Specialty Coffee is fast emerging and flourishing in many locations across the world. One such place is Fourways, Johannesburg, which has played home to the cafe and roastery Thirdspace. Thirdspace is fast approaching its second year of operation and has succeeded in creating a space that not only serves consciously sourced, roasted, and prepared coffee but has also created a welcoming co-working space. The aesthetics are clean and open, with plenty of room to enjoy the menu and see the baristas at work. We interviewed Thirdspace owner David Walsta to ask about their experience.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
How did Thirdspace come to be?
David Walstra: Thirdspace has been around for nearly 18 months but for many years before that, I was able to travel to Asia and fell in love with how they approach service as well as design and gathered a framework of what I thought the space could become. I then met Ben Jenkin (my business partner and roaster) on a coffee farm in Burundi and we moved to complete the picture of both what the café needed to be as well as building relationships at the source.
Thirdspace is a roastery as well as a cafe. What has been or is your favorite coffee to work with?
DW: Being a South African company, we love East African coffees. We have established relationships with producers in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia, and find all of these coffees incredible! We try to see the cup as more than purely its taste characteristics, and rather appreciate the livelihoods the cups represent. Therefore, our favorite coffee at the moment is probably our Vunga Rwanda espresso. We have a good relationship with this cooperative through our partners at Muraho Trading. In fact, we are taking a whole convoy of caffeine addicts with us next year, in an effort to develop a greater understanding of African coffee production.
What do you think of the South African coffee scene and how it has evolved over the past few years?
DW: Many people could argue, somewhat persuasively, that the South Africa scene is behind the curve. The average flat white here would cost you 1.80 USD, and we have some real struggles of sourcing direct and traceable coffee with the majority of coffees leaving our continent only to be reimported at greater expense.
We would argue that despite this, South Africa is in many ways ahead of the curve. Being one of the geographically closest markets for East African coffees we benefit hugely from jumping on a plane and being in Kigali or Bujumbura 3/4 hours later. We also are finding that large African corporations, many of whom headquartered in Johannesburg, SA - will readily get behind what we are trying to achieve and have chosen our beans for their coffee shops. In this way, we are trying to bring the best coffee (for the farmer, and the drinker) to the masses rather than the niche audience of so-called “third-wave” coffee.
How do you use Acaia on bar?
DW: We use the Pearl to weigh in every shot of coffee as well as for manual brewing on bar and use the lunar for weighing shots out. Our Orion Doser is used to weigh in specialty shots we grind on our EK43 and we use it to weigh out 250 g bags in bar to impress our customer when they purchase our beans.
What is your favorite aspect of Thirdspace?
DW: We love that we are building communities at Thirdspace and helping to build coffee communities upstream by supporting coffee farmers through generous trade.
Thank you so much for the interview!