humans of coffee
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Humans of coffee: Kelsey van der Merwe

Who is Kelsey van der Merwe?

I think I have spent most of my twenties trying to figure that out. I grew up being told I could be whoever I wanted to be, but I have found that there is something so beautiful about becoming who we were created to be. So if I had to describe myself today…I am a coffee loving, aspiring writer who loves to teach and dabbles in Marketing to make a living.

What is your best childhood memory?

I think it’s difficult to pick just one. But my favourite childhood memories would have to be family dinners. I absolutely love food and my fondest memories involve food and family. We would always eat together at the table. My dad and grandfather were master storytellers and we’d spend hours after dinner listening to them. It always involved a lot of laughter and, very often, a few exaggerated stories. That was part of what made these moments so precious.

An equally fond memory are conversations with my Grandmother. She was an incredible woman with a deep and authentic faith; she would have long conversations with me about it. It was the best. I often think back to those conversations.


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

I don’t like thinking of do-overs – that’s like time spent wasted on things you cannot change. But there are some moments that I kind of wish didn’t happen. But even each of those moments taught me something and pushed me to grow. And honestly, I feel like I am who I am today because of those moments. But I think that if I had to pick a “do-over” , I probably would’ve slept in a whole lot more in varsity and not have taken myself so seriously!

What do you feel most proud of?

My mother… She is one of the most incredible women that I know. I have watched her face some of the most difficult situations – and yet still come out kinder and more loving than ever before. She is an incredibly strong woman and I admire her.

There are a few other things, but when I think of it, I feel proud of the fact, that I have been brave enough to pursue the path that God has lead me on. I have made some crazy decisions so far – decisions that sometimes make no sense – like quitting my well-paying job, with zero prospects and finding myself in a world of coffee and teaching that I love. I have also lost a lot – in fact I lost everything I had. It was not my fault but it happened, and I am better for it. But also, with the most incredible community – I found myself on the other side, having learnt that suffering will always be a part of life, but there is always purpose in the pain and that propels us forward.


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

My cellphone, bible and bed – all necessities 🙂

What do you want your tombstone to say?

“A brave woman who glorified God and made His Name known.”

What is The Green Bean Program?

Vintage Coffee has a unique program that is an integral part of what they do. I am currently formalising the program and trying to develop a type of institution around it. I am super passionate about coffee and education and see the need to educate and develop in our surrounding communities. I am no dreamer, but the dream is a Coffee University. An institution that can offer: Accredited training in various areas of coffee; skills development in communities that have not been invested into; and a future for people in an industry that is  not necessarily thought of as benefical. My dream is to see individuals come through, be uplifted and invested in and equipped with the tools to go into the future and make a sustainable living for themselves. The program aims to add value to our city by equipping these individuals with the skills needed to make a living and, concurrently add value to their communities.


What’s your favorite kind of coffee?

My favourite coffee and my daily go-to is a double ristretto cappuccino. I just love it! However, there is nothing quite as glorious as a Chemex. I love a Chemex for many different reasons – one of them is that it’s made to share. That is probably what I love most about coffee – it has this incredible ability to bring people together.

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

I have been volunteering at Vintage Coffee since 2014. You’re likely to find me at Vintage Coffee Menlo Park – either behind my computer typing away or at the bar brewing a great cup. It’s my happy place! Alternatively, if you bump into me at Rosebank, I’ll either be at EB Café or Father Coffee.

What does a perfect day look like?

A perfect day would be cold, overcast and rainy. I would be inside, by the fire, under a cozy blanket surrounded by the people I love, enjoying some good food and wine. Since I currently don’t have a fireplace, we would probably be watching Friends. 🙂

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