blog humans of coffee

Humans of coffee: Bruce Collins

Who is Bruce Collins?

I see myself as an instigator. In “The Art of Instigating”, Tom Morkes says that “the Instigator seeks to alter the status quo, to change direction, and to create without permission. The Instigator believes in potentialities. The Instigator is bold, confrontational, and sometimes foolhardy. The Instigator does things that are inadvisable.”

Furthermore, I am a passionate innovator and an educator by profession. I love design, art, film and books. I’m an erstwhile skateboarder who dabbles in longboarding now and again. I’m a compulsive beard grower and wannabe barista. And, I love great coffee.

Mostly, though, I’d define myself as a father, partner and child. My three beautiful daughters are a gift and I love that I get to do life with them. Their presence in my life is an overwhelming blessing. Being a husband to Yolanda is my favourite thing. She is my corresponding puzzle piece. We fit. Lastly, my faith is a guiding factor in my life. I am grateful to God for loving me.

What is your best childhood memory?

In Grade 8, my still best friend, Paul Henning and I, were arrested for malicious damage to government property. We were throwing stones off a highway bridge (odiously stupid, I know) and a member of the President’s Guard saw us and decided to use us as scapegoats for the damage he had caused to his government vehicle that same day.

Suffice it to say, we were in the wrong. But, so was he. We weren’t charged in the end but learnt one hell of a lesson. Paul and I reminisce about this incident often and it always brings a smile to my face. My girls are horrified that Paul and I decide to throw those stones in the first place. I suppose, looking back, I am too.

I think it was one of the experiences that cemented the strong friendship I share with Paul.

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

I would ignore my Dad’s dissuasion of me following in his footsteps. He was an incredibly talented graphic designer and artist. I desperately wanted to do the same. In many ways, I still do. For some reason, he dissuaded me from doing so.

I am, however, passionate about teaching and love what I do now. I’m not sure whether I’d really trade this for something else. Sometimes I think my dad knew me better back then. Maybe he had a sense that this would be a better fit.

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What do you feel most proud of?

I suppose I’m most proud of my daughters. Mikaela (12) is a confident, talented and self-assured young woman who has the potential to impact the world in many ways. Gemma (11) lives large. Her smile is infectious and she lights up any room. Her confident vibrancy inspires me to live in the moment every day. Emily (almost 6) is a treasure. She has a sense of humour and her stubbornness mirrors my own. She brings so much joy to our lives. She keeps me young. I am excited to see how her life will change this world.

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

My pourover kit: I can’t do without my daily coffee making and drinking ritual. It gets me going and helps me reflect on the day. This time is always the calm before the storm.

My MacBook Air: It’s the best piece of tech I’ve ever bought and with it, I can access everything I have stored on the cloud; and, I have so much stored in the cloud.

My Bible: “People do not live by bread alone…”

What do you want your tombstone to say?

His life touched others.

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What is @zacoffeearmy?

In 2012, I hit the Melbourne coffee scene hard. I was blown away by how the coffee industry had taken root there and how the culture of coffee impacted people’s lives. I had an inkling that South Africa was on the cusp of such an explosion. Cape Town had always been ahead of the curve but the rest of the country seemed to be catching on to the culture of quality coffee.

While there, I picked up a magazine produced by the Melbourne Coffee Army – a movement that crowdsourced recommendations for great coffee in the city. The idea birthed then to create a social media presence in South Africa that would help the industry to flourish (albeit in a small way) and to educate South Africans about coffee. In many ways, it’s been about my coffee journey and how I’ve grown to understand more about the industry and its impact. I’ve tried to not be a critic but to punt great coffee places and the people who have been instrumental in growing the industry here.

Recently, I’ve asked 3 coffee lovers to join the army as contributors. Shae Leigh in Cape Town (IG: @hopsonhopsoff), John Benn in KZN (IG: @thatguyinza) and Shannon Black in Gauteng (IG: @pretoriacoffeegirl).

Mostly, I’m just incredibly excited about how far South Africans have come in their understanding of coffee and I’m happy to be a small part of that journey.

What’s your favorite kind of coffee?

I love a Hario V60 or Chemex pourover. These are standards for me at home. If I want espresso based drinks, I’ll head to one of my favourites and order a double ristretto cortado.

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

My favourite coffee shop in South Africa is Rosetta in Cape Town but I don’t live there so you won’t find me there often.

Up here in Pretoria, you’ll most likely find me in Vintage Coffee’s Menlo Park shop. I volunteer there, too, at times. Otherwise, you’ll find me at Chocolat et Cafe in Hazelwood (because the breakfasts are also amazing) and at Lucky Bread Company in Brooklyn Mall.

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