Words and images: Kit Heathcock
The inspiring story of Cartel Coffee is one of hard-working employees becoming successful business-owners. Co-owner Roland Ncube tells us the story, and about their new café which they opened in September alongside the latest Inner City | Ideas Cartel shared office and co-working space, at the Old Foundry in De Waterkant.
How did your business start?
Back in 2013 I was employed at the first Inner City | Ideas Cartel at 71 Waterkant to provide a coffee service. In 2015 they offered Richard, Abe and myself the opportunity to run the coffee bar in the co-working space as our own business. At first we were known as Three Men and a Cup, because that is what we were! There have been ups and downs and plenty of challenges the same as in any business, but three years later we’re going strong. We opened a second coffee bar at ICii at 113 Loop and then in September 2018 we created our first café at the new Old Foundry IC iii space serving food as well as coffee. We all had barista training, either at Origin Coffee or in Johannesburg. Now we’re training our own guys as baristas as the business grows.
Why did you choose this area to set up shop?
We are linked to the Inner City | Ideas Cartel so wherever they go we go. This is a good location, our café is visible from Ebenezer Road and there is quite a lot of passing foot traffic, as it connects De Waterkant to the Waterfront.
Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?
Having the outside terrace with space for tables and umbrellas makes for a great relaxed vibe. We braai outside for lunches and the covered grill catches people’s eye as they are passing and brings them in to see what’s happening.
Who are your neighbours?
The other businesses in the Old Foundry, Beluga, Table 13, office blocks and a call centre.
What are the rental / sales prices like in this area?
We have a special rate as we are providing a service to the Inner City | Ideas Cartel clients.
How many people visit your business each day?
Usually about 60 or so – we have a captive audience of all those working here, probably 60% of our business is from them, with repeat orders through the day. The rest from passing traffic and nearby offices.
Do you have any expansion plans?
Our expansion is linked to that of Inner City | Ideas Cartel, so when they open a new office and co-working space we set up a new Cartel Coffee bar.
Do you operate online as well?
We have an in-house app for those working here, so they can order their coffees through it and be billed monthly.
What’s your most popular item?
Our Friday lunches cooked on the braai grill – we’re usually packed from 12 until sunset.
073 430 0082