Sorry Starbucks, Kloof Street doesn’t want you

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Sorry Starbucks, Kloof Street doesn’t want you. And quite frankly, as per vote in an unofficial popularity contest, neither does Muizenberg.

The announcement of the new Starbucks store in Kloof Street, Cape Town was met with a whole lot of negativity; 140 comments and counting. The response is something along the lines of: ‘tsek, and finding a “yay” between the “nay” is like searching for a needle in a haystack.

Starbucks launched in South Africa five years ago and after Taste holdings lost its taste for coffee and liquidated Domino’s Pizza, Rand Capital Coffee became the new licence holder of the Starbucks brand in Southern Africa in 2019. Today there are more than 25 stores in South Africa.

In an article in The Africa Report, CEO of Rand Capital Coffee, Adrian Maizey said that they are shifting focus away from malls with neighbourhoods being the next frontier. With the vision to also be at airports and petrol stations.

And here we thought Seattle Coffee Co. was our garage pie companion, and that our neighbourhoods were still a sacred place of home-grown taste.

Maizey, who was born and raised in South Africa (now based in Los Angeles), told Business Insider that “Starbucks is an iconic global brand, and when the opportunity arose to expand it into my home country…I grabbed the chance.”

Maizey. Dude. Come on. Respectfully Mister Maizey: come on. You are (were) one of us. You know the streets. You know the people. You know we like biltong and not jerky.

Starbucks — too corporate for Kloof Street?

Kloof Street is still relatively free of the big corporate disease. That’s why we love it.

We pop into Olive Branch Deli because there’s a story. We go to Coffee on Orange because the owner tells you “I don’t care if you sit here the whole day and only order one cup of coffee”. Come Covid-19 or TikTok, Arnolds is an institution. Molweni container-based coffee shop is the taste of honest we want. And we still miss seeing Myog… the new store replacement’s name might, like most things, fool you into thinking it is European, but it has New York written all over the stock-exchange.

And that’s why we love Kloof Street. That’s why Kloof Street is regarded as vibrant. It is a melting pot of hipsters and nuns, vegans and weekend bacon waffles, bergies and businesspeople, skateboarders and scholars. It is our neighbourhood. With its narrow side streets that operate as a stop-and-go, the pedestrian traffic light in the middle always testing your patience, and the slightly-off-loading-zone truck bringing the flow of traffic to a complete halt – it is our neighbourhood. And saying that “Kloof Street has a vibrant new resident on the block” is a slap in the block’s face.

Truthfully? It hurts a little bit. And it scares the caffeine out of our espresso. With McDonalds down the road (probably also an institution by now) and Starbucks and Häagen-Dazs being neighbours – how much more American will it get?

What’s next. Amazon?

Oh wait. Ja.

We are wrapped up in difficult times. The last year and a half we’ve seen the closure of many of our favourite restaurants and coffee shops, and crossing our fingers for something local is easier said than done. But it hurts.

And yes. We know. Before the we get beat over the head with a bag of coffee beans, proudly roasted in Africa – new stores, no matter what the name or chain, lead to job creations. And with unemployment at an all-time high in South Africa, we will take one caffeinated smack to the head. But our hearts are also taking a beating, we can’t help but to feel a freshly brew pot of cheated.

Moerse cheated.

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