Cafe Focus: Toro Coffee

Thursday, 21 May, 2020

We chatted to Etienne of Toro Coffee to see how this wonderful brand that started in Potch is doing. They've sprouted multiple branches and are an energetic and deliciously caffeinated team!

What was it like putting together your beautiful cafes?

When we started out we had to do most of the shop fitting ourselves.  We had a lot of passion but did not have a lot of experience or a big budget for setting up the cafe, but we had a goal in mind and tried to accomplish this as good as we could.  We’ve since renovated probably on a yearly basis as we are still not were we want to be, but we are getting close;-)  With our other two locations, we had a good idea of what we wanted to do in the spaces available and luckily we’ve met a lot of contractors (that also became friends) during our time in the industry to know what we can leave to the experts.  The space is not perfect but it is home, we are more concerned about what you feel when you visit than what you see.

What is the ethos of your business?

We are a family and there will always be more space around the table for anyone to join our family.  We care for everyone that forms part of Toro, whether you are a customer, supplier or working for the company.  Toro means “dream” in Tswana (local language spoken in Potch) and we want everyone that works with us to fulfil their dreams.  

Tell us what makes the space special to you?  

The people.  The space will mean nothing without the people.  Our heart is really about building community and creating a space where people can connect and build relationships.  

What do you love most about being in the coffee industry?

Coffee = community

We’ve met so many people in the coffee industry that makes us want to dream even bigger and make an even bigger impact in the lives of people connected in someway to the industry.  Whether it means supporting local or buying fair trade (generous trade) it gives us the platform to be a part of that change.  We would love to see a new standard of doing business being set and we believe that that is achievable through coffee.  

How important are regulars to the fabric of day cafe life?

Regulars are a part of the DNA of any cafe.  You are known for the people that regularly occupy a space in the cafe.  For us it means getting to know people and building trust so that we can also impact their lives or let them impact ours.  It is so rewarding to share in the joy of someone or perhaps knowing when to support someone in a time of need.  This is only possible when the relationship has formed through regular interaction.  We value regulars more than what we can put into words.  They are the people that support our DREAM and make it possible to do what we love.

Name one menu item that we would never expect or have heard of before - a uniquely Toro creation! (food or beverage)

The Gabe.  This drink has 4 espresso shots over ice with a dash of fresh cream.  Named after a good friend that likes his coffee strong!!

How are you passing the time in lockdown? Give us your favourite silly thing to do! 

My wife and I became new parents on the day of lockdown and have been blessed to be able to spend this time with our baby girl.  The silliest thing we did was starting to run around our house to get some kind of a workout.  It started with a few laps and escalated in a 10km and later a half marathon.

Can people still get coffee from you during lockdown? 

We are allowed to ship coffee and also more recently have been able to do deliveries. 

Whats the first thing you’re going to do when you get into the shop?

Cleanup and get the espresso machine running as soon as possible.

What have you learned about yourselves and others that you didn’t know before this? 

House arrest doesn’t seem to be as much fun as I thought it would be.  On a more serious note, I’ve seen communities being able to stand together and look out for each other that can only happen when everyone involved goes through the same thing.  

What would you like to tell everyone in your community at this moment. 

We miss you and cannot wait to see everyone again.  This too will pass, we were created to be a part of this story for a time like this.  Let's write a good ending.

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