Wayne Oberholzer talks all things coffee

Wayne Oberholzer barista

Hello lovelies! There are a few things that make my heart happy, family, friends, wine and good coffee. There’s something magical about walking into a coffee shop, smelling the freshly roasted beans, before indulging into that freshly brewed cup. My love for coffee is evident, I feel like something is missing if its 9am and I have not had my fix.

Have you ever wondered how Cape Town’s coffee culture compares to the rest of the world? What makes people passionate about coffee or if there’s a future for instant coffee? Wayne Oberholzer, coffee entrepreneur and SA Barista Champion (2012 & 2016) is here to answer all. His inspirational story is full proof that a hobby can turn into a career, if you are dedicated, passionate and prepared to put in the hard work.

Why are you passionate about coffee?

Not many people know this… but I used to hate coffee. Hear me out, I used to drink Nescafe 3 times a year with 7 spoons of sugar and as much milk as I could cram into the cup. I didn’t enjoy it and found the taste quite terrible. Fast forward to 2008. I was half way through my commercial pilots’ license and was looking for other ways to fund my flying. My friend offered me a job at Colombo in Durban and I was like… Coffee?? Hmmm… Ok. I wasn’t prepared for the journey ahead. 3 months later I entered my first Barista competition. I was completely sold on the whole vibe around coffee: the passion, the knowledge, and the people.

Since then I have made coffee in most parts of South Africa, Mauritius, Reunion, The Maldives, Australia, Turkey, Austria, Ireland, London, Italy, France and the list is growing. I have trained people from all walks of life, made some friends for life and experienced things most of us dream about. The passion for coffee is universal. The thirst for knowledge is insatiable and I’ve met some of the most amazing people along my journey.

Wayne Oberholzer

Your favourite coffee shop …

It depends on the mood, but here are my favourites:

  • I like going to Origin for eggs benedict and some pour over.
  • Billy Boo’s for that cozy vibe and a delicious Flat White.
  • Espresso lab for just their super flavoursome coffee and knowledge.

What is your opinion on the coffee culture in South Africa and how does it compare to the rest of the world?

The coffee culture in South Africa is young but passionate. If you think about, when was the start of great coffee in SA? I’m not talking about standard M&B or Wimpy style coffee. I am referring to coffee shops like Origin and Bean there. Those guys are just over 10 years old. That’s where great coffee started. Whilst other coffee cities such as London or Melbourne, may have started their journeys a lot earlier than us, we are fast becoming known worldwide for the quality of coffee produced here. Cape Town is for sure the hub of great coffee in South Africa. When people send me photos of Rosetta being poured with pride in Dubai, or when barista’s in London ask me about Origin and Espresso Lab, I know we’ve started making our mark. Being young, there is still a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about the constitution of great coffee. However, it is changing.

What are some of the basic home equipment one can use to enhance the coffee flavour?

The number one bit of gear has to be the grinder. When you grind the espresso, it loses about 75% of its flavour in around 4 minutes. The flavours won’t degrade as quickly, and the improvement of taste is undeniable. Secondly, I would highly recommend using a Brita system for the water. It’s helps to remove chlorine from the water and will make a big difference in the taste.

Wayne Oberholzer talks coffee

You started your own business supplying coffee and equipment to various businesses. Tell us more about the Portland Project.

The Portland Project was built from 10 years of industry experience. I wanted to create a company that fills certain gaps in the market. Our main goal is to bring the best the world has to offer in all aspects of coffee. Be that the equipment used to brew, the roasters and most importantly, the training given to people. When I consult with my clients, I always ask them, what are your coffee goals? Thereafter I build a road map to help them achieve their goals. No one in the country will teach you how to roast, but we do. We’re a young company with huge potential and mass amounts of experience.

There are plenty of people who still drink instant coffee. How do we change this?

Ha ha ha, how do you stop people from drinking boxed wine? Instant coffee has its place in the market. Nespresso is actually poised to take over the instant market. It is predicted in 4 – 5 years, people will look for that easy and quick solution to fulfil their needs. Education and experience is key here. Once you can show people that there are ways to quickly and easily make great coffee at home or the office, you will have a shift in their thought process.

If you’d like to find out more about the Portland Project, visit https://www.facebook.com/PortlandProject/#!/PortlandProject/

Image credit: Craig Kolesky

Love and light,


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