The warm crackle of vinyl is not what you’d expect to hear from a glass-faced behemoth at the bottom of Bree Street. Here, at the base of the Portside Tower, sits Hard Pressed Café, Zimbabwe-born Yaron Wiesenbacher’s record store-come-café:
“Coffee, food, vinyl,” he says, “That’s what we do here.”
And it’s a fine blend. Of the trio, food falls as a distant third due to its lack of variety alone. The menu, mostly sandwiches and salads (try the Moroccan), is limited but tasty: “Our food is simple,” says Yaron, “but we do it well.”
The coffee, on the other hand, and collection of vinyls – both brand new and pre-owned – are varied to say the least.
There’s the Flea; chilli and a triple-shot espresso, and the Wham; milk, butter, coconut oil and a double-shot, to name but two. If you don’t have long to linger, ask for Elvis. He’s leaving the building.
The coffee is good; they use their own blend – a mix of Brazilian, Guatemalan and Costa Rican beans – and a 250g bag to go will cost you R70. The records range from R60 to R200, with some rare finds or double LPs around R500.
“Music is at the core of the café,” Yaron says, and it shows; lyrics set on seat backs, album art on the base. “But we wanted to offer a place where, even if you don’t find the record you’re looking for, you’d still walk away happy.”
Pre-work and lunch-time traffic is no different from any other inner-city café, but as the tower tenants haven’t yet moved in there’s still plenty of breathing room. Afternoons offer a quieter time to rifle through the records, crack on with some work – the wifi is fast and free – or shuffle some tabletop puzzle pieces about. Until the liquor license arrives, that is. Then, perhaps, late night vinyl will be what pulls people to Portside. But that’s ‘phase two’, according to Yaron.
“For now, the café is its own reward. We’ve already got a group of regulars, which makes all the initial effort” – like shop-fitting the café themselves – “that much more worthwhile.”
My advice: pop in before the tenants turn up. This place will be packed when Portside’s doors are open.
1 Bree Street, City Centre, Cape Town