Humans of coffee: Michael Steward Mentoor

Who is Michael Steward Mentoor?

I am a 23 y/o, living in Cape Town, South Africa, who is just starting to get a grip on life – or I like to think I am. From a supercar enthusiast who pursued a career in engineering with the dream of being on the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team, to now being a theologian (and loving it) I feel like the last 5 years have had its fair share of confusion and misguided endeavors!

I just finished my undergrad studies as well as being a youth pastor for a couple of years. I’m using 2018 to work on personal projects but also to just breathe. The plan is to do my masters next year, but maybe I’m just saying this because my graduation was a few weeks ago and I felt really inspired by seeing other people getting their PhDs!

I always try to pursue a broader understanding, a more accurate perspective of pretty much everything. To better know the bigger picture is to better know how to deal with small picture things. I’m very much an introvert. My faith is the center of who I am – my character and choices all root from it. I believe life at its core is sacred because of it having a Heavenly designer.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

I can’t really single out one memory, and nothing seems to stand out thinking back. But there was this one vacation back in the day – I think 2006 or something – where we as a family went to Port Elizabeth that I hold very dear. It was nothing amazing, but it was perfect. It was the first time I feel I was old enough to take a step back, see, and understand the beauty of family when everyone just appreciates the other being there and not being afraid to show it.

If you could have a do-over in life, what would you do differently?

Honestly, I would change so many things if I had the chance! I would love to tell a younger me to stand up for himself! To say no, to not let my insecurities and fear of other people’s opinions dictate my life as it did. And definitely to be more selective and frank with the people I allow in my life!

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What do you feel most proud of?

So many things! But I feel all of them fall under the category of when I stepped outside of my comfort zone and braved through whatever stood in front of me.

If you could keep only 3 possessions, what would they be and why?

My camera! Photography is a recent passion and I love everything about it! My passport! Going to Italy end of September and can’t miss it! Also, if you know of any coffee spots?!My car! Spontaneous drives are the reason for my sanity.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

I’ve never given this any thought. Honestly, I don’t really care.

Maybe a segment from Romans 8:38-39? “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow…”

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What is To be Christian?

To be Christian (@to_be_christian) is where I share parts of my Christian story. It’s about what it means for me to be a Christian. It joins the substance of theology with the uniqueness of my walk with Christ. It started out as a blog 3 years ago while I was studying, but with that now finished I’m working on making it more Instagram-based, and hopefully YouTube later on in the year.

What is your favorite kind of coffee?

Give me my Chemex and CoffeeSock and I’ll be content!

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

Terbodore Coffee Roasters in Franschhoek! I first fell in love with Terbodore a few years ago at their previous location which to me felt like a safe haven! Had my first flat white there and they have the best mocha in the business! Other than Terbodore, I often visit Deluxe Coffeeworks! They have a branch close to the theology faculty in Stellenbosch where I often got my fix in between classes! Their Quad shot was a frequent meal replacement!

What does a perfect day look like?

Waking up early to get a mocha and pour over as soon as Terbodore opens! Or sleeping late and brewing a fresh cup from the Chemex when I eventually wake up, followed by a cheese omelette!

I’d then drive the Chapman’s Peak road from Simon’s Town all the way to Sea Point with my camera! Lunch at the Silo hotel, trip up Table Mountain, gelato at the waterfront!

The evening would consist of a hike up the Franschhoek Mountains brewing a fresh cup as the sun goes down. And then taking a picture of it to put on Insta! Obviously!

Humans of coffee: Ashley Els

Who is Ashley Els?

I really struggled with this question – it’s something that I’ve been wrestling with for a while now. It’s easy to define ourselves by what we do and what we have. The culture of today tells us this and leads us to neglect the essence of who we truly are at our core, down at the fibres that we have been woven together with.

I recently have discovered who I am and will forever continue to do so… I am a teacher, a lover of all things coffee, an amateur writer of sorts, lover of people but above all a son of my loving Father.

What is your best childhood memory?

Definitely travelling down to my grandparents, who lived in Outeniqua Strand (a beautiful stretch of the Garden Route), early in December. I’d go before the rest of my family and spend time with my precious Nanna. We’d bake, cook, chat, go to the beach and catch up. A week or so later the rest of the family would arrive. I remember just sitting that Christmas looking at everyone laughing, cherishing every moment. It was so wholesome and fulfilling.

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

Nothing… I shy away from the idea of “do-overs”… Being naturally flawed as a human being I continually practice to a live kinder, more loving life. There is enough pain, callousness and hurt in this world, I don’t want to be a part of that but sometimes, I am… However, I can learn and “train” not to be. The moments that most consider as “do-overs” help me to do that. They open my eyes to small moments where kindness can become who I am. The moments we’d classify as “do-overs” in our lives provide the opportunity to learn and grow. Each and every moment has shaped me into the person I am today. Without those moments that challenged me; stretched the daylights out of me; and pulled me in every direction –  forcing me to step up, mature and grow – I’d be a crappy human. Aaaaand, I still have a very long way to go. The point is, the moments that could become “do-overs”, I try see as “new-beginnings”, because it is not the end, just the beginning of a small little path of kindness and love to be paved.

What do you feel most proud of?

My family and myself…

As a family, we have had a disconcerting moment or two. One thing that stands out over the course of our lives was the death of my father. At the age of 14, I lost my father to a botched robbery. He was a staggering 37 years young.

My grandparents had lost their son; my aunts, their baby brother; and me, I lost my father at a time in my life that was crucial. Despite this, we have risen overcome the heartache (mostly, haha) and dealt with the loss. In all honesty, without any hesitation or shadow of a doubt, it is only by the kindness, love and grace that God has poured out onto our lives. Straight up, yo!

I am most proud of, and would like to honour, my grandparents and aunts for traversing the hyperborean plains of heartache, grow increasingly more loving and always being present. In the face of our loss, I’ve seen them bear the depths of their souls in anguish and from that place a compassionate and appreciative living was cultivated.

I’m kinda chuffed of myself for being who I am today (I had A LOT of help!!). By the love and grace of Jesus, friends and family over the years who have journeyed with me and have never given up and have never stopped praying, I have become who I am today. I still have a long way to go, but I have an incredible community who supports, loves and encourages me to grow – for that I am incredibly grateful. They call me out on my crap and speak life into the potential within me.

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

My Bible for sure, a knife and my cell phone. Within the Word of God I find my hope. A knife is just always handy to have and my cell phone just makes distance communication just a bit easier. Only slightly though. 😉

What do you want your tombstone to say?

“A man after God’s own heart who loved fiercely and lived kindness.”

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What is your passion project?

I’m an Educator so making a distinct difference in the lives of those I encounter daily would be an aspect of my passion project. Teaching in an all-girls school, as a young male, my passion is to change their perceptions of themselves and females in general. The media devalues women and dictates who society and culture thinks they should be. It tells them that they’re not enough without a man, that they should settle for relationships that demoralise and devalue them. Time and time again I am shocked by how girls perceive the (terrible) ways boys and men are treating them as acceptable, it has become a cultural norm. My heart is to break that… My dream is that when the girls leave school that they know their value – that they are enough and sufficient as daughters of the Father and content with who they are. My passion is to see a revival of self-worth in the perceptions of the girls I teach. Similarly, the opposite for men is true – to teach them how to step up and step out. A wise woman once told me what a wise man once said, it goes like this:

“The most difficult thing about being a man is being a man.”

Let that sink in for a while…

Also, I would love to build a community that forms a safe space where people can authentically do life together without pretence. When people are accepted for who they are and when they are taught to embrace their story they can experience permanent transformation in the deepest place. I dream of a place where truth is revealed and where roads will be crossed, connecting people so that they are sustainably built into and cultivated into the people they were created to be – to fulfil their true and full potential.

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What’s your favourite kind of coffee?

There are so many. I just really love all types of coffee! If I had to narrow it down, I would choose the following two: a ristretto cappuccino (always a double!!) I used to be a big double capp and americano (when I thought milk was for babies) fan – I then saw the light… The flavours in the ristretto capp are just that much more soul soothing.

Ultimately, a Chemex is a firm favourite – the flavours are always so prominent and because of lack of milk one can have a few cups without “over doing” it (not that there is such a thing in a barista’s life, psh). There’s always extra to go around so the Chemex is like a community coffee, which is always (mostly) a fun time!

I’ve had some pretty incredible single origin Burundi beans out of Long Miles Coffee Project and a few delicious Ethiopian Yirgacheffes.

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

Most likely Vintage Coffee. It’s such an incredible space and I volunteer there. If you’re a Friends fan you’ll know what “Central Perk” is. To me, Vintage Coffee Menlo is kinda like that. There’s always someone you know, something interesting going down or a laugh to be shared. Other than that, I make my way out to Father Coffee in Rosebank every so often and if I’m there I definitely make a stop at EB Café – I’ve been influenced and taught well ;).

What does a perfect day look like?

Waking up early, spending time with God, sharing a Chemex and a good breakfast with my community. A day at the pool or beach with a braai and a nap on a couch somewhere in between all of that. Endless conversations with laughter and banter are a must. Ending the day with good food, delicious red wine and wholesome company would be the ristretto to my cappuccino. 😉

Follow Ashley on Instagram. Photographer: Shannon Venter