A hip but lesser-known coffee spot in Joburg, Bean Republic would do well to stay under the radar lest they lose their friendly, funky vibe in a rush of popularity.
The low-key décor and unpretentious “menu-festo” follow a tongue-in-cheek “revolutionary” theme. Well maybe it’s not tongue-in-cheek – owner Edwin Ndlovu goes by the nickname “the General,” though I’m not sure why. (There is no doubt an interesting back story there.) Framed photos of Che Guevara line the walls, there are well-worn brown couches to lounge in, and menu items like the “Dictator’s Special” (sautéed mushrooms, fried eggs, beef sausage, bacon, minute steak and toast) to please the proletarian palate.
About a dozen drinks make up the coffee selection, and other “uninebriating” beverages include hot chocolate, fresh juices, smoothies, iced tea, cordials, and freezochinos. The “let them eat cake” section of the menu offers an array of muffins, pastries and brownies. And no republic is complete without revolutionary salads, of course.
The rag-tag bunch of rebels (otherwise known as the staff) were extremely chill and friendly, and the food was served fast and piping hot. My tomato and mozzarella tramezzini was gooey and delicious, but lacked the pesto I requested. No problem – they whipped up a batch on the spot! And the “bean republic anthem” breakfast came with perfectly cooked scrambled eggs, non-burned toast, and some very savoury bacon and sausage.
My only qualm was that the free wi-fi was not working the day I went – that was sort of the point of my visit, to get work done — so my plan was foiled. But it was no trouble putting work aside and shooting the breeze with Edwin. I was planning to come in just for a coffee and a pastry, but between the downpour outside and the pleasant atmosphere and food inside, I ended up staying for a couple of hours all in all.