I feel that I’ve done Joburg’s German expats a disservice.
I’d known about the Black Forest Bakery for years. I’d bought their rye bread from the Melville Spar, where it is sometimes (but not always) for sale in the bakery section. (I’m not a huge fan of rye bread, to be honest, but I still buy the Black Forest rye from time to time because it’s so much better than that bland, packaged Sasko bread favored by mega-grocery chains like Spar.)
I’d even been into the Black Forest Bakery shop in Braamfontein — 102 Juta Street, about three blocks up from all the trendy bars and coffee shops — once or twice to buy bread. I knew that the bakery is German-owned and has been around for a couple of decades.
But I didn’t totally “get” the Black Forest Bakery until I went there last week, with a German.
My German friend Fiver fills her shopping bag with German cakes from Black Forest Bakery. The sales lady behind the counter is South African but speaks German, because she’s worked at the bakery for many years and catered to countless German clients.
Fiver invited me to meet her for breakfast at Black Forest Bakery, which she found out about accidentally while browsing online. When I arrived Fiver was already waiting for me at one of the bakery’s two tiny tables, with a cup of coffee and a salty German brezel in front of her. (It had actually taken me a few minutes to find the place, even though I’ve been there before — the small storefront is easy to miss.)
“This place is amazing!” Fiver exclaimed, before I even sat down. “It’s like I’m back in Germany.”
A German Bakery in Joburg
Although I have several German friends, I’ve never been to Germany before. So I guess I didn’t fully understand the German passion for cakes and bread.
“Do you have ANY idea how hard it is to find proper German cake?” Fiver asked me.
I didn’t have any idea. Until now.
Fiver pointed to her plate. “I can’t even find brezeln like this in England!” (Fiver and her husband divide their time between England and South Africa.)
I’ve been friends with Fiver for years and she is one of the happiest people I know. But I’m not sure I’d ever seen her this happy before. And I get it. Like every other immigrant in the world, I understand that food is one of the things that people tend to miss most about their home countries. I know how it feels to live overseas and suddenly happen upon a place that tastes like home. It’s a good feeling.
I feel badly that I didn’t tip off Fiver sooner to the Black Forest Bakery. She’s been living in South Africa on and off for years and she could have been enjoying brezeln for breakfast all along. But maybe by publishing this blog post, I can tip off other Germans living in Joburg who are craving the taste of home. If you know any, please pass this along.
And even if you’re not German, give the Black Forest Bakery a try the next time you’re in Braamfontein. It’s a nice change of pace from the hipster coffee bloc down the street. Don’t get me wrong — I love hipster coffee. In fact, just after our visit to Black Forest I took Fiver to Father Coffee, which is still my favorite coffee shop in town. But Black Forest also serves decent coffee, and it was so nice to experience Braamfontein from a different perspective.
I recommend going early, because there are only two tables and they’re tiny.
By the way, while we were there we overheard the Black Forest owner chatting to some colleagues. They were speaking in German but I convinced Fiver to eavesdrop for me, and it sounds like there is a plan in the works to expand the bakery. So hopefully there will soon be more space to eat German cake on-site at the Black Forest Bakery.
Black Forest Bakery
102 Juta Street, Braamfontein