Rosetta was started by three graduates from UCT – one with a B.Bus Sc, one with a programming background and one with a degree in journalism. Jono, the journalist, found himself writing more and more about coffee when he went freelance, while Rob, a second generation European immigrant, knew all about the importance of good coffee. Jono was working in communication, Jeff was an IT specialist and Rob was working with tour groups of 200- 300 people, where he really had to understand logistics and incentives.
And then in 2004 Origin opened and everything changed for them.
In 2010 Rob and Jono were still only working on their roasting one day a week. At that stage there were many suppliers who were buying commodity coffee and just dressing it up and even as late as 2010 they found that there was no specialty coffee really worth buying from local green bean brokers. Rosetta became one of the first tenants in the Woodstock Exchange where their neighbours were struggling artists, who would pay their rent in artworks, and meth labs doubling as dried food factories.
Jono et al now work with a number of different green coffee sourcing agents who work between South and Central America with North America, Amsterdam and London. Jono says that they are so much more than “opportunistic middle men”, as proponents of the “Direct Trade” model like to portray them – they provide infrastructure to the trade and to the farmers, invest their own capital into improving processing mills, grainpro bags, and climate controlled green coffee storage.
Rosetta is not defined by one perfect blend. They would rather be a curator of a range of artworks – constantly changing with the seasons. At Rosetta they are happy to pay top dollar, currently about R450/kg for good coffee. They have sometimes had to make hard choices and will always choose quality – they would rather lose money and throw out a batch then not be consistent. This is the most important aspect to them – to be consistent, to have a good partnership and to build a name where they are known for their discerning coffee choices and their consistently high quality. They are one of the few roasters who refuse to let production be performed by minimum-wage button- pushers and they want to take ownership of the whole process. All the owners still spend regular time behind the bar, engaging with customers, and personally performing every single roast batch that Rosetta Roastery produces.
In 2010 their fourth partner, Ian Scott, came on board to bring some big business experience to the mix.
In 2015 they were voted best coffee shop in South Africa by House and Leisure. They were also voted as one of “25 coffee shops to visit in the world before you die” by BUZZFEED.
Apart from finding their great coffee at their store in the Woodstock Exchange, they also stock The Creamery, Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants, The General Store, Mulberry & Prince, Max Bagels, The Flying Boar, as well as being available nationwide through the online stores: Yuppiechef and Cape Coffee Beans.