Starbucks is landing in Cape Town: Exclusive with Ishan Natalie

Wednesday, 26 August, 2020

Why is this big news you may ask? Well after a rocky couple of years and the sale of the business at the end of last year, many were wondering if the international powerhouse would be able to stick it out in South Africa. This announcement is a step in a positive direction and while we always urge coffee drinkers to support local, the reality is that the international brands are part of the coffee eco-system and can provide some important industry standards, for example, in the arena of Barista Wages. Big brands also have the power to attract a new set of customers that may be at the beginning of their coffee journey. It is also an opportunity for the employees to learn how a company as internationally successful as Starbucks ticks. Cape Town was always going to be a tricky market for them to get in to, with the plethora of well-established cafes and roasteries in the city, but with the choice to open in Canal Walk, a retail hotspot and tourist shopping destination they're presenting an optimistic attitude. We spoke to coffee industry legend and three time National Barista Champion, Ishan Natalie,  Beverage & Operations Resource Lead at Starbucks SA, who is heavily involved in  making the CT flagship store a success.

Ishan Natalie doing what he does best, making and serving coffee with that amazing smile.

"The time has finally come! Yes we are opening in Cape Town this year and we are super excited as it has been long time coming. Whilst we cannot provide a lot of specific details of the stores and launch plan as we love to surprise and delight our customers, we believe that the Cape Town community is going to be extremely happy and will have easy accessibility to all.

Our stores always incorporate elements of inspiration of its location, surroundings, landmarks and local heritage, so there is no doubt that the design and elements of each store will put smiles on the faces of those we will serve. Cape Town is known for remarkable beauty in terms of scenery, landmarks, the winelands, arts and culture, the Bo-Kaap, heritage/ history and tourism, to name a few – and we anticipate features showcasing these in the design and visual of the stores alongside elements of ethical sourcing and coffee stories.

As a brand, and in line with our values, we pride ourselves in creating moments of inspiration, customising an experience for the consumers and creating the Third Place. We take immense pride in being an all-inclusive brand and celebrating diversity which are synonymous of Cape Town as well. Our stores will have ample seating to accommodate all customers - whether you are chilling with a friend or family, having a business meeting, working alone or just need a break away; there will be a range of seating areas/ types to suit the moment and person; hand crafted by local artisans.

We will be focusing on our heritage and core menu range, which is a great way to introduce new customers to the full range and give existing Starbucks customer familiarity as we want our customers to have a consistent experience wherever they travel the world. I am keen to see which of our core blends will suit the Cape Town consumers more – the lighter Blonde Espresso or the Signature Espresso. Cape Town is rich in coffee culture and one of the leaders in lighter profile coffees in SA, and no doubt this may be the roast style of choice by the consumers; so my money is on Blonde Espresso being the winner of the 2. The smooth, mellow cup profile will appeal to the general Cape Town consumer. However, at the Cape Town Coffee Festival, we had a great response to our darker roasts as well so it’s exciting to be able to offer customers a choice of roast profiles in the espresso beverages, and customising them further with a choice of our various milk, dairy alternatives, syrup and sauce modifiers.

There will be great career opportunities at an international brand with a new location in CT in the works.

The stores will offer our full range of coffee beans with various options in the Blonde, Medium and Dark Roast profiles which vary further as blends and single origins; with the occasional single origin seasonal feature bean every few months. I cannot confirm a Reserve store just yet but we would like to introduce the Reserve brand at some point for an elevated coffee experience and to give the consumers an opportunity to experience some of the world’s rarest, small lot coffees.

We are deep in the planning stages for the opening at the moment, with the current focus on creating employment and development of the local communities by creating skills sets and business experience to support all these local communities. We are grateful to be able to create employment opportunities for the Cape Town community, help the partners develop a long-standing career and to let them be part of something bigger than just coffee.

We look forward to creating an experience and beverage style of choice for Cape Town as well as to deliver our mission statement: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit; one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time”."

"The feature wall on Menlyn Maine store which features the lush flora of the Capital City, Pretoria with a Starbucks store in the back ground which represents us being part of that global community."

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