ONE of East London’s smartest beachfront entrepreneurs just got smarter. Grind Café’s Jason Stone, 38, has become a must-stop sensation for the city’s growing coffee aficionados.
Yesterday, his uniquely branded panelvan cafe delivered a cup of fine coffee – and a Daily Dispatch.
Stone is a Buffalo City grown and bred skateboarding “bru” turned coffee brewer. His local patois, cool style and intimate knowledge of the Esplanade’s passing parade made selecting him to distribute the Daily Dispatch a natural choice, said Daily Dispatch regional circulation manager Ryan Megaw.
Setting the scene, Megaw said: “Once a whole bunch of people have done what they have to do in the morning, such as drop off their kids, they have 15 minutes to park at the beachfront and just chill while looking at the ocean.
“They even have their ‘own’ parking spot, and often chat to their friends in the next car. It’s an East London perk!”
They are also committed customers of the Grind Café, which now has a Daily Dispatch poster board propped up against the front wheel.
Stone, wearing a Dispatch T-shirt and sunvisor, handed Daily Dispatch deputy editor and keen regular Bongani Siqoko, a cup of his favourite hit.
Megaw said the idea to use Grind Cafe as a distribution point came from a family conversation. His brother Greg had spoken highly of “the guy selling coffee from the back of his van on the beachfront”. “I thought, shu, we can sell papers there!” True Group operations manager Peter Mansfield said he travelled the country and drank “a lot of coffee and Jason’s is the best in the country!”
Mansfield gets to work at 6am, and by 7am is among a group of morning friends who chat and chirp while Stone works his two Swiss-made fully-automated Jura coffee machines.
Church events co-ordinator Carmen Prinsloo said: “Jason just sees me coming [in her car] and starts making my Americano.”
Stone, a former local skateboarding champion and Port Rex old boy, says a secret to his success is to be regular – he is there 6am to 9am, Monday to Friday.
He uses only local products – Hamburg roaster Garvie McConnell’s five-bean Handmade Coffees blend, Berea-based Refresh water which is “smooth”, Phyl’s low GI and standard rusks, Koda’s honey, recyclable cups from Direct Packaging, and even architect Richard Stratford’s traditional African fold-up Urban Fisherman designer chairs.
Stone said: “Locals supply the demand; you deal directly with people, and it boils down to relationships. They are also my customers.”
At 9am when he packs up his nifty and quiet Yamaha 50Hz output generator and closes the van’s back doors, it’s off to his next destination –- he delivers coffee to anyone who orders 10 or more cups, and sets up shop at weddings, funerals, sports games and other events.
“Have a board meeting at Nahoon Reef and I will be there to provide awesome coffee,” he said.
Or he morphs into a Microsoft-certified Apple iPad and Mac technician, his other line of business.
However, his beachfront gig brings him joy and friendship – and some odd sights.
He once served a Dutch couple who emerged from the Kennaway Hotel on a freezing, wild winter’s morning and swam in a rocky seaside pool – stark naked.
And, when the work is done, Jason takes a moment to add to a core element of any barista’s gig, which is conversation, by reading his local 140-year-old newspaper, the Daily Dispatch.
- Call Jason on 082-921-4565 or visit Facebook.com/GrindCafeCoffee/