Words: Kit Heathcock | Images: Supplied

It was always Fritz Schoon’s vision to create what he calls a “manufactory”, an artisan production space for his breads, after famous Parisian baker Lionel Poilâne, who coined the name from “manual factory”. After leaving the Oude Bank building in central Stellenbosch where his first bakery gained a devoted following, Fritz and his wife, Chanelle, have streamlined their operation and made it happen.

The airy light industrial space at the outer end of Stellenbosch’s Bird Street is as different as you can get from their previous quirky old wood interior, but the same spirit pervades it. Marble-topped tables and mismatched old chairs create a welcoming cafe space, while behind the counter – glowing with tempting pastries and shelves of freshly baked loaves – the bakery action carries on. “The idea is to centralise our production space,” says Chanelle. “The core team from our old bakery produce for all our shops.

Everything is baked here and delivered daily, so you get the same quality whether you’re here or in our Somerset West cafe.” They’ve taken a gamble opening the cafe in the light industrial area on the edge of town but since they opened in June, Schoon’s local following has welcomed them back delightedly, and the cafe has a constant stream of customers popping by for breakfast, coffee and pastries, or a light lunch. It’s impossible to resist taking home a loaf of bread or two straight from the ovens – gorgeous Schoon sourdough, crusty chewy rustique, dark rye, or the country loaf, perfect for school sandwiches.

I sampled the Essene bread toast (baked from sprouted organic wheat) piled with herby ricotta and lemony mushrooms – simple, fresh and delicious. New on the menu is a warming bowl of mieliepap, doused in burnt honey butter and toasted almonds, golden from the organic mieliemeel grown in Prieska by Bertie Coetzee, who grows all the speciality grains for Fritz. Soups in winter and salads in summer celebrate seasonal, local ingredients and showcase the different breads.

Their Schoon espresso blend and all-too-tempting pastries can also be enjoyed in the De Wet Centre off Church Street, at the new Schoon croissant and coffee hatch, a tiny, riotously colourful space with a few seats in the sunny courtyard, perfect to grab a quick fix of heavenly pasteis de nata, or a luscious filled croissant.

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