We are headed to Underberg to replenish supplies and check out the area a little. "I want us to pop into this coffee shop," Nicky says as we arrive at a sign on the road from Drakensberg Gardens that says "The Olde Duck".
On our travels we love exploring and discovering new places. We've been staying at Drakensberg Gardens resort for many years but we have never been to this coffee shop. I suppose it's due to a combo of two things. Firstly, our "coffee snob" issue - we can't handle bad coffee. Secondly, our suspicion about coffee shops tucked into the back rooms of farms. Hey, but we enjoy adventure.
So it is that to our tyres crunch along the gravel road as we drive towards the coffee shop. I'm surprised to see a couple of other cars parked here. It's a Monday. It's a little coffee shop on a farm road. They have customers...why? I'm about to discover.
"Let's pop into this shop first," Nicky says as her voice trails after her vanishing form. The Vanilla Rose is a gift shop next door to the coffee shop. It's not your typical farm store shop, with a few preserves and pickled onions on wooden shelves. Whoever put this shop together certainly has style. It's full of gifts, tasteful decor items, clothes and other accessories.
However...I'm bored in 2 minutes. It's not my kind of shop - where's that coffee shop. I'm feeling a lot more optimistic. As we enter the Olde Duck my anticipation begins to rise. The same tasteful decor welcomes us into the warm interior where the sound of a crackling fire mingles with the chatter of patrons and the tantalizing smell of coffee in the air.
We are ushered in with a friendly welcome to our table by Di. We sit at a table near the huge glass windows that afford us views of the green fields, awash in the golden glow of the morning sun, stretching towards the magnificent mountains in the distance.
"So how's your coffee?" I ask Di. It's our standard question, although I'm not sure why we ask it. Everyone always answers, "great!" - yet few are. Normally I look to see what their coffee machine looks like, and then I ask to meet the barrister so I can ask them a few questions. Our motto is simple - "If in doubt have tea." However my trepidation is about to vanish.
"We just won second place in the Top 100 coffee shops for Pietermaritzburg and the Midlands," Di says proudly pointing at the new award hanging on the wall. Now I'm getting excited. However we have been to places that have won awards and not been impressed. After all, every coffee is a single work - and if the barrister is off his or her game or it's another barrister, it's just not the same.
It's then that we get to meet Siya, the barrister. He beaming with pride about their win and I can already sense that he loves what he does. That's a good sign. And I'm about to discover why he looks so proud. "I learned most of what I know from watching YouTube videos and then practicing," he says. Wow, that is impressive. It's time to taste what he can do.
Soon the welcome hiss of Flat Whites being crafted fills the air as we wait in eager anticipation. Moments later our carrot cakes are delivered followed by four works of art. Wow! Without taking a sip I can normally predict if the flat white will be good. This is looking fantastic. The foam looks dense, the cup size is perfect and the temperature feels just right. What's really amazing are the four animals perfectly painted atop our coffees in the foam - an elephant, beer, pig and rabbit.
Flavor, smooth, rich, explosion. That's what the first sip is. I've found one of the best flat whites I've ever had. Accompanied by a delicious, moist carrot cake, stunning views, and warm atmosphere we've stumbled upon the secret of the Berg, and I can't wait to come back again. It just shows, you never know what might lie at the end of a little farm road.