Meet the Micro Coffee Roaster : Laura Hayes-Foley

When Laura Hayes-Foley was a little girl she would accompany her mother to buy coffee from Colombo Coffee & Tea in the formerly named Gale Street in Durban. She remembers her mother ordering from Mrs MacFie, who had a white streak in her hair and reminded Laura of Cruella de Vil from The Hundred and One Dalmations novel and movie. Laura’s parents were avid coffee lovers who made their coffee in a perculator on the stove.


Laura Hayes-Foley and her Artisana Coffee


Her first espresso machine was a Krups that she received as an anniversary gift, her next machine was a Gaggia that she bought whilst visiting Italy with her sister. Her sister also purchased one and they carried around the machines in the boxes from place to place whilst enjoying the sights and sounds of Italian life. She is so passionate about coffee that this machine and her grinder would be taken with when she visited her friends for coffee. Her current machine is a small Brasilia that works overtime making sure that her freshly roasted coffee is perfect.

Laura has led a very interesting coffee life and she was a judge for the annual Cafe Society cappuccino competition for approximately 8 years. From too hot, mountains of milk foam, bitter and cappuccinos served with sprinkles – Laura has tested them all. Her love for coffee then lead her to take the World Barista Championship judging course to become a Taste Judge. She did judging for approximately 3 years in KwaZulu-Natal and remembers the caffeine highs and headaches after finishing a day of judging.  If she had to do it all again she said that she would instead have trained as a Technical Judge.

Laura started roasting coffee in a popcorn machine and she bought her green beans from the Coffee Merchant. The maximum a popcorn machine would last would be 3 months and she said that she must have gone through at least 20 machines. Buying new all the time would have cost too much money so she would search for machines at her local SPCA charity shop.

The days of roasting in a popcorn machine are long gone and Laura has been roasting in a Gene Cafe micro roaster for 6 years now. The Gene Cafe Home Roaster can roast up to 300g of green beans with consistent roasting results. You would think that since Laura had been roasting her own coffee for longer than 6 years that she would also have been selling that roasted coffee. That is not the case, as all the coffee she roasted was for home use.


Laura made making a cappuccino


So what made Laura Hayes-Foley start selling her coffee? School teachers! Laura has been a school teacher for many years and she teaches Handcrafts at a school in the Upper Highway (Kloof, Hillcrest, Botha’s Hill) just outside Durban. Knowing how passionate Laura was about her coffee, her fellow school teachers asked if they could buy from her. The name Artisana Coffee belongs to her sister and brother-in-law who run their coffee roastery in Stutterheim in the Eastern Cape.. They encouraged her to use the name here in KZN and she started selling coffee with this name in October 2019. As she is a micro roaster she is unable to buy a big bag of green beans from the green bean coffee sellers. Instead she negotiates with her brother-in-law for small quantities of various single origin beans. Of course it always depends on what coffee he has ordered and received from the supplier, WM Cahn. She has roasted beans from Colombia, Uganda, Burundi, Brazil, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi and Guatamala.

Laura has built a good customer following here in the Upper Highway by advertising on a Facebook group called Kloof Buy & Sell. Her coffee is stocked in the following local shops in Hillcrest : Good Source, Hillcrest Kwikspar, The Veggie Shop at the Mushroom Farm and at the new Your Real Food Connection in Builders Way. I first saw and bought Artisana Coffee when I was shopping in Hillcrest Kwikspar. After buying another bag of coffee I had to phone her and find out where she was based. The Covid-19 lockdown delayed my plans to visit her which I was finally able to do one sunny Friday morning (which stretched into an afternoon). Her micro roastery and packing station is set up in her garage with everything in place for when she does her weekend roasting. She has plans to upgrade to a 5kg roaster and then she will be a small and no longer a micro roaster of coffee.


Green coffee beans, Orders and packing, The Gene Cafe Home Roaster, Laura Hayes-Foley


So how can you try Artisana Coffee?

  • Buy from one of the shops that stock the coffee.
  • If you do not stay in the Upper Highway you can contact Laura to courier coffee to you.
  • Send Laura a message on WhatsApp to place an order for coffee.
  • WhatsApp :  082 926 8302
  • Like Artisana on Facebook
  • Follow Artisana on Instagram


Laura sells 250g bags of beans for an average price of R70.00 (this depends on the price of the green beans). There is a charge for having the coffee ground to your liking.


Artisana Coffee on shelf at Your Real Food Connection


Coffee in South Africa is a big community with wonderful people. From local coffee growers, green bean importers, roasters, coffee sellers, coffee shop owners and baristas – they are all passionate about selling, making and serving the best cup of coffee you can drink. BUY AND SUPPORT LOCAL.


Author: Nicola Meyer

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