coffee lockdown

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Zero tolerance coffee shops refuse to serve milk and sugar

The spread of zero tolerance coffee shops which reject milk and sugar continues to grow globally.

coffee lockdown

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You will not be asked how you take your coffee at any of these establishments.  They enforce very strict coffee culture rules. To preserve the quality and taste of their roast they have adopted zero-tolerance policy on sugar, milk and cream.

Referred to as Third Wave Coffee shops, these coffee shops only use high-quality beans where a big emphasis is placed on giving the consumer a pure experience of the coffee.

 Fair and direct trade practices are central to the business, and customers can learn exactly where their beans came from and how growing partners and farmers are treated. The devotion to the craft and ritual of coffee is clear from the moment you walk through the doors of the beautifully designed coffee shop, and though your cup of joe is expensive, you have to admit — you can taste the difference.

Business Inside

But some shops are taking it one step further with this new trend. A couple have even so far as to stop selling “to – go’s.” They believe the tastes suffers if not drunk immediately.

America has seen these zero tolerance high-end coffee shops pop up since 2016 but they still only make up a tiny fraction of the market. There are also establishments following the same rules in Australia and Turkey.

And although South Africa’s coffee culture has a very strong Third Wave coffee scene, we are yet to adopt these purist principles.

If your coffee needs doctoring, it must be broken.

Black Black Coffee

Is this a good business move?

Sarah Leslie, a member of the Barista Guild Leadership Council, a trade group for speciality coffee baristas in Europe and North America says that there is a positive and negative side to this practice.

The image the ‘we’re so high quality that we have these restrictions’ can either alienate people or make customers aware that the coffee shops really take their craft seriously.

Oddly Correct Coffee Bar, a cafe in Kansas City, Missouri which followed the zero tolerance coffee trend has recently relaxed its stance. According to BBC, there was an uptick in business when allowing the options of adding milk.

Third Wave Coffee in South Africa

Although we aren’t quite as purist as our foreign counterparts. We do boast very high-end coffee shops who may not refuse you milk and sugar but may turn their bearded nose should you ask.

Here are some of the coffee spots in South Africa that take their coffee very seriously.



Cape Town

How do you take your coffee? Milk and sugar or with your nose in the air?