Where we are now, at the start, it makes the most sense to partner with the speciality cafes, like The Factory Cafe, Bean Green, LoveCoffee in Durban, because they have the passion that inspires people to get involved with this coffee thing. They’re at the pinnacle, making the coffee we want everybody to taste, because it will blow. Your. Mind. Once you’ve gone gourmet, it’s really difficult to go back to average. And if you’re paying upwards of R15 for a cup of coffee, then it should be flipping delicious.


DIY: What other establishments in Durban have lent a helping hand in this initiative’s growth? Are you still looking for more people to work with?

Mel: We have been overwhelmed by the support we’ve been met with all over the country. Durban is our hometown and we are extremely proud of the growing culture here. It’s been really amazing to start to get to know everyone better. The whole Colombo team, Judd from Corner Cafe and LoveCoffee, Deon from The Coffee Merchant, Justin from Jooma up the hill, and last but certainly not least my dad, Peter Winter and The Bean Green team for supporting me in a new venture.

We are always looking for more people to work with. The mag and the website are platforms for the coffee community (both those who drink it and those involved in the industry) to get involved and share their experiences and talents and love for coffee. We want contributions from all those voices.



DIY: What factor/s do you think have contributed to ‘coffee culture’ growing so rapidly in Durban? Can this city handle more coffee shops opening or will soon be a case of too many fingers in one pie?

Iain: I think Durban has always had its own creative and entrepreneurial spirit that’s defined it. Coffee is a creative and entrepreneurial space in its own right, so its natural that Durban evolved its own coffee culture. Just look at the Cover story of this issue of TheCoffeeMag. Brad Armitage and Rui Esteves were mates from surfing at North Beach. They started Fresssh (remember that?) here, then they started Vida in CT, now they’re &Union. Vida started a coffee revolution! There are spans of those characters here. Judd. Pete. Kyle. Justin. Bernard. As far as the fingers-in-one-pie question goes, I reckon that we haven’t even seen the start of the coffee boom here yet from a consumer point of view. Most people still drink instant coffee at home! Just wait 18 months until all those folks discover pure coffee. Snakes alive, it’s going to be wild! A roastery in every suburb – now that would be sweet! Open yours now.


DIY: What has the response been from the public with the release of the 1st edition of the magazine? Where can our avid coffee drinkers nab a copy?

Mel: Shew, again just overwhelmingly positive! We couldn’t be happier with the feedback so far, from both the people in the cafes who are just beginning their coffee exploration to industry people who know what’s what. This is just the beginning! We are only going to get bigger and better and more beautiful with each edition, we have big plans, huge! Can you tell I’m excited?

You can get your very own copy by subscribing online here: signup asap. It will be delivered to the cafe you choose from our list of those participating. We are growing that list all the time. If you have a suggestion or you are a cafe owner who wants to get involved email me : [email protected] The good news is, if you still want to get a copy of Issue 1, you can go to the participating cafes:

Book Boutique – Toti

Corner Café – Glenwood

Bean Green – Glenwood

EarthMother Organic – Glenwood

The Factory Café – Umbilo

Market – Berea

The Fat Croissant – Berea

LoveCoffee – Morningsde

88 Degrees – Gateway

Sprigs – Kloof

Jooma – Kloof


They have extra copies and subscription forms, so you don’t have to miss out on the first ever The Coffee Mag.


DIY: What was the reasoning for making the 1st 10 000 subscriptions free?

Iain: I think coffee as a sub-culture is still very fringe right now. There are definitely a couple of thousand people in SA who take their coffee seriously, and it’s their life. Their hobby is to make coffee, to try new coffee, to investigate coffee machines, try new methods, understand the roasting art and visit new cafes as their leisure experience. These people wouldn’t hesitate to spend R35 on a coffee magazine. But in publishing we talk about “media pressure” being a certain number, a tipping point if you like, where the number of mags, influencing the quantity of coffee information becomes significant and creates a common discourse of coffee conversation – I think 10 000 is where that number is, but I don’t think 10 000 people would pay R35. So if we make it free, they’ll definitely take a copy, the discourse is created, and BOOM, over 18 months or so a unified coffee community exists.


DIY: Can we look forward to seeing barista competitions taking place more frequently? How would the public or interested parties find out about these competitions?

Mel: The National Barista Champs happen but once a year in each region. Lovejoy Chirambasukwa took top honours at this year’s event. He’s on his way to Melbourne next year May, watch this space for the build up to that.

The hope is that barista jams and latte art comps will take place more often as the acknowledgement of the skills and talent of these guys is recognised. It’s really helpful to prepare the baristas for serious competition and to get the camaraderie and friendly competition going between cafes, it’s so useful for the baristas to see what’s out there beyond their own counter.

Also I just have to urge the public to engage with the amazing person who is making that life changing cup for you everyday, these guys and girls are heroes! Coffee-related events, like cup tastings and expos etc are starting to happen more frequently all over the country. The idea is that they will all be shared through TheCoffeeMag web platform, we’re keeping our finger to the caffeinated pulse of Durban and South Africa.


You can find out more about coffee than you ever thought possible on TheCoffeeMag’s website.

5 Responses to “The Coffee Mag”
  1. Micaela says:

    This magazine is just delightful. A bigger and better coffee culture in Durban? Yes, please!

  2. Janey says:

    Definitely want to check this out. Thanks for making it free, makes it so much easier to decided whether or not to pick it up 🙂

  3. This is such a brilliant idea.
    I wish you guys the greatest of luck.

  4. victoria brennan says:

    Really enjoyed The Coffee Mag, learnt a whole bunch more about coffee too.

  5. sibusisiwe says:

    i really enjoyed the last years mag and i was looking forward for this years one
    but i still have’nt received it

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