The Secret Diner
Where: 21a Churchill Road, Greyville
Open: Monday to Friday 7am to 3pm, Saturday 7am to 2pm
Call: 081 325 8313
For the first time I feel like a millennial, sitting in the trendy little coffee shop, bashing out these words as I’m eating. I’d always been slightly envious of the laptop brigade, spending their days in eateries and sipping great coffee (and using free wi-fi).
I’d never really cottoned on to the trend. Partly, I suppose, because old habits die hard, and partly because I never feel like lugging a laptop around, but it’s mostly because a coffee shop has always been a social place for me.
But at Humble Coffee, a new coffee shop in unfashionable lower Greyville, others too are hard at work. Some are having a quick chat or lunchtime meet. Some are popping in for takeaways from a small deli fridge. The smell of roasting coffee is intoxicating.
As the name suggests, it’s a simple place with only a Persian carpet and a few succulents and books for decor, but it has a good vibe. It’s also owner run and very friendly.
A brie, basil pesto and sun-dried tomato sarmie with a raw broccoli salad.
Previously, I had joined a friend and we had a light lunch of home-made artisan sourdough bread topped with hummus and avo with two organic boiled eggs, feta, microherbs and nuts and seeds (R73). You couldn’t get more green or virtuous than that – or more delicious. And it looked beautiful too. It was a real treat.
Then we enjoyed the excellent coffee, roasted on the premises twice a week. It was a roasting day then too. We shared a slice of butternut and orange cake (R25) topped with a cream cheese icing which we really enjoyed. I wondered why we shared it – we should each have had our own.
I needed to smell the coffee again and persuaded the boss lady I would be as productive tapping away there as I would at the office. (In reality, this somewhat geriatric millennial battled with the track pad and wi-fi passwords, so while it was more enjoyable, more productive was a stretch.)
The menu is small and decidedly veganesque. It focuses on fresh and whole foods put together with some panache.
Many of its offerings can be altered slightly to make them vegan, while vegan cheese and nut milks feature. A smoothie of banana, peanut butter, yoghurt and nut milk sounded delicious, while you can also build your own juices. There’s cinnamon and blueberry oats with banana, chia seeds and nuts, or home-made granola with yoghurt, banana and berries.
Coffee at Humble Coffee is roasted on the premises.
Lunch or snack treats include sourdough with peanut butter and banana or just good old-fashioned Marmite, or bagels with salmon, cream cheese, lemon and chives.
My eye settled on a Brie cheese, basil pesto and sundried tomato toastie (R40) which was fab and excellent value. I paired it with a ridiculously healthy raw broccoli salad (R50) which was broccoli with chickpeas, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and a vegan dressing that must have used tahini paste. Despite some mild trepidation, I had to admit it tasted good.
This time, a second coffee was washed down with a slice of dark chocolate and almond cake (R40) which was impressive for not being too sweet.
This Humble Coffee shop certainly has something to boast about.
Ambience: 3 ½
The Independent on Saturday