South AfricaWild Bean Cafe (BP Express, Forest Drive, Pinelands)
After a Saturday-morning outing to the Old Biscuit Mill and the Art Decko 2 exhibition that had been running at the "what if the world?" exhibition space in Woodstock, Cape Town, Doane and I decided to detour slightly while on our way back through the Southern Suburbs and stop at the Wild Bean Cafe at the BP Service Station in Forest Drive, Pinelands, another Cape Town suburb.

The Wild Bean Cafe at the BP Express in Pinelands

The Wild Bean Cafe is housed inside the BP Express shop, which is situated on the forecourt of the BP Service Station. There are a few parking bays outside, or you can drive a few metres down St. Stephens Road and park in the small parking lot next to the cricket field and opposite the Town Hall.

The Wild Bean Cafe: a selection from the menu

The BP Express is your typical petrol-station convenience store, selling magazines, junk food, and basic necessities. The Wild Bean Cafe sells a selection of hot drinks, prepared meals, and snacks, such as sandwiches, subs, hot dogs, pies, burgers, muffins, croissants, and chip 'n dips.

The Wild Bean Cafe: barista on the left, coffee menu on the right

You place and pay for your order with the shop assistant behind the Wild Bean Cafe counter, and the assistant then makes the coffee. It is served in a cardboard cup, along with a plastic lid. Everything else is pretty much self service - there is a basket on the side of the counter that has a selection of sugar packets, as well as long, plastic drink stirrers (and not, unfortunately, spoons). You can either sit down and drink your coffee in the small seating area or go off on your business.

The Wild Bean Cafe: the two-table cafe - watch out for other people's crumbs!

The seating area comprises two tables, both of which were dirty (yay!), and, when we got there, two stools, although a third appeared from somewhere later for another customer who wanted to sit at the other table.

The Wild Bean Cafe: mine on the left, Doane's on the right

As you can see, my cappuccino, on the left, was presented to me with a giant, unattractive hole in the foam, whereas Doane's, on the right, is much more appealing (lucky him). Presentation counts....

I realised, while trying to consume my cappuccino, that I've become rather dependent on having a spoon, as I tend to use it to eat most of the foam first (usually while waiting for the coffee to cool slightly) and then thoroughly mix the rest into the coffee. This is completely impossible to do with a stirrer, and I'm sure Doane found my subconscious struggles, while being preoccupied with mulling over various rating aspects of the coffee, quite entertaining. I, however, just became increasingly frustrated.

The Wild Bean Cafe: detail shots of the swizzle sticks and gunge

The coffee was quite hot, which Doane, who comes here all the time, warned me about, but I absentmindedly took a sip too soon and then burnt my tongue, much to his amusement.

As we left the shop one of the assistants called out to us to ask if we had enjoyed the cappuccino, and I replied that we had. I guess they had been enjoying the testing spectacle (I can't imagine how odd it must look, what with me with the camera and the pencil and the notebook...), as two of them had been sitting behind the counter watching us intently, as has been the other customer.

The Wild Bean Cafe is wild about coffeeThe PR stuff: the following text appears on the back of the coardboard coffee cup, so I present it here, verbatim, for your amusement:


We roast the finest Arabica beans from tropical coffee plantations in Africa and South America. The Wild Bean boasts a slow roast process for a richer, full bodied coffee.

It's a jungle out there, tame yourself with a Wild Bean Cafe coffee."

By the way, you may want to have a look at the Wild Bean Cafe web site for purposes that have nothing to do with coffee. For some reason the pages display random facts that are disturbing and - certainly in the case of the "Is your computer's secret password really secret?" bit - completely inaccurate (South African law dictates that it's illegal, unless you sign away your rights). The random facts are all archived on this page. What is the point of all of this, I wonder? To discourage you from visiting a Wild Bean Cafe? Who knows.

South Opinion
Where: Inside the BP Express at the BP Service Station, Forest Drive, Pinelands, Cape Town, South Africa
Hours: n/a
Phone: +27 21 531 6461
When: 7 October 2006
Size: There is only one size option (350ml/12 ounces) and it is a really good size, especially considering the price [9/10].
Foam: The foam was about 1.5cm thick, and not particularly noteworthy. There was a huge, unattractive pouring dent through my foam, but Doane's was fine. Coffee granules were sprinkled on top [4/10].
(Cream Note: This is a standard, one-size, (almost) no-options cappuccino, so there isn't a cream option.)
Heat: Pretty damn hot (way too hot) [9/10].
Coffee: At first I wasn't at all impressed with the taste of the coffee, as it seemed very similar to instant coffee to me, but I started liking it more and more as I continued drinking it and, later in the day, I was still having happy thoughts about it. According to the cardboard cup (so it must be true) the coffee is made from the finest Arabica beans from tropical coffee plantations. Once the cappuccino was finished there were a few granules left at the bottom of the cup [6/10].
(Coffee Note: A decaffeinated option is available.)
Price: R9.95 [?] (a very good price considering the size of the cup) [9/10].
Overall: The presentation sucked, as did the lack of a spoon, but the size was great. At first I wasn't at all impressed with the taste of the coffee but it grew on me as time went by. The foam was pretty forgettable [7/10].
Primary Tester: Mandy J Watson
Secondary Tester: Doane Smuts Comments