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mischu – Cape Town’s Coffee Corner

by Kate Campell

Curious about the location of a snazzy Cape Town Coffee Corner? We found one buzzing in Sea Point. Check out what the EduConnect team got up to in mischu’s barista course. 

Walking into Sea Point’s corner café is dreadfully exciting. Knowing that we, the EduConnect team, are about to embark on a coffee-crazy journey with someone who has found his passion in the bean, I know my life is about to change forever. We have signed up for the beginners’ workshop at mischu – the coffee showroom to experience first-hand how to make a great cup of coffee.  We are about to find out that the coffee shop was named after its co-owner and founder Mikhael Bou Rjeily, nicknamed Mischu.

Upon arrival into the Coffee Academy, we are offered our choice of coffee – what a perfect way to begin the day! We are new customers at this point and get to experience the cup of coffee we are all so eager to learn how to engineer from scratch. Naturally, I go for a Flat White, not even thinking too much about the situation, and am surprised that Mischu asks me,

“How would you like it? Single or Double?”

I’m not even sure how to respond and feel like a real coffee snob for a second. Finally I decide to be bold and respond,

“I’ll have a double shot of espresso, please.”

As we take our first sip, the intensity of his Isabella blend creeps over our taste buds. The Isabella blend is sourced from Brazil, Guatemala and Costa Rica. It is named after Mischu’s daughter as they were both born in the same week and is the only blend served at his coffee showroom.

As a relaxed Mischu begins by introducing himself and his coffee showroom to us, my eyes wander around the room and enjoy the mural on the wall explaining the coffee-making process, from bean to hot beverage. As I admire the finely painted mural, Mischu draws my attention back to him with the line,

“A cup of coffee should be like hot custard.”

It is one of many lovely descriptions that would enhance our appreciation of the beverage. We go on to learn about the coffee-making process from two short documentaries.  Coffee beans grow on trees as red berries before they endure their separating and refining process. It is thus strikingly fitting that the coffee machine in the Coffee Academy section we are standing in stands out with its rich, red colour.

Beans in the Making

Mischu starts to explain how coffee beans are refined and handpicked based on their colour and ripeness.  The way Mischu personifies coffee beans as they go through their refining process brings me to a state of empathy towards them. Coffee beans endure a lot to become something worthy of our taste buds. He mentions elements such as moisture, temperature and exposure to sunlight or air, which could alter the coffee taste. The amount of time the beans spend in the roaster determines to what extent certain flavours are enhanced. For example, a darker roast brings out more bitterness and in some cases bakers’ chocolate notes. We learn that as the coffee bean is roasting, the sugar element in the bean caramelises and enhances the flavour of the coffee.

Expressing his amazement of the process, Mischu explains that before the beans are roasted they are green in colour and do not taste or smell like anything. To quote his enthusiasm,

“It is interesting how this amazing flavour comes out of a little green pip!”

I begin to ask myself who would have guessed there was so much to refining coffee beans before they reached our cup in their smooth, steaming state.

The Gadgets Brew

After our brief history and theory of coffee, Mischu begins to show us how to use various coffee gadgets such as the Aeropress, Chemex, Pourover, stove top espresso maker and the coffee plunger. With just one look at the different brewing gadgets I quickly doubt my ability to even make a general cup of coffee. He allows us to taste coffee prepared in different methods and recommends the Aeropress because it is the most efficient in terms of cleaning and it produces the smoothest brew. I must say, I certainly agree with him!

We ask Mischu while sipping the espresso cup of black coffee if food is served at his coffee showroom. He responds quite simply,

“No, because we are not good at making food. We make coffee, because we are good at making coffee.”

We enjoy his honest response and find a new appreciation for Mischu’s as an exclusive coffee bar and showroom. Pastries are served but the only kind they make on the premises are croissants, which are the perfect combination of buttery, crispy and exquisitely fresh. The muffins and speciality cakes are all ordered in.

In terms of coffee drinking, Mischu recommends that a Flat White should be sipped no more than two minutes after the barista has poured the velvety foam into the cup. At this point the sip includes a balanced consistency of the 3 parts of the Flat White according to Mischu, which are the espresso shot (of which +/-95% is water), the hot milk and the foamy milk. According to Mischu, it is necessary to swirl your cup three times clockwise and three times anticlockwise when your coffee gets to about half-way finished so as to reclaim that ‘first sip’ effect of all coffee components harmoniously quenching your watering palate.

All You Need Is Love

A quote from Maya Angelou rings true throughout my experience at mischu,

“People don’t remember what you said, they remember the way you made them feel.”

The experience of the course is more than just about the coffee and Mischu sharing a snapshot of his incredible coffee knowledge with us. With beautiful descriptions such as,

“The only way to treat your flat white is like a dessert. It’s not a HOT beverage, it’s a warm dessert,”

there is no way I can look at coffee or coffee-making the same way again.

Mischu treats us as his guests and this aligns totally with his aim in the business to keep it “modest and honest.” He mentions, “This comes naturally when the focus is good service before a good cup of coffee.” It’s an experience to remember and I’d recommend everyone who drinks coffee to take one of Mischu’s coffee training sessions. You don’t know what you’re missing out on until you are exposed to true coffee quality made with genuine, authentic love.

As a final musing, Mischu briefly mentions the opening of his new coffee shop in Woodstock called, Byblos Trading Co. Check out the website and social media pages here and keep in the loop for details about their official launch.

He also mentions his ‘Sponsorship Barista Programme.’ The programme is for unemployed people who have a desire to learn the skills of a barista, have a friendly personality and enjoy people.

“I want to equip people practically so they are able to work in different café environments,”

says Mischu.

What a great way to provide employment skills and increase the number of well-trained baristas in Cape Town. He currently has one trainee at the showroom in Sea Point, named Ivory. What a pleasure it is to have met him and see what he does.

Interested in Becoming a Barista?

Mischu trains one person at a time and he only advertises the program by word of mouth, follow the steps below and give Mischu a shout if you are interested.

  • You must be eager to learn, have a great personality, as well as be friendly and good with people.
  • Unemployed,  or have a temporary or part time job
  • Send your details to Mischu at info@mischu.co.za or give him a call on 0725638090
  • He’ll arrange an interview and shortlist the best to enter the complementary sponsorship training program.
  • Once the training process is completed, Mischu puts the new barista in contact with coffee shop owners/managers and hopefully you’ll be offered a full or part-time job.

Mischu is situated on the corner of Regent and Tramway roads in Seapoint. The address is, 85 Regent Road, Sea Point, Cape Town. Check out his website for more information at www.mischu.co.za.

EduConnect 2cents

Having a barista skill-set is something that will never go to waste. If you’re looking to grab a part-time job at a café then having a bit of an exposure to coffee making will go a long way. No matter what occupation you land yourself in, coffee has an ability to make the world go round. We know! Here at the EduConnect head office it has been a treat to put our new skills to the test and it feels good to offer people a professionally inspired cup of coffee.

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