by Sarah Schach

In South Africa, the coffee culture has grown tremendously over the past ten years and more especially in the last five years. It is unusual to walk down a street in any urban area in South Africa without coming across a coffee shop. Chances are that it won’t only be one of a chain of coffee shops, but a unique, stand-alone shop. There is a gush in the number of people who are drinking coffee and this is impacting on awareness and quality.

The South African coffee history goes back as far as the early 1900’s. Thomas William Beckett founded T W Beckett & Company in 1875 with his grocery shop in Pretoria, later expanding it into a much bigger shop. Thomas Beckett and his co-directors James Hill and John Paddon and with stores in both Pretoria and Johannesburg, were joined by Phillip Gawith in the early 1900’s. In 1912 they established their Durban office and followed by their first tea and coffee factory, in Durban. T W Beckett formed a partnership in the late 1930’s with the chicory farmers around Alexandria, which assisted them during the war years of limited coffee supply, to keep the shelves filled with coffee and chicory mixed products.

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