Sugarbird Coffee Co.

Each month, La Marzocco South Africa will be showcasing some of the best coffee in the country through our showroom in Johannesburg, and telling their stories through our Instagram channel and blog. Aimed at highlighting the incredible work that the roasters do and providing visitors to our space with the opportunity to taste some of South Africa’s most sought-after brands.

This month, we have coffee from our good friends at Sugarbird Coffee Co. at the foot of the Outeniqua mountains n George, WC. La Marzocco South Africa was lucky enough to Partner with Sugarbird and one of their locations in George, Poco Loco for the Eastern Cape leg of our Barista Heroes series in 2022 and were wowed by both the coffee and the space.

Stefan, thank you so much for your time. Sugarbird has become an institution around the Garden Route and the South African specialty coffee scene. Coming from a fine dining background, what inspired you to move into the coffee space?

SY – I guess the chef in me always pushes the boundaries for better ingredients.  I had control over all the aspects of my restaurant except for the quality of the coffee that was on offer at that stage.  This was back in 2010 and the coffee landscape looked completely different back then.  First, I upgraded my coffee equipment and then later I decided to take matters into my own hands and started roasting in 2012 on a Giesen W6.  I was blown away with the endless possibilities and opportunities that presented itself.

What drew you to the Garden Route, and how have you seen the coffee industry in the area evolve over the last few years?

SY –  My wife and I got married in 2005 and decided to relocate to the Garden Route in 2006.  This was purely a lifestyle choice as the city life was not for me.  I needed a “fresh start” as a newly qualified chef where I can hone my skills and live out my dream.

The coffee industry has boomed in the last few years (as everywhere else) and the quality of the offering has dramatically increased as well.  We have a very healthy coffee culture here in the Garden Route.  It is amazing to see the new shops pop-up with incredible product and ideas.  It keeps us on our toes!

Your social media presence for Poco Loco is incredibly strong; what role do you see social media and digital marketing playing in the development and growth of your business?

SY – I am a Gen X product of society and would personally prefer less “screen time” in my life but one cannot deny the power of social media marketing.  That is why I leave it to the pro’s to handle!  We have a smooth online ordering and payment system ( for all our clients which takes away a lot of our headaches.  This makes the world a very small place.

Where do you see the South African coffee industry going in the next 5-10 years?

SY – Hopefully the industry can benefit from the current market movements.  Although we are plagued by load shedding as well as constant price increases in our industry it seems as if the economy is lifting it’s head.  If we can get our “house in order” so to speak then I foresee a very healthy future in this industry. 

What do you love most about being involved in the South African coffee community?

SY – It is a VERY small community.  Although it is rapidly growing the pioneers will always be there.  

What’s next for Sugarbird?

SY – Sugarbird started in a quaint small location with the roaster in the middle of the store.  This soon proved to be a novel idea but problematic for space and noise.  We eventually had to relocate our Giesen W15 to a warehouse facility with ample space for beans and related products.  My dream is to build a “showroom” roastery again where the customer can be “part” of our process and daily operations – but from a distance:-).  NO baking, cooking, or serving except for amazing shots and good vibes!  All about the coffee.

Sugarbird has grown from a single production and café space to a large collection of coffee shops around George that includes Poco Loco, Ground Control, and Koekemaranka. The team has swelled to more than 20 dedicated staff members, roasting and supplying only the best quality coffee they can find. Stefan proudly states that Sugarbird only roasts coffee’s that have scored 80 points and upward in accordance with SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) and is committed to providing his customers with nothing but the best coffee available in South Africa.

A massive thank you to the Sugarbird team. Head to our showroom in Johannesburg or reach out to us via our socials to find out more about the Behind the Bean series.

If you’d like to know more about Sugarbird, and perhaps order some incredible coffee, you can find them at the below link:

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