Five of the Best Coffee shops on the Midlands

posted in: KwaZulu-Natal | 6


What makes a place your favourite?

Whether it be a Vay Kay spot or a restaurant or even a gym?  For me, it’s what I call, the One Thing.  Allow me to elucidate. There is One Thing, whether it be food, drink, atmosphere, décor, music, people, that will keep me coming back to a place time and time again. Sure, I might like a place for a number of reasons… but it is the One Thing, the defining reason, that lures me back.

I get friends asking me where they can find a good cup of coffee or cake experience on the Midlands Meander.   Yes, you heard me right. Not just a cup of coffee, or a slice of cake…..but an experience.  You have to experience the Midlands. The answer always differs because it is weighted by your definition of your One Thing combined with all the other factors that makes the experience so special.

So why all the explanation? Well, I am going to let you in on my One Thing for five of my favourite places and what I consider to be the best coffee shops in the Midlands Meander. Prepare to have your experience list expand…

Just a quick proviso, the coffee at all these establishments is varying levels of great to blow your mind superb. For any place I frequent, this is a must.

Blueberry Cafe

Nottingham Road area


Blueberry Cafe, Nottingham Road
Blueberry Cafe, Nottingham Road

Inspiration. This place just makes you feel great. You walk in and are attracted to the strawberries growing on the walls in planters and the wooden tables amply lit by streaming sun from the huge skylight. The shop which has found some creative uses for everyday items is a treasure trove for those wanting an unusual gift.  Coffee shop to the left and around the front of the building taking advantage of the sweeping views of the farmlands surrounding Nottingham Road towards Rosetta and the Kamberg. You can even see the recently dammed Springgrove dam. It is hard to concentrate on much aside from the view.  Especially when the mountains are donning a snowy blanket.

Breakfast here is special and is served up on a platter with a number of fresh juices. I have on occasion found breakfast turning into lunch. It’s that good.

Chris, the Manager, is very engaging and will most likely pop by for a chat.

Okay, so…. My One Thing:           Blueberry Cheesecake


Blueberry cheesecake
Blueberry cheesecake

You have to try it to understand! The blueberries are freshly grown and handpicked. Apparently they are very finicky things to take care of. But the health benefits are through the roof. Of course, for those watching their points on diet, cheesecake has to be the lesser of all evils.  Putting a mouthful of this cheesecake in has to be experienced with eyes closed.  The texture is so smooth and creamy it makes milk chocolate seem granular.  As this heavy silkiness glides over your palate, the explosion of flavour from the blueberries surprises you and you are left digging in for the next mouthful.

Warning:  You will be back for more.




Barbz Café and Deli

Gowrie Village, Nottingham Road

Barbz Cafe & Deli
Barbz Cafe & Deli

The first time I visited this Café was before a fly fishing competition. It was cold and I needed warming up. The stone exterior of the building and cottagey style décor pulled me in. I love the fact that there are couches alongside the more regular table and chair seating. It is so inviting for those of us who would love to come back with a book someday. After perusing the home made goodies displayed on all the shelves and having some difficulty choosing something to nibble on from the cakes beautifully on show, I proceeded to a corner couch to get some Facebook on (don’t judge me, everyone has their guilty pleasures).  The coffee came in a jug.  I kid you not.  But when the cake arrived I had a sneaky suspicion that I had walked into a land of giants. The slice was as big as the generous sideplate.

My One Thing:                  Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake

The carrot cake is a luscious, moist, eat some more experience.  The icing could cause a minor riot in some places. It’s that good.  The cake also has pineapples in, which I found unusual but absolutely delicious. I am almost certain that you cannot finish a slice that size, but taking the rest home with you is such a treat. Don’t say I didn’t warn you though, as before, you will be back for more.


Steampunk Café

Lions River, Thokans Garage

Owner : Michael Goddard
Meanderings : Steampunk Coffee, Michael Goddard

The unusual ‘hole in the wall’ coffee experience. This is not a restaurant, although there are chairs if you want to spend some time chatting and drinking your very fine artisan coffee.   The décor is typically Steampunk, which by my definition is romantic Victorian crossed with Industrial punk. A real fantasy world experience (excuse the ironic oxymoron). Michael Goddard is always ready to brew you up your favourite caffeinated beverage of choice. His precision in producing this liquid gold is so consistent that you start salivating on the way to the shop in anticipation.  He has to be the most chilled out, yet consistently excellent barista I know. #justsaying

Some of the goodies to sort out your munchies are decadent brownies, power bars, scrumptious pies (only the home made type here) and Lindt Macaroons (which are mouthful upon mouthful of fantasy come true).

The music here sets the atmosphere in place. I love music but am not terribly good at remembering band names. I think everytime I leave I am investigating some group I haven’t heard of or genre I have not fully explored. This will always have me smiling.

My One Thing:                  Cilli Mocha

Mocha Chilli
Mocha Chilli

I started this in summer but have enjoyed it thoroughly in the cold Midlands winter. It gives the extra heat kick that you want to get warm (kind of like jump starting a vehicle) without overpowering the espresso or chocolate. And guess what, its legal!

Wanda’s Café

Just beyond Midmar Dam

Wandas Cafe
Wandas Cafe

Have you visited and read Wanda’s story yet? Well do yourself a favour and step into his world at Wanda’s Café and read how Wanda became the Wonder he is.  Situated on the same premises as The Farmers Daughter, Wanda’s Café is (okay I am going to bust a new term out here – go make it real for me if you would) Shabby South African Chic! I love everything about it. Beautiful chairs with mismatched cushions, newspaper on the floor (try pick up that R20 note), farmstyle wooden tables and gorgeous light fittings.

The latte art produced by Wanda could bring a story book to life. It is a delight waiting to see what you will get.

There are some seriously decadent niceties to tempt your tastebuds here.  Of the options, the lemon meringue is an experience of balance. Combining the tartness of the lemon dessert with the balanced sweetness of the meringue in a jar that will keep you busy for a while.


My One Thing:                  Wanda’s Story

Wandas Story
Wanda’s Story

We all like a good story. Especially when it is true. So visit Wanda’s Café and read his story written on the wall to find out how the road he walked to become the Barista he is.


Essence Deli Café

Chatterton Road, The Square, Pietermaritzburg

Essence Deli Cafe
Essence Deli Cafe

Okay, so Pietermaritzburg isn’t strictly the Midlands Meander, but it is in the Midlands right? This is the kind of place that I could sit chatting for hours with friends. Oh, hold on, I already have. The décor makes me think of Capetonians. Laid back and a place you could chill out at.  Exposed brick surfaces, fantastic chandeliers, comfortable chairs and couches around a huge fireplace.   There is nothing quite like sipping your favourite hot beverage next to a crackling fire on an oversize couch.  Well, for me at least.

The food here is tantalising.  I have a sweet tooth, but both savoury and sweet here have impressed me. The Nutella crepes are enough to elicit a firm commitment to gym for the next two weeks, but oh so worth it!

My One Thing:                  Luxury hot chocolate with espresso

Luxury Chocolate Espresso
Luxury Chocolate Espresso

They are not kidding. It is certainly luxury. The only comparison that comes to mind is draping oneself in a luxurious faux fur blanket while sitting in front of a big fireplace. Luxury and comfort. Essentially this is a mocha coffee but with a twist. The chocolate is lying a third of a spoon deep at the bottom of the mug. Stir it up gently if you can, even though you want to eat it out of the mug.  Trust me, the combination is worth waiting for.


All of these places are special in their own right and your One Thing may be different to mine.  So now that you have my list, what is yours? I would be happy to expand my experience list.  Please feel free to share, I so do love a good experience.  See you on the road…

Follow Carmen:

I take the path less travelled and hope to get photo's along the way. Also enjoy a bit of adventure, especially when shared.

6 Responses

  1. John

    I can’t believe that you missed Terbodore coffee with their incredible Great Danes. Terbodore is one of the top coffee roasters in the country as well as being a lovely coffee shop with some amazing food and amazing dogs.

    • Carmen

      Hi John. I know there are so many to choose from. I am heading out there soon, so watch this space for a future blog post. Thanks for reading and the feedback 🙂

  2. Cindy

    Hi Carmen

    Enjoyed your article. Have been to all 5 of these coffee shops and love Steampunk (coolest barista agreed!), Wanda’s and Barbz! My top 3 in the Midlands would include Terbodore in Curry’s post and Top 5 would include Sagewood cafe in Pmb. Worth a mention and a whirl is Pizzology in Pmb – very nice cappuccino’s and served in the most unusual glasses which is not normally my thing but was surprisingly nice.
    Here’s to discovering more hidden little gems, and here’s to good coffee. Cheers!

    • Carmen

      Hi Cindy. I love Pizzology’s glasses too! In fact I have done a couple of Instagram shots (guilty pleasure). Terbodore is definitely one of my favs, heading out there soon for a post. Keep your eyes peeled 🙂 Thanks for reading and the feedback.

    • Carmen

      I did one of my first posts on them. Wanda’s Cafe is on the same premises as Farmer’s Daughter 🙂

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