Interview: Amy Gardiner of Humble Coffee

Wednesday, 13 January, 2021

We caught up with Amy Gardiner, owner of Humble Coffee based in Durban. Amy was integral in helping us pull off the beautiful cover feature for our current Summer issue. You can find Humble at 21a Churchill Road, Durban or give them a follow on Instagram to keep up to date with their news. All the beautiful pics below are courtesy of their profile.

Your current HQ in Churchill Place, has been a roaring success, and has become a coffee destination worth travelling for, has this journey been anything like what you imagined?

Not at all! When I found the space on Churchill Road I was purely thinking coffee roasters, training and espresso bar with some informal snacks and bagels. I really could not prepare myself for what it has turned into! I had been roasting on my own for 2 years purely for wholesale with some small retail business. I had come to realise that although I love roasting coffee, it can be a very lonely profession especially when you don’t have a staff team. To then suddenly have this space full of people, coffee, music, food it re-energised me. I came to the realisation that I need spaces like this to motivate me in my own business and I’m so happy to watch it grow and evolve.

What are your future plans for the space?

At this point, it’s a little daunting to think about the future as we’re living in such crazy times! I do have plans to extend the space by around 25 squares, focusing more on coworking. A lot of people enjoy working from Humble and I think it’s important we create spaces with this in mind, as working remotely becomes the new normal. In 2020 we hosted a couple of evening pop up events and I would love to do more of this. We’re so lucky to have lots of space and there are so many amazing creative minds in Durban that can put it to good use.  

Tell us about your all women squad please!

They’re amazing, my rock and I’m so thankful they put up with my crazy Scottish ways! We have a laugh which is so important, hospitality can be exhausting. Customers also feed off positive energy which really affects the space as a whole. 

I love how diverse our team is at the moment, from law graduates, artists to small business owners we have it all. All individual team members, Nomfundo, Casca, Rachel, Nolwazi & Sam, have their own focus separate to Humble, which is really important. 

What would your advice be to anyone with dreams of opening a coffee space?

I think, like all coffee shop owners I get asked a lot about this hot topic! I was lucky to work in the industry for a long time prior to opening my own space which I think was very helpful. You need to experience the ups and downs of this industry to see if it’s for you. It is totally possible to open a coffee shop with little experience, but it’s a lot easier If you’ve worked in a similar space before. 

If you do decide to take the plunge and open a coffee space, focus on community and a good quality, sustainable offering. You’re nothing without a strong community behind you and people truly appreciate a well thought out range of products encompassing traceability. 

What is your favourite drink and food item on the menu right now?

Drink: The Elderflower Coffee Fizz is an absolute gem, especially when trying to do life through 110% humidity. Elderflower syrup, batch brew (we usually have naturals on batch which bring out a lovely sweetness), sparkling water and a lemon wedge over ice. 

Food: The Hummus toast is a winner. 

Sourdough, avo, hummus topped with locally made feta, nut sprinkle and locally grown microgreens. What’s not to love?!

What is your favourite coffee at the roastery right now?

It’s got to be our 2020 Festive coffee, Finca La Hermosa by Max Pérez. This Guatemalan coffee was actually one of the coffees we included in the Issue 34 feature and when I cupped It I knew I had to get more! It has such beautiful floral aromas with low acidity. We get notes of caramelised nectarine & fudge with a vanilla sweetness. There’s still a few bags left at the shop. 

You sample roasted the coffees for the cover feature of Issue 34, can you tell us about the experience and about your highlights of the process?

I had just got my hands on a new sample roaster so was excited to put it through its paces! I did some planning of what I wanted to achieve in terms of flavour. As this was going to be a very visual article I knew I wanted to accentuate the coffees brightness while highlighting their individual flavour profiles.  It’s always a little nerve-racking as you only get a couple of chances to achieve this as samples are usually 200g and under. I was happy with the outcome and we had a lot of fun cupping and visualising the flavours with the various props and colours. 

Apart from your own space that you’ve lovingly created, what is your favourite cafe (anywhere in the world)?

Ahh too many choices! 

I’m going to have to go with Steampunk Coffee in North Berwick, Scotland. 

It’s a 30-minute train ride from Edinburgh (My hometown). I am in love with this quaint little seaside town and nothing completes an icy walk on the beach without a trip to Steampunk for a tasty cortado and a bowl of soup to warm up. The coffee roaster is displayed among the hustle and bustle and the café is packed with comfy couches and cosy corners. There is always a cute dog to look at. They source traceable top-quality coffee and always have such an amazing selection of beans on. 

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