The "official" Cape Coffee Awards were born at the end of 2020, right in the thick of a strange and challenging time for most people, including us at CCB. The tradition continued in 2021, though that year also wound up being a difficult one on a global scale.
We're not going to say that 2022 was without its challenges, particularly here in South Africa, but it seems like it was a better year overall, for us, for the world, and hopefully for everyone reading this. That sentiment feels like a great starting point for a look back at 2022.
We've always enjoyed reflecting on the things that were most popular in the year gone by, but the official Cape Coffee Awards give us an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the most sought after items in several important categories. We've learned that many people enjoy finding out what was most popular with South African coffee lovers.
As was the case last year, we have some unchanged category winners as well as some emerging undisputed champions, but we also have some noteworthy changes, as well as some new categories. Read on to learn which items were most popular with South African coffee lovers in 2022!
Please note that these awards are purely quantitative. They are based on the products that sold the most throughout the year and not necessarily our top picks or favourites (although many of them are).
Manual coffee grinders of the year
In 2020, when the Cape Coffee Awards began, we witnessed a boom in the sale of manual coffee grinders. This probably had a lot to do with more people brewing at home, but another important driving force was the evolution of the hand grinder space.
In recent years, manual coffee grinders have come leaps and bounds. Not only are there more models out there (and there certainly are) but the quality and consistency of the grind that many of them produce is impressive, especially when compared to what was available a few years ago. They've also become much easier and pleasurable to use, on average.
This means that manual coffee grinders now offer specialty coffee lovers great value for money. They are the starting point we recommend for many people considering brewing at home for the first time. Here are South Africa's favourites.
Overall hand grinder of the year
To anyone who owns one, this should come as no surprise. The best-selling hand grinder in 2022 was the same as in 2021, by a pretty huge margin. That was the Timemore Chestnut C2! Last year, we put the C2 in its own category, separately highlighting the best-selling entry-level and premium grinders. While the latter category remains (below), the Timemore Chestnut has eclipsed all other entry-level offerings in terms of sheer popularity.
Interestingly, while almost all other grinders went up in price in 2022, the Timemore Chestnut C2 did not, making it even better value for money than before, certainly when compared to other grinders out there. It's hard to beat the C2 as an entry-point into quality grinds.
Premium hand grinder of the year
The change in this category has been a small one. Last year, the most popular premium hand grinder was the Comandante C40 MK3 and this year, it has been supplanted by the newer Comandante C40 MK4. These are not drastically different grinders, so there are no big surprises here. Comandante is the brand that basically pioneered the premium hand grinder space, and many still consider the C40 range to the benchmark against which all other premium grinders are measured.
Having said that, one of the brands that has shaken things up in the premium grinder space is 1Zpresso, based in Taiwan. Some have even ventured to say that 1Zpresso's grinders rival or even improve upon the quality of the Comandante range. It's worth noting that as a brand, 1Zpresso actually out-sold Comandante in 2022 at Cape Coffee Beans. The fact that any single 1Zpresso model didn't defeat the MK4 could be attributed to the much larger variety of models to choose from.
Electric coffee grinders of the year
It is true that hand grinders are booming and regaining in popularity, but there are still lots of people out there who value the convenience of electric. This is a space where we've seen a changing of the guards in 2022.
Electric filter grinder of the year
It seems that this category in the Cape Coffee Awards is destined to be a contentious one. Two grinders have duked it out, neck and neck, for this category over the last 3 years. They are the Baratza Encore and the Severin Coffee Grinder. In 2020, the Severin just claimed first place; in 2021, the more full-featured Encore took top spot; but in 2022, the Severin is back in the lead, but only just.
These two grinders actually have a pretty similar conical steel burr set, so the relatively significant difference in price between the two is driven by the feature set. The Encore has 40 grind settings and a bigger motor. The Severin on the other hand has only 10 grind settings, but is much more affordable. It seems there are people swayed by both value propositions, and they both make great choices for manual or filter brewing at home.
Espresso grinder of the year
There was an interesting shakeup in the previously consistent espresso grinder category, this year. For the last two years, the most popular espresso grinder was the Eureka Mignon Specialita Espresso Grinder. The Specialita had actually overtaken the always popular Rancilio Rocky which would have been the winner in all years prior if the Cape Coffee Awards had been running.
Very interestingly, the Rancilio Rocky actually overtook the Eureka Mignon Specialita in 2022 by quite a margin, but alas, it still was not destined to claim the top spot, because a new champion has emerged. Eureka's newer, stripped down and more affordable Mignon grinder, the Manuale, sold in quantities almost equivalent to the two other grinders combined. Given that the Manuale offers some (but not all) of the features of the Specialita, at the price of the Rocky, it seems to have hit the sweet spot in terms of bang for your buck for many espresso lovers.
Espresso machines of the year
While last year was a year of change in the espresso machine space, 2022 was very much in line with 2021, at least in terms of home espresso machines. The most popular choices remain unchanged on the domestic front, but we did see a big change in the commercial space.
Entry-level espresso machine of the year
While the Rancilio Silvia Home Espresso Machine continues to become more popular every year but, since the arrival of the new Gaggia Classic, there has been a clear winner in terms of sheer quantity purchased at Cape Coffee Beans. To be fair, there is a big price gap between the little Gaggia Classic and the heftier Rancilio Silvia.
The Gaggia offering seems to appeal specifically to first-time home baristas, and there's no arguing that the Classic makes an excellent and affordable choice on that front. Now available in various colours and with several modification options, there are even more reasons to choose a Gaggia Classic as your starter espresso machine.
Prosumer espresso machine of the year
While the Rancilio Silvia may have a less expensive rival to contend with in the entry-level space, the Rancilio Silvia Pro has no such issues in the premium home espresso machine arena. In terms of feature set at the price point, nothing really comes close.
The Silvia Pro, and now the newer Pro X, includes dual boilers, PID and lots of programmable options at a much more affordable price than other machines with similar specifications. That explains why it was the clear winner in the prosumer category for domestic espresso machines in 2022, as it was in 2021.
Commercial espresso machine of the year
This category didn't even exist in 2020, and we were thrilled to see the commercial espresso market open up again last year. In 2021, the Wega Lunna was the most popular choice with proprietors of cafes, restaurants and other coffee operations.
We're happy to report that 2022 was a good year overall for investment in the coffee industry, but there definitely was a change in preferences. You could say that Rancilio came close to a clean sweep in the espresso machine space. The most popular commercial espresso machine was the Rancilio Classe 5 S. Available in several sizes, this commercial offering from Rancilio is robust and affordable. Perhaps its most prized feature is the option for factory-fitted gas-operated heating, making it a viable option for serving coffee during load-shedding.
Coffee maker of the year
All right; enough with all the espresso talk. After all, that's not how most people make their coffee at home. All over the world, and here in South Africa, most people still use manual brew methods to make their morning cup of coffee and, when it comes to manual brew methods, the most popular option has basically been the same, all across the globe, for almost a century.
And the winner is...
Once again, the Bialetti Moka Express takes the title of the most popular coffee maker of the year. It really is the most popular coffee maker, period.
Given its lifespan, its ease of use, its iconic design and its sheer longevity, it's still the most popular way to make a cup of quality coffee in your kitchen. We have customers that come in to buy spares for Bialetti Moka Express pots that are older than some of our team members and are still going strong.
It may be old-fashioned (many of the best things are) but there's no denying that the Bialetti Moka Express is an icon in the coffee space, and it likely will remain so for many years to come.
Electric filter coffee makers of the year
This was a new category for us last year, but we think it's an important one. You may remember your parents making coffee on a filter coffee machine. Don't get us wrong; we know that there are lots of terrible drip coffee makers out there, but there is a new trend towards "batch brew" emerging across the specialty coffee world. The new generation of filter coffee, drip coffee, or batch brew coffee machines (they go by many names) are much more precisely engineered and consistent, and they offer a great way to make a larger volume of coffee at home, at the office, or even in the cafe.
Domestic filter coffee machine of the year
On the home front, the most popular brand has not changed but the specific coffee machine actually has. Last year, the most pouplar choice was the iconic Technivorm MoccaMaster KBG Select but this year the winner was the Technivorm MoccaMaster KBGT 741.
Although not available in as many fancy colours, the KBGT swaps the glass jug and the hot plate for an insulated thermos, maintaining both the temperature and the quality of your brew for many hours. Visitors to CCBHQ will have spotted that we have one of these babies on the brew bar for making smaller batches, and we really love it. It seems that so do many other South African coffee lovers!
Commercial batch brewer of the year
In the commercial space, business owners seem to have made the opposite tradeoff and swapped the thermal insulation of last year's winner, The Coffee Queen Thermos Filter Coffee Machine, for the convenience and aesthetic of the more traditional Coffee Queen M2. Having said that, we know that there was an availability issue with regards to thermally insulated Coffee Queen machines for part of the year, so we feel compelled to mention the close runner up: The Coffee Queen Mega Gold which is CQ's higher end offering for commercial operations, which we also use at CCBHQ for bigger batches.
Coffee Queen filter coffee machines are surprisingly affordable; they may represent the best value option for businesses that want to offer quality coffee on a small budget. You can buy just one brewer and as many flasks or decanters as you need, and you could serve an army. You don't even need a trained barista. It may not be as trendy as espresso, but we really believe in batch brew as a commercial offering, particularly on smaller scales and smaller budgets.
Accessories of the year
Finally, we come to this year's new category: accessories. We've shied away from this part of our product range in years past, simply because there are literally hundreds of different products to look at, many of which serve entirely different purposes. We can't evaluate or compare them all, but we have decided to include awards for two of the most important types of accessories, this year.
Scale of the year
Any true specialty coffee lover will tell you: you can't make great coffee without a scale. Many people will snigger the first time they see a scale under a pour-over brewer, but the reality is that you can't make consistently delicious coffee without controlling at least your brew ratio, and also ideally your extraction time. That's where coffee scales come in.
We actually have lots of different scales of all sorts of shapes and sizes available. We love them all, but there was one that clearly was the most popular with our customers in 2022, and that was the Timemore Black Mirror Basic+. It ticks all the boxes for manual brews and does the job of variable control perfectly, for coffee lovers across the country and beyond.
Kettle of the year
Kettles! If you think about it, they're actually pretty darn important. There's no coffee without hot water, and as specialty coffee lovers quickly learn, controlling your pour as well as your temperature can make all the difference. Most coffee kettles these days have recognisable goose necks, but beyond that they differ in material and type quite a bit.
We were thrilled and intrigued to discover that the most popular kettle among our range is still the classic Hario V60 Buono Drip Kettle. Perhaps load-shedding played a role here, but it seems our customers favoured the classic stovetop over many of the fancier variable temperature electric offerings out there. There's no question that the Hario V60 Buono has done the job of pouring beautifully for many many years, and has stood the test of time.
Coffee of the year
The final awards go to the coffee brands that the people of South Africa ordered the most in 2022. We would love to do this on an individual coffee basis, but as most of our coffees are single origins, available in limited quantities for a limited time, it's not really possible to declare a winner. We actually think they're all winners anyway. However, we can tell you which brand of coffee our customers ordered most!
Coffee brand of the year
The most popular brand by sheer volume has now been the same for three years running: Tribe Coffee Roasting. It seems that "roasting the coffee that the people want to drink" continues to be a great strategy.
Tribe has had a big year, moving and upgrading their roastery and expanding. We ourselves have seen lots of growth in the orders of Tribe, not only for home consumers but for commercial coffee operations across the country.
Coffee blend of the year
While we can't fairly compare the popularity of our single origin offerings, we can at least offer a comparison of the performance of the perrenial and seasonal blends.
When it comes to the most popular blend that we offer, there was has also been a clear winner, for several years, and that is häzz, South Africa's coffee for heroes! These bright blue bags fly off the shelves at CCB and make their way to homes and offices across the country in impressive numbers. You can try the blend by buying a bag online or at HQ or visiting their cafes in Newlands and Stellenbosch.
A note about all our coffee partners
We are definitely repeating ourselves here, but we think it's a message worth repeating... While we may have sold more Tribe coffee than any other brand, and more hazz coffee than any other blend, we feel very strongly that all the coffee brands we work with are winners. After all, there are hundreds of coffee businesses in South Africa and we've very carefully chosen our partners. Each one of them has something unique to offer and they cater to many different budgets, palettes and personalities, but they are all providing coffee of the highest quality. We're proud to work with them all! Please support them. They deserve it!
We want to thank everyone who has read this post and supported our business in 2022 and prior years. It's quite something to be able to work in this amazing space and call it our job.
We're excited about 2023 and have a few interesting plans in the works. We'd love to hear from you too though. What would you like to see from CCB in 2023? What awards would you like to see on next year's post? What feedback do you have for us from 2022? Leave your comments below!