Truth Coffee in Cape Town Finds a Creative Way to Compost

When we visited Cape Town, South Africa, last December with our friends, Sarah and Jonathan Robinson (we were there to profile sister and brother team Sarah and Jonathan who own Bean There Coffee Co. in Johannesburg and Cape Town, for an article which appeared in the April+May 2013 issue of Barista Magazine), they were kind enough to take us around town visiting the local microroasters ”there were a surprisingly large number of them!

David Donde, owner of Truth Coffee in Cape Town, South Africa. Here he is showing us his diesel-run Probat.
David Donde, owner of Truth Coffee in Cape Town, South Africa. Here he is showing us his diesel-run Probat.

One of the area’s most vocal and interesting characters is David Donde, owner of Truth Coffee. David gave us a tour of his brand-new roasting space when we visited, including a Probat he ran on diesel fuel. Now he’s gone and done something else that’s incredibly unique: he’s using take-away cups that can do a lot more for the earth than compost.

David has teamed up with NATIVE, a digital advertising company, to reinvent the humble takeaway cup, implating herb seeds in the brotector ring for what is called the Seeds of Truth Project.

Taking compost one step further.
Taking compost one step further.

Here’s how it works: once you’ve finished your coffee, you crumple up the paper protector that contains seeds, and drop it into the cup. Add a bit of soil and water, and wait for a little while, and suddenly herbs will sprout. The cups are biodegradable and can be planted in your garden.


“NATIVE approached me with the idea and we workshopped it together,” explains Truth CEO David Donde. The cups were recently introduced at Truth’s headquarters in Cape Town, on May 28. “For me, the aim is to show the reality of repurposing as opposed to recycling.”

“We realize you can’t stop people from buying coffee,” says NATIVE’s Executive Creator Ryan McManus. “But we wanted to help them reduce their carbon footprint and give city dwellers a herb garden in the process.”

The limited edition Seeds of Truth coffee cups, designed by illustrator Christiaan Venter, will be available at Truth, 36 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town, while supplies last. Choose from basil, rocket or thyme and don’t forget to add the engraved stick stirrer to your cup so you know which herb is which.

About Sarah 934 Articles
Sarah Allen (she/her) is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.