Cafe Focus: Issy's Coffee & Gifts

Friday, 15 March, 2024

Words by Ayanda Dlamini

Issy’s Coffee and Gifts is a small coffee shop in Forest Town at the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre. I was lured in by its unique and immersive experience, reminiscent of wandering through a museum.The cafe’s ambiance and design evokes the feeling of being enveloped in a carefully curated exhibition. Somehow it manages to encapsulate the feeling of being both in a cozy library and on a sunlight dappled patio at sunrise simultaneously.

As I explored the cafe’s interior, I found myself surrounded by an array of gifting gems. All of the pieces and details tell a story and invite exploration. From the shelves filled with books, to displays showcasing one-of-a-kind pieces of jewellery and my favourite part, a selection of quirky cards that have the best sense of humour and illustrations. The kind you can’t find in just any gift store. 

The location of this cafe adds a sense of reverence and contemplation. It possesses subtle yet meaningful elements, from historical photographs to thought-provoking artwork, creating an atmosphere that encourages reflection. And of course the space smells like coffee and nutty baked goods, a winning combination. 

I ordered a black Americano and a cappuccino to start my day off the right way - highly caffeinated. In the hopper was their House Blend curated by Asmara Coffee Roasters. A beautiful, bold coffee, made with so much love and understanding of the craft. It’s full bodied flavours were honoured with milk and without - a delicious coffee. While I soaked in my moment of stillness, I was also enchanted by the glow of the sunrise, it came through the skylight so beautifully.  Created this beautiful golden spotlight for my morning coffee, making me enjoy and admire it even more. 

Issy’s Coffee and Gifts has instantly become a new spot for me. I thoroughly enjoyed its ability to seamlessly blend elements of history, relaxation and good coffee. The space’s museum-like experience exceeds the traditional boundaries of a coffee shop. Whether you choose to sit amidst the shelves of books, look at humours cards or even, just for a table overlooking the beautiful outdoor patio, this little coffee shop is the perfect fit. 

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