It’s difficult to say whether Coco Safar is an espresso bar, coffee emporium, patisserie, café, microbrewery, or restaurant because, well, it’s all of them! Tucked away in the Artem Centre on cosmopolitan Seapoint’s main drag, this rabbit warren of high-end spaces offers guests a kalaeidescopic food and beverage experience, from coffee tasting at the Capsule Emporium and fine dining in the restaurant to blow-your-socks-off couture patisserie in their Luxury Café.
Most of what Coco Safar offers guests pivots around extraordinarily fine coffee and tea from exotic locations all over the world, such as South America, Indonesia, and Africa. Here, you don’t “take milk in your coffee” – you pair your coffee with milk – and asking for sugar is likely to get you face-melting looks from the barista. This place is serious about coffee!
Previously, to accompany the quality brews made in its espresso bar and microbrewery, Coco Safar, which means luxury journey (think “safari”), offered guests a smorgasbord of fine pastries, hot breakfasts, and lunches in their restaurant and café. Now, they’ve added a whirlwind prix fixe dinner experience to their extensive offering, available from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 18:00 onwards.
How it works
Coco Safar’s prix fixe dinner consists of a four (R395) or five-course (R495) experience, which takes guests on a tour of the establishment’s various spaces and operations. The first course is taken at the microbrewery opposite the restaurant, where Coco Safar brews and bottles its fermented tea and coffee beverages. Served on a flight, much like a craft beer tasting, guests embark upon their “luxury journey” with an interesting fermented tea and coffee tasting hosted by a mixologist.
From here, you’re escorted back to the restaurant where you can take a seat for the second half of your first course – two vegetarian steamed bao buns, followed by courses number two, three, and four (starters, mains, and desserts) or courses two and three (starters and mains) if you’ve only opted for the four-course prix fixe option.
My favourites were the grilled cauliflower steak in a velvety leek velouté, oat and olive crumble, and cap a of crispy pecorino cheese (starters); slow-cooked smoked brisket, caper pomme puree, braised cabbage, pea puree, lightly pickled cucumber, and baby carrots (mains); and absolutely exceptional “Botanical” dessert of olive oil ganache and mint panna cotta on a sponge, pickled apple and cucumber, apple and lemon thyme ice cream, fennel and micro coriander salad, and frozen yogurt powder.
The final course
The experience concludes at the Coffee Emporium, where a trained and highly knowledgeable barista serves up the final course. Guests are given a choice of one of Coco Safar’s coffee or tea blends, an espresso shot of which is then poured over a thin slice of cake for a final sweet treat.
Now, it was only at this late stage that I came to understand the whole Coco Safar concept – an introduction that would have been very welcome at the beginning of the evening. Until this point, I had felt as though I had been tossed about from one thing to the next without any clear concept, narrative, or direction… like a wayward boat on a choppy ocean. But the cheery barista explained that the multi-course dinner experience is intended to take guests on a luxury food and beverage journey, starting at the microbrewery, moving through the restaurant, and concluding with what Coco Safar is best known and loved for: fine coffee.
We were never actually given a cup of coffee, which confused the pants off me, but the food, service, and wine was absolutely excellent and the experience, overall, very interesting.
There’s a lot to be said for establishing a narrative for guests to follow, especially if your offering is a complex one. On their own, each facet of the Coco Safar experience is truly wondrous; I only wish these had been stitched together with a more coherent narrative, but perhaps this is something that will come with time. The offering is a new one, after all.
With that said, the food was absolutely delicious, the wine selection impressive, the service enthusiastic and attentive, and the setting, exceedingly romantic in an old African hunting lodge meets moody Parisian café kind of way. In other words, it’s a place, I imagine, that Ernest Hemingway would have loved.
Phone: 021 433 1336
Address: Artem Centre, 277 Main Road, Sea Point, Cape Town