blog humans of coffee

Humans of coffee: Jono Le Feuvre

 

Who is Jono Le Feuvre?

Damn it. I was going to do my best not to be ethereal and pretentious. But failure in that regard looms large before me (see the pretension has started already). The concept of Jono Le Feuvre evolves as does his context. Right now I am an African, white, privileged, previously- and currently-advantaged, heterosexual married, practising-Christian father of three children. I graduated with a degree in journalism and now I import and roast coffee for a living.

I am passionate about living an active lifestyle and staying in shape, but the reality is that I achieve neither of those ideals. I am exhilarated by rigorous debate on topics that affect how humans interact with one another (social justice, religion, and correct Aeropress etiquette) but I am also exhilarated by life’s most frivolous and superficial of endeavors (coffee, wine, cuisine). I naturally gravitate towards the superficial (hence my career) but find this to be an undesirable trait, so I compensate by obsessing over (but seldom accomplishing) goals that will actually make this country a better place to live for those who still struggle to access life’s most basic needs. Also, I often give way longer-than-necessary answers to simple questions. Apologies.

What is your best childhood memory?

No one memory stands out but a few highlights are:

Staring up at the stars from a makeshift bed in the back of our family’s burgundy Toyota Cressida as my father drove us through the night to our farm in the Karoo (which now makes up part of the Karoo National Park). Or listening to my dad’s vinyls all afternoon after school. This is way less cool than it sounds. He wasn’t into Zeppelin, Priest, BÖC, or the Stones. Nay, his collection was all Gershwin, Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Beethoven. But it was fascinating to me nevertheless. Of course when my brother starting bringing home his GnR vinyls I was converted.

If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?

Most of my regrets come from my high school years. How I wasted so much time. Man, I did NOT “fill every minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run”.

SO much time spent staying up ludicrously late and then dragging myself through the day semi-comatose. Such a terrible use of mindspace. Filling my brain with pirated pornography (now there is a generation destroyer) instead the wealth of amazing information constantly at our fingertips. My boarding school possessed a library bigger than most municipal libraries (complete with leather bound books and the smell of rich mahogany). Or sleeping the afternoon’s away instead of making the most of the genuinely world-class sporting facilities all around us. Or… the list is long. But most of those regrets fall between the ages of 13 and 18. I have often conducted impossible thought experiments about how I would utilize my time better were I able to Billy Madison my way back into high school.

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What do you feel most proud of?

Pride…I am not sure I feel incredibly proud about anything. Perhaps I am too aware of my foibles to think that any possession, person, or accomplishment in my orbit was due to anything other than grace, coincidence, or poor judgement on the part of the person who has stuck around long enough to form a relationship.

There are things I highly cherish though. And perhaps that is simply what your question is really asking. I cherish my wife Bianca – a incredibly intelligent, beautiful and industrious woman. She is the Helen Hunt to my Jack Nicholson. She makes me want to be a better person. I cherish my three children Zara (5), Lincoln (4), and Phoenix (2). And I really cherish my involvement at Rosetta Roastery. I work with some very talented and dedicated people, so to be on a team that gets to produce coffees of such a consistently high quality is a huge privilege. Maybe that is pride after all.

If you could only keep three possessions, what would they be and why?

My Taylor 314CE acoustic guitar, my Fender P-bass, and my iphone. The only reason the iphone stays is because it gives me access to information. One of life’s most precious commodities.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Here lies Jono Le Feuvre. A man who lived in pursuit of the glory of Christ.

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What is Rosetta Roastery?

Rosetta Roastery is a small team of coffee professionals who firmly believe that great coffee belongs in your kitchen and lounge before it belongs in a cafe or restaurant. Ironically, we need to run a superb cafe (and supply other superb cafes) in order to get people to trust us that they can brew mind-blowing coffee in the comfort of their own home or office. Starbucks re-popularised “the third place” away from work or home where you could escape the tiresome responsibilities of life. We say, “hell no! Responsibilities are responsibilities! Don’t shirk them. Don’t escape them. Just make them more bearable with great coffee.” Which is why, long before we had cafes and pop-up brew bars, we were delivering coffee around cape town, free of charge, to offices and homes of people in need of relief.

Then, I think one of the elements that sets Rosetta Roastery apart is that we are inspired by just how many different and distinct expressions of coffee exist around the world. We are excited by variety, rather than predictability. Which is why we don’t define ourselves with a house blend. We don’t even have a houseblend. We only sell single origin coffees. The more varied and genre-challenging our seasonal range of coffees is, the better we feel about ourselves and our role in the coffee industry.

What’s your favorite kind of coffee, brew method or coffee origin?

It depends on what I am looking into at that particular phase of the year. When new crops are arriving, or we have a lot of samples on the floor, I drink pour-overs almost exclusively. It is quite simply the most honest expression of the relationship between the farmer and the roaster. The fruits of their combined labours lie in the roasted bean, and a pour-over is like putting that bean into the Big Brother house. There is no place for bad behaviour to go unnoticed. (I am aware that I may have mixed a whole number of metaphors.)

But the rest of the time I drink espresso in large unheated porcelain cups. I feel like many roasters pushing the boundaries on the lighter side of coffee neglect aspects of length and mouthfeel. In espresso, this is crucial. And try as we might to change this fact, espresso-based beverages are still king in South Africa. Filter coffee feels like it has been unjustly relegated to a box of dirty words from the 80s like “mullet”, “apartheid”, and “Pet Shop Boys”. Consequently, in South Africa specifically, a coffee roastery that neglects the art of espresso when considering roast philosophies is on thin ice.

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In which coffee shops are we likely to bump into you?

I work six days a week. The only cafe you’ll ever find me in is Rosetta Roastery. But whose coffee do I admire on the local scene? Espresso Lab, Origin Artisan Roasters‘ single-origin stuff (usually very well sourced) and some of the stuff from Quaffee. But I am sure there would be more names out there, were I to actually get out to taste some of the new guys around.

Internationally, I recently had some amazing stuff from Ritual Roasters in San Francisco, Coffee Collective in Copenhagen, Square Mile in London, and La Cabra in Aarhuis.

What does a perfect day look like?

Ah, just thinking about this makes me happy.

Waking up at 07:00, spending half an hour on the couch with my three monkeys (metaphorical, not literal monkeys) drinking coffee (aeropress or clever dripper) and watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Breakfast of homemade waffles. An hour or two in the gym, followed by a wine tasting at any number of the Cape’s world class wineries. Some time to read after lunch, or write some wine reviews, sneak in a quick swim, throw some ball in the back yard, and then begin prepping dinner with my wife. Perhaps make some homemade pasta, or let Bianca bake some bread, while I agonize over which red to decant for the evening meal. All with The Dead Weather or Raconteurs playing in the background (I may or may not have developed an obsession with with pretty much any musical project involving Jack White).

I am energised by people, so dinner would be incomplete without friends coming over, and we would no doubt wile the evening away drinking great wine, debating how to make the world a better place without leaving our cushy middle class dining room chairs, and then fall asleep buoyed by the hope that benevolent scullery gnomes will creep into our kitchen and do the dishes while we sleep.

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