Truth Coffee by
Haldane Martin

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This week Dezeen is in Cape Town so here's a steampunk-inspired coffee shop in the city by South African designer Haldane Martin.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

As the headquarters for local coffee chain Truth Coffee, the cafe occupies the ground floor of an ageing warehouse that Haldane Martin stripped bare as part of the renovation.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

The space centres around a huge vintage coffee roaster, which inspired the design concept. "We immediately came up with steampunk as an appropriate conceptual reference, as both coffee roasters and espresso machines display elements of romantic, steam powered technology," explains the designer.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

A leather-covered bar runs along in front of the machine and is clad with shiny panels made from pressed tin, while bare lightbulbs and bells hang down from the exposed timber ceiling rafters.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

Aside from some vintage pieces, Martin designed all of the furniture for the cafe. This includes high-backed leather seating booths, steel tables with ornate profiles and smaller tables shaped like giant cogs.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

A seven-metre-long table runs through the centre of the space and was made using industrial pipes and the building's old ceiling panels. Stools swing out from underneath and power sockets hang overhead as charging points for laptops and mobile phones.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

Original cast-iron columns are dotted across the room, while new glass doors open the cafe out to the street.

 Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

Dezeen is in Cape Town all this week on the first leg of our Dezeen and MINI World Tour. Keep watching for more details here.

Past projects by designer Haldane Martin include lamps with ostrich-feather shades and the Slant shelving system.

Photography is by Micky Hoyle.

Here's a project description from Haldane Martin:


Truth Coffee - Steampunk roastery and café - designed by Haldane Martin

A turn of the century warehouse building on Buitenkant Street, in the Fringe innovation district of Cape Town, was stripped back to its bare bones, and transformed into a Steampunk coffee roastery, café and barista training school. With the exception of the authentic vintage fixtures, all of the furniture was specifically designed for Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

Truth Coffee approached us in 2011 to design the interiors of their cafés including a new 1500m² headquarters in Cape Town Fringe innovation district. We were briefed to deepen Truth Coffee’s brand identity and promote their coffee roastery business through interior design.

We immediately came up with Steampunk as an appropriate conceptual reference, as both coffee roasters and espresso machines display elements of romantic, steam powered technology. Steampunk's obsession with detail and sensual aesthetics also captured the essence of Truth Coffee’s product philosophy – We roast coffee. Properly.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

David Donde, the main face behind Truth, loved the idea, as this Victorian futuristic fantasy style and literary philosophy resonated strongly with his "maverick inventor" personality. David worked closely with us throughout the design process, and he and his one business partner Mike Morritt-Smith, physically built many of the designs that we developed for them.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

A three story, turn of the century, warehouse building on Buitenkant Street was chosen by the Truth partners to be their new headquarters. The building was stripped back to its bare bones, exposing beautiful cast iron pillars, Oregon pine roof trusses and floors, and original stone and brick walls. We also opened up the ground floor façade onto busy Buitenkant Street with a series of tall steel and glass doors. Most of the buildings natural, aged patina was kept intact and complimented with raw steel, timber, leather, brass, and copper finishes.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

The top two floors were converted into creative studio office rental space. The 600m² ground floor was kept as Truth’s headquarters and needed to include a 120 seat restaurant, café, bar and kitchen, their newly acquired 3 ton Probat roaster, a barista trainee school, public event space, coffee bean warehouse, espresso machine workshop, management office, and restrooms.

The huge, fully functioning vintage roaster became the kingpin for the space. Once this was located centrally on the ground floor plan, everything else fell naturally into place. We surrounded the roaster machine with a 6m diameter circular steel shelving structure, reminiscent of a Victorian gasworks.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

The leather top main bar, clad in pressed tin ceiling panels, is located symmetrically in front of the roaster shelving. Purpose designed overstuffed, leather and steel, chairs, barstools and copper clad tables create a formal raised dining area in front of the bar. A series of 5 horseshoe shaped, deep buttoned, high backed, banquet seats run down the right hand wall of the space. Each private banquet seat surrounds a leather clad, long, narrow, profile cut steel table.

A small cocktail lounge of blue leather chesterfield couches and a crazy pipe bookshelf is located behind the original industrial lift and a raw steel staircase that leads to the upper floors.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

The front café space is dominated by the longest table in Cape Town, a 7.2m long communal table with swing out stools. It is built from industrial pipe, malleable castings, and a table top made from Oregon pine reclaimed from the building's stripped out ceilings. A flickering candle bulb lighting and power cable installation hangs over the table, cleverly providing laptop and cellphone charging access for the café patrons.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

Further café seating is provided by the vintage French worker chairs. The over scaled cog teeth on the edges of the Café tables tops, encourage groups of patrons to engage tables together to facilitate larger informal gatherings.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

Further café seating is provided by the vintage French worker chairs. The over scaled cog teeth on the edges of the Café tables tops, encourage groups of patrons to engage tables together to facilitate larger informal gatherings.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

The barista coffee school is located in the front right hand corner of the space and has a coffee & sandwich hatch open onto the sidewalk for passing pedestrians. Vintage steel stools and old worn school desks placed on the sidewalk create the ideal environment for a quick coffee break for the creative entrepreneurs that work in the area.

Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin

The kitchen, public event space, coffee bean warehouse, espresso machine repair workshop, and management office is located towards the back of the space.The owners of Truth Coffee demonstrated their understanding of the value of taking a concept all the way through to the finest details by allowing us to treat the restroom spaces with the same Steampunk aesthetic – exposed copper pipes, Victorian tap levers, pull chains and floor tiles, spun brass basins, and brass shaving mirrors. The Little Hattery also created the most outlandish Steampunk uniforms and hats for the eccentric staff to complete the look.

With the exception of the authentic vintage fixtures, all of the furniture was specifically designed for Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin and his interior design team. The result is an iconic space with true Steampunk character.

  • http://www.builtfabricblog.blogspot.com archirube

    One of the many great litte shops, cafes etc. that have suddenly started springing up here showcasing great design.

  • rpg

    I challenge everyone to find a new coffee shop that DOESN”T look like this.

  • http://www.repenso.com Antny

    Vintage, modern and exciting. Great work and a nice departure from the typical quiet coffee house.

  • moe

    Looks good, but I’d get a tetanus shot before walking in there.

  • http://www.peacockteaandcoffee.co.za/ Peacock Coffee

    The place looks amazing.