The Bootlegger Coffee Company is a Cape Town institution, and you’re likely to find one in your area, always ready to serve you some of the best coffee in town.
Pre-pandemic, I spent most of my time at the Bootlegger’s in Green Point. It’s a great spot to spend a day working on your laptop, make use of the free, uncapped WiFi, and enjoy good food and coffee while you’re at it.
I also spent many of my evenings with friends there, enjoying the chilled ‘coffee at night’ vibe that I remember so fondly from when I used to live in the USA, but that’s severely lacking in the Mother City.
Bootlegger’s does it best, with great specials, a comfortable ambience, and the perfect setting for a drink or a bite that’s chilled and unpretentious.
Of course, then Covid-19 hit, and I’ve been spending my days working from my office at home and eating an endless supply of home cooking, give or take the occasional trip out to re-visit some of my favourite restaurants in Cape Town (and discover some new ones through I Love Foodies).
So I was only too excited to head back to Bootlegger’s last week – and discover that they’re much the same, with the same great coffee and good food, relaxed atmosphere, and, in the case of the Green Point store I frequent, tons of fresh air and social distancing provided.
What has changed, though, is the Bootlegger Coffee App, which is now even better and with more features than before.
But first ….
Introducing The Bootlegger Coffee Company
Even though you may have visited Bootlegger’s a thousand times before, you may not actually know much about them. I certainly didn’t.
The Bootlegger Coffee Company was started in 2013 by three friends, Pieter Bloem, De Waal Basson, and Antonie Basson.
Frustrated that they couldn’t buy a good cup of coffee at 7 am, they decided to turn the Cape Town coffee world upside down and start their own business.
Enter present day, and Bootlegger’s is probably the most well-established coffee franchise in South Africa, with numerous stores in every area.
Each store guarantees to offer you the same look and feel, good coffee, and good food, with a carefully selected line from an AC/DC song, hung on the wall in neon lights.
I was not aware of this latter point before researching the company, but I will now certainly look out for it whenever I visit a branch.
The first store opened up on Sea Point Regent Road – and it remains one of my favourite stores to visit, though I do spend more time at the popular Green Point branch.
Where Does The Name “Bootleggers” Come From?
If you had guessed that the name of the Bootlegger Coffee Company harks back to the American 1920s, then you’d be right.
The name is based on a character that the trio wanted to encompass in their brand – timeless, charming, witty, and just a little bit rebellious, like the famous bootleggers of the day.
If you’re unfamiliar with the history: During the 1920s Prohibition, where alcohol was illegal, bootleggers would make, distribute, and sell alcohol in an underground network. They kept most of the 1920s social scene alive, perhaps best illustrated in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless classic, The Great Gatsby. The 2013 Baz Luhrmann film adaption of the book with Leonardo DiCaprio also gives a pretty good representation as well.
The Bootlegger Coffee
Of course, Bootlegger’s is best known for its phenomenal coffee.
The trio imported a Giesen roaster from the Netherlands in 2012, and much of the coffee you’ll taste today stems back from experimentations with this original roaster.
The store in Sea Point was first set up to include a coffee roastery, restaurant, and coffee bar, and began serving the company’s signature Bootlegger Blend in November 2013.
The Bootlegger Blend is a medium roast made of Arabica beans from Guatemala, Tanzania, and Costa Rica, and promises to offer a complex concoction of dark chocolate notes, crisp citrus acidity, and a slightly nutty undertone with a smooth and delicious finish.
You don’t have to go to a store to enjoy the bootlegger coffee. Beans are for sale (as coffee beans, filter grind, espresso grind, and pods) at Bootlegger stores, the Bootlegger online shop, and various other outlets.
All Bootlegger coffee is Rainforest Alliance (RFA) certified, meaning that coffee is grown sustainably, keeping the soil healthy, protecting waterways, reducing trash, and protecting animals.
To further focus on sustainability, Bootlegger’s take-away coffee cups are made from paper that’s 100% biodegradable and compostable, with the inside liner made from corn starch. Lids are made from recycled plastic. All cups are sourced locally.
Bootlegger is also Ocean Pledge certified, adhering to strict guidelines regarding single-use plastic.
The Bootlegger Menu
The Bootlegger Coffee Company menu focuses on farm-fresh local produce (as much as possible) to create bistro-style food, with a focus on breakfast and all-day dining.
A wide range of dietary requirements are catered for, and you’ll find select items for vegetarians, vegans, and even low-carbers (like their bun-less burgers).
Some of the I Love Foodies favourites include:
- Bacon Potato Rösti (R98): Poached egg, bacon, rosemary-roasted tomatoes, rocket, truffle oil and Grana Padano infused creamy mushrooms on a potato rösti
- Classic Benedict (R98): Bacon, poached eggs, baby spinach, and hollandaise, served on toast
- Buttermilk Flapjacks & Mascarpone (R82): Served with powdered sugar and bacon
- DIY Breakfast: Numerous options available
- Bootburger (R115): Double layer of 100g beef patties, Bootlegger sauce, processed cheddar cheese, tangy pickles, and lettuce; served with fries
Of course, their coffees are a must, and they also have a wide selection of baked goods, milkshakes, smoothies, and freshly squeezed juices.
The Bootlegger Coffee App
Bootlegger’s has had a coffee app for a while, but this has recently been relaunched to include new and improved features.
If you already have the app, there’s no need to worry – the app updates automatically. And if you don’t yet have the app, you’ll undoubtedly want to check it out. It’s available on both Android and iOS.
The updated app includes two great features:
- 1 on 10 Coffee Stamp: An electronic version of the classic coffee stamp, the app keeps track of your coffee orders. Buy 10 coffees and get your 11th coffee free.
- Loyalty Points: You’ll get a percentage cash back on every bill, which gets loaded straight onto your app. You can even use the app to pay.
Other cool features include that you can link the app to your card, so you don’t have to carry a wallet to pay at Bootleggers, and that you can send gifts to other app users.
From having used the app, I love that it’s so intuitive and easy to use. Everything happens automatically.
- Each Bootlegger bill has a QR code at the bottom.
- Select the option of whether you want to Pay with Linked Card (active vouchers will auto-redeem and loyalty points accumulate), Pay with Loyalty (which automatically uses your available loyalty points to pay the bill), or Just earn Loyalty (active vouchers will auto-redeem, you’ll get loyalty points, and the balance will have to be settled in cash).
- Scan the QR code on your bill with the app.
- Your loyalty points & coffee stamp will automatically be added to your app.
It’s that simple.
The I Love Foodies Bootlegger Coffee Company Review
We tried out the app on our last visit and enjoyed some good food & coffee in the process.
I’ve been obsessed with the Bootlegger burgers for a while and really wanted to visit them for a leisurely lunch.
Of course, Bootleggers has an amazing burger special after 16:00, where burgers only cost R75.
But I couldn’t wait until 16:00. When the craving hits, the craving hits, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Kentucky Style Chicken Burger
Oddly, though, I was fully set on having my usual, the Bootburger – but when I looked at the menu and saw they had a Kentucky Style Chicken Burger (R98; with shredded lettuce and mayo), I couldn’t resist.
This was unusual. I don’t really like fried food, and I’m not usually a fan of chicken burgers. But this southern-fried chicken burger was somehow just what I wanted. And it hit the spot perfectly. I’d go back and have this again in a heartbeat.
The burger usually comes with fries, but I ordered a side salad instead, which was really good.
No-Bun Beef Burger
As a low carber, Sabine went for the No-Bun Beef Burger (R105; beet patty with rocket, red onion, gherkins, tomato, relish, a soft poached egg, and sweet potato fries), which was also very good.
I love that Bootleggers offers no-bun burgers. They also have a no-bun chicken burger, which a good friend of mine swears by. Good low-carb food is hard to find. Sabine would know – she’s spent a whole period putting together an article on the best low carb food in Cape Town!
So, needless to say, I’d visit Bootlegger’s again – and again, and again! Consistency is key, and I always leave a happy champer.
Bootlegger Coffee Company Contact Details
Though started in Cape Town, there are now dozens of Bootlegger Coffee Company branches all over South Africa.
Both the Bootlegger’s website and the app gives you the full contact details of your closest branch. Check out the below for the country-wide details.
Bootlegger Coffee Company
Opening Times: Most branches open from 07:00. Some are open until 21:00.
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Written by Benike Palfi
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Article Date: May 2021
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