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Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Coffee Drinking Chicken and Breakfast Blueberry Gin at the Magoebaskloof Farmstall and Cafe, South Africa

Coffee Pit Stop

Life happens while you are making other plans!

While trying to escape the humid Lowveld summer heat of South Africa's Limpopo Province, we were in dire need of a good coffee. It's been several days since we've seen an espresso as we were heading up Magoebaskloof. Halfway up the pass, we passed a cafe sign and immediately decided to turn off the main road to inspect further. 

What we found proved to us, as we've discovered many, many times before, that when you travel, you should turn off the main road and prepare for the truly extraordinary discoveries. This time, we found great coffee, learned about a brewery, fed a pet goat, made cheese, and had blueberry gin for breakfast.

This is part of the TWO COWBOYS' EPIC GLOBAL TRAVEL & CULINARY EXPERIENCE - 2019! 



DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS OR COMMUNITY FEATURED?


Harry and Agie are the owners of the new Magoebaskloof Farmstall and Cafe. You cannot miss the venue on the side of the picturesque Magoebaskloof pass, between Polokwane and Tzaneen. It is a farm stall stocked with local produce and a whole lot of heart and passion. You will find wine, gin, vegetables, plants, oils, soaps, pies and a little of everything the people of Magoebaskloof is proudly producing.

Yes, you are reading it right. You can buy alcohol-to-go on the side of the road in South Africa. Not only can you buy local wine, beer and gin, but Harry will also mix you a cocktail or spike your favourite latte for you, any time of the day. We were spoiled when we checked in. The Flatwhite was done correctly, and the locally baked pies were divine. However, it was the blueberry gin we had for breakfast that made our visit most memorable.

I think Harry played with Dolphins for a living and Angie, who is Canadian, were catching elephants in the Lowveld when they met. One thing led to another, and now a little Harry is running around the farmstall playing with a pet billy goat, and a big Harry is pulling espresso shots while entertaining tourists and regulars with his stories.

As they say, life happens while you were making other plans. We are glad to see the amount of passion Harry and Angie brought to their fledgeling business, and we wish them all the success they can handle. 

Observations


Turning off for a coffee at a farm stall is usually a reasonably trivial affair. We've stopped many times all over the world for coffee. It is often only about coffee. However, that morning in Magoebaskloof, something as simple as turning off the main road, a handshake, a blueberry gin and a pie later, put us on a completely different path, and a much more exciting journey.

We could have taken the safe, more comfortable option and simply continued towards the next town for a coffee at a familiar stop (which we did do several days later, only to have a disappointing coffee). Instead, our visit that morning with Harry lead us to a brewery, we discovered a fantastic camping spot by a river, we attended a local food festival, made cheese at an organic farm, ate a divine lamb pie, discovered cream cheese samoosas, and had a goat curry with mielie pap.

What it taught us again, even as seasoned travellers, is that you have to turn off the main road for your coffee. You have to say 'yes' to what is new and unfamiliar, and be prepared to experience and discover. If you do, life will gloriously happen. It will unfold around you with experiences you could never have imagined, even if you were trying to plan it.

Here is our Two Cowboys top tip about our visit to Magoebaskloof Farmstall and Cafe; "Go! Travel! Turn off the main road. Have a coffee. Introduce yourself. Say 'yes' to what happens next and enjoy the journey because life happens even if you make other plans. All you have to do is be ready to discover."

Buckle up and get ready for the ride.

Hendrik
Travelling Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.

Photos


Cappuchicken!

Breakfast

On the Road

Harry!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Eating Mopane Worms, Biltong, Pang and Pap at ATKV - Klein Kariba in Bela-Bela, South Africa

Coming Home


While Canada is in the middle of winter’s icy grip, we decided to head south towards the sun and to explore and rediscover our homeland of South Africa. After eighteen years away, not much has changed, yet everything is different. 

It is the start of the TWO COWBOYS' EPIC GLOBAL TRAVEL & CULINARY EXPERIENCE - 2019! 


Biltong Potjie at ATKV - Klein Kariba.

Township Tour - Bela Bela


More to come...

DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS OR COMMUNITY FEATURED?


Coming to South Africa is coming full circle for the Cowboys. This is where it all started. We were born South African and grew up during some of the more turbulent times in the country's recent history. In 2001 we set out to see the world and broaden our horizons. We are still on that journey, and it is ironic to come home eighteen years later to find it a place very much the same as the one we've left behind, yet very different - good different - in many respects.

The international perspective of South African travel is mainly negative due to news coverage about safety, corruption, and ongoing conflict. It is an out-of-the-way destination with concerns for the traveller. It is why the destination is unfortunately frequently moved to the bottom of the travellers' priority bucket-list.

Mexico is similar in that it offers phenomenal vacations and experiences to travellers and at the same time it is also marred by adverse news reporting related to safety and corruption. The difference is that Mexico succeeded in positioning its travel and tourism products by addressing these concerns. They've done it through all-inclusive packaging, offered to the travel trade, and marketed accordingly. Travellers' concerns are addressed through "white-glove" handling in a controlled manner, from the moment they step off the aeroplane until they are safely back at the airport's departure hall.

South Africa offers as much, if not more, at an equally competitive rate. Wildlife, culture, cuisine, natural beauty, history, human capital and yet, it hasn't even started to fire up its tourism machinery. It lacks packaged products that overcome travellers' concerns and that are competitively positioned and highly rated. If you compare its positioning and messaging to other similarly developing world destinations, it definitely has the opportunity. It is now merely a matter of South Africans grasping it.

The Two Cowboys hope that we can play a small role in promoting this unique destination, its businesses and its people. We will be sharing content about our experiences. With our travel partners, we will be bringing you along for an incredible journey.

This is how our tour of South Africa started at one of the happy places we enjoyed as children, ATKV's - Klein Kariba Resort in Bela-Bela.

ATKV - Klein Kariba


Klein Kariba has a lot to offer as a typical South African family resort. It is a beautiful setting close to the main cities of Gauteng, with great weather, wildlife, beautiful camping, chalets, glamping tents, and hot and cold swimming pools. It has been a must-do family vacation spot for as long as we can remember. The resort continues to be a local favourite. Weekends and holidays are packed with visitors. Some have been patrons for generations.

I know the place well. After frequent trips tenting there during the early 1990s, I eventually wooed and married my wife at Klein Kariba, 26 years ago.

Our favourite spot at the resort, then and it still is now, must be the restaurant, Koswerf. “Koswerf” is the Afrikaans term for an outdoor kitchen or cooking area. This one is unfortunately mainly indoors. However, with the beautiful weather of the Waterberg Region, there is ample opportunity, all over the resort, to partake in cooking outdoors. Wherever you turn, the iconic cultural pastime called "braai" (cooking over an open fire outdoors) happens spontaneously, every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We were fortunate to be hosted by Riaan Maritz and his team. They reluctantly handed us the keys to the pantry, and we kicked off our week cooking up a storm in the Koswerf’s kitchen. On our menu was a Cuban-style Arepa with a South African Peri-Peri Chicken Livers and Mango-Salsa twist. To round it off, we were introduced to the local tropical passionfruit samba sensation of Pang!! (more about this later).

In turn, they reciprocated with a Biltong Potjie (a risotto-like stew made with a lot of cream and cheese, and cooked over an open fire). We lubricated festivities with Caipirinhas as it was our turn to quench the thirsts.

When you visit ATKV - Klein Kariba, the resort has a lot to offer at its facilities. However, it is easy to miss some of the many attractions and other rich offerings of the Bela-Bela area. Klein Kariba sees its responsibility not only to be a destination of choice but to also encourage visitation around the area. That is why Riaan introduced us to M Court Township Tours. They afforded us an eye-opening opportunity to experience some of the curiosities that make up everyday life in a typical township in South Africa. We even tasted the local beer they brew (no license or permit required) and ate mopane worms and pap!

We visited one of the more popular "Padstalle" (roadside shops) called "Toeka se Dae". Here we were treated to freshly baked bread, home-made ginger beer, biltong, and enormous cold and crispy koeksisters.

Do you remember Pang?

What if we told you that we discovered absolute passionfruit gold just outside the gates of ATKV Klein Kariba? Chances are that if you ate anything real passionfruit-related in South Africa or Europe, then Stilhoek Boerdery had something to do with it. They are one of the largest passionfruit producers in South Africa. Nine months in the year they are shipping their products all over the country and some export markets.

It doesn’t stop there, they also bottle the passionfruit pulp with a swig of vodka and call it Pang! The range expanded from there with Mango, Strawberry and even a spicy Jalapeño, as its popularity grew in the local cocktail consuming market. Klein Kariba is fortunate to offer this locally produced godly elixir at the resort, where it is popular with their younger patrons during the summer holidays ( (legal drinking age, of course!).

Observations


After eighteen years away not much has changed, yet everything is different. Klein Kariba still feels like home to us. However, it is apparent that it evolved in that it reached out to play an increasingly important and more inclusive role in the more diverse local communities of Bela-Bela.

After decades, during which people in a changing South Africa treated each other with animosity and suspicion, it is evident that those that are reaching out to each other, are the ones making a positive difference in their community. Klein Kariba is the main attraction, yet it collaborates with local entrepreneurs and businesses across the spectrum to lend a hand and facilitate success for others too. Business is always more natural when people work together. Those that discover it early continues to prosper.

We are enthused to see that our home language - Afrikaans - is treasured by everyone, even more than we remembered. Yet, everyone is welcome if you speak English, Zulu, German, Cantonese or another language. The South African culture of food, friendliness and hospitality is found around every corner, and the beautiful wildlife setting of the resort’s facilities remains absolute and intoxicating.

Klein Kariba is for everyone. We cannot highlight this single feature enough. Yes, the people of South Africa knows it well and loves it. It is such a gem that they will be forgiven to try and keep it to themselves. However, we hope we can entice the world to come and see it too. We are so proud to be home and proud of what we see and experience, that we want to share it with the world.

Enjoy our programming and see what makes this such a great place to visit. Then, book your ticket and see for yourself. Come for the food, the wildlife, the weather. Above all,  meet the great people of Klein Kariba and Bela-Bela. You may just find us here as well.

We are glad to be home, again!

Hendrik
Wandering Cowboy!

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.


Photos

All Over the World - of South Africa!

Boere Cuban Arepa

Koeksister!

Uber Africa!

Bushlab

New Friends

Fans of the Cowboys!


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Vanlife Africa - The Two Cowboys Puts Touring in a Can to the Test in Pretoria, South Africa

Get Your Gear


How do you tour South Africa on a budget? 

Get a van and hit the road! That's what we did. We discovered that Vanlife is not yet a "thing" in Africa. We learned a few lessons along the way, and have some advice for people considering to give it a shot. It is a great way to explore this unique country and learn about its people! 

South Africans tour and camp a little differently. We think they are missing out on the flexibility of our preferred mode of travel. We set out to explore why it hasn't caught on yet, and how best it can be done on the fly in Africa. Maybe we can introduce them to it?

We started our journey by getting the necessary gear. It put us on the road for our first episode of our TWO COWBOYS' EPIC GLOBAL TRAVEL & CULINARY EXPERIENCE - 2019!



DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS OR COMMUNITY FEATURED?


If you are an international tourist used to RVing, then you will be glad to know that you can rent a more common motorhome or an adventurous offroad 4X4 bakkie (mini-truck/ute with a roof tent). A more affordable option is to rent a vehicle and a little mini "offroad" tent trailer. The trailer comes equipped with a roof tent, shade tent, shower tent, sleep tent, another tent, more tents, power options, water tanks, and a little pullout kitchen (We are not a fan - too many tents. More about that later). All these options are familiar, well equipped, but quite expensive, clumsy, and a risky way for the uninitiated to undertake a journey in Southern Africa.

Like other destinations, there are also risks in Africa. People don't usually appreciate what African risk means when they land from another country. The roads are a concern with potholes (very deep potholes), stray animals, and a general lack of maintenance. The 4X4 option may give you a (false) sense that you can venture into the wild. In Africa, even something as simple as a tree thorn can puncture a tyre, and a pothole can separate your wheel from its axel. There are also wild animals, dangerous insects and snakes that are always looking for a meal, entertainment, or a new home.

Then there is the driving. Italy cannot compare to South African impatience, breakneck speeds, and general disregard for courtesy, and constant violation of the road rules. Mexico is chaotic but courteous. Driving in Africa is merely nasty. A typical Class-C motorhome is clumsy to operate and difficult to park in most South African towns and cities. Class-A's don't even exist here. The pothole-strewn roads are not kind to these types of vehicles, and you cannot fit them into the available camping spots, anyway.

Security is an omnipresent affair everywhere in Africa. Camping or overnight options are limited to secure campgrounds (caravan parks) and National/Provincial Nature Parks and Reserves. That is why the preferred way to tour and camp in South Africa is with a "caravan" (travel trailer) and lots of tents attached to the outside. People head to "resorts" over weekends and holidays, spend half a day setting up, two or more nights enjoying the facilities, and another full day breaking camp, cleaning, packing away and heading home.

Most touring and camping trips are extended stays at well equipped, safe (however, not always that affordable) resorts.

Observations About Vanlife in Africa


If you talk about a van in Southern Africa, people associate it with the notorious minibus taxis. The little Toyota HiAce van transports Africa! It is the African version of highly efficient and affordable public transport. Larger versions like Sprinter, Iveco and Ford Transits are used for the same purpose on longer journeys.

You can use your overseas license to rent and drive the smaller cargo vans. We rented a Nissan from Thrifty Car Hire for our first leg of our journey. The larger vans require a special "heavy-vehicle" license that is different from the standard motor vehicle license issued overseas and therefore put these vehicles out of reach of tourist.

Some folks already realized the potential of the omnipresent minibusses to be converted into living accommodations and camping solutions. However, you are unlikely to encounter any on the road. It is too foreign to the South African wat of touring and camping. It is a pity because Africa has the ideal weather for it. Weather insulation is the single most significant and most costly challenge (next to power) in North America. In Southern Africa, like Australia, Mexico and New Zealand, it is the least of your concerns because almost every day is a perfect weather day.

For the budget conscious there are well-stocked camping stores like Camp and Climb and Outdoor Warehouse that carry all the usual supplies. Here you can find your sleeping bag, tables and chairs, mattresses, cooling boxes, portable fridges, cooking utensils and water tanks. There are also several local and European-sourced fit-outs available for a more luxurious build of a van with a bed, water, storage, shade and power options. There are more elaborate fit-out operations that will help you make the conversion a bit more permanent and the stay more comfortable if you have your own vehicle. We will be exploring some of these options in subsequent episodes.

The main challenges for Vanlife in Africa are ventilation, insect control (mosquitoes!!) and where to park. We have solutions for these, we think. Stay tuned for advice and more about the lessons we've learned.

There are lots of opportunity for Vanlife in Africa. Vanlife is not yet a thing in South Africa. It is virgin-territory, and for us, it has been an excellent adventure. It is also an economical way to travel and see a fantastic country. You can easily equip yourself inexpensively with the required necessities before hitting the road.

Add it to your bucket list. It is something you have to try at least once. 

Hendrik
Cowboy in Africa!

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.


Photos


On Location - #blybetrokke

First Night

Camp

Not #Vanlife

Mobile Studio

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Six Surefire Ways to Fail in Business, Guaranteed!

Being Afraid, Very Afraid


We broke a record. The Two Cowboys published more than 400 video features of small businesses and communities since our inception in January 2016. Our non-branded content alone included a further 437 productions we did for our partners and for various Business Excellence Awards.

For a total of around 837 productions, we've met, interviewed and filmed more than 3,000 people in three years! We did it in Canada, USA, Mexico, New Zealand and in South Africa. We also added France and Italy to our travels in 2018. How's that for being busy?

In three short years, we've seen and heard more about businesses than most people do in a lifetime. We thought we knew a lot after University, 25 years of management consulting and years in television production. Instead, we learned a lot more from these business owners in a very short time that we ever imagined. We now also know a lot more about them.

Some of the businesses we met were, and still are, wildly successful. Unfortunately, the majority were not, and probably never will be. We came to the realization, when we looked through the lenses of our cameras (cameras rarely lie) and listened to the conversations we recorded, that the majority of those that are not successful face a single, but a major stumbling block. It doesn't matter where the business is. They all have one infliction.

They have a confidence problem! Because they lack confidence, they fear and some even avoid being successful. Entrepreneurs and business owners lack confidence because they have no idea what is supposed to make them succeed in the first place.

To illustrate the point. Here is a statement from one ignorant, cocky, small, hot sauce business owner, somewhere in the woods of Vancouver Island. "We'll contact you if we ever consider paying for publicity!" Our reply, "Please don't. We'd rather be contacted by someone that understands that publicity is what makes businesses and brands, even commodity hot sauce brands like yours, succeed. It makes businesses go national and global. Heaven forbid that someone actually finds out about your sauce. You may just be forced to deal with success!"

The point is that even if you don't have an interest in the Two Cowboys telling your story, a business owner should grab every opportunity possible to promote and get positive publicity for their product and brand. There are many things you can do to grow your enterprise. The most simple is to simply get out of the way of your success.

Simple Business 101


There are countless sources of entrepreneurial advice available in books and online. You don't have to do an MBA. It is all available by tapping a screen and clicking a button. Every second "consultant" and "authoritative" online page carries the keys to the castle. They can give you the 8 steps to entrepreneurial success, 5 ways to make a million, 7 keys to marketing success, or 10 ways to a six-figure income with your laptop on the beach. Don't forget email marketing and there is an app for that! I don't have to point out that most of this advice come from snake oil salesmen, nobodies and wannabes.

Instead of listing another 5, 8 or even a 100 ways to make it in business, I thought of highlighting the five surefire ways we've gleaned through our observation and experience of how to assure failure. Avoid these mistakes and you are likely to stumble upon the right things to do, by accident. Business is not supposed to be hard. It is not something you have to go and do under duress.

What you do in your business should be natural and align with who you are. If it fits, it is bound to have spontaneous progression and evolution.

Before we court disaster, here is a simple formula we've distilled for a successful maker business:

  • Make something of value for yourself. (Product Development, R&D, Tooling, Materials, Prototyping, Testing, Validation, Manufacturing) 
  • Find people that value it too. Share it with them. (Positioning, Promotion, Market Validation)
  • Make more, and share it more often and with more people. They become your loyal customers. (Logistics, Supply Chain, Distribution, Labour, Packaging, Customer Relationship Management, Customer Support, Marketing, Promotion, Publicity, Selling, Fulfillment, After Sale Support, Quality Control, Billing)
  • Exchange it for the amount of value it adds to your customers' lives. (Pricing)
  • If your customers value what you make more than it cost you to make it, then you have a business. (Profit)
  • Have fun and learn how to get better at it every day! (Evolve and Expand)
  • If it doesn't work, make something else.

The same applies to a service business. It is even simpler.

  • Do something you value for yourself. (Tools, Expertise, Skill, Knowledge, Effort, Time)
  • Find people that value what you do. Do it for them too. (Positioning, Promotion, Validation) 
  • Do it often and find more people to do it for. They become your loyal customers. (Customer Relationship Management, Publicity, Marketing, Sales, Service, Billing, Delivery) 
  • Exchange it for the amount of value it adds to your customers' lives. (Pricing) 
  • If your customers value what you do more than it cost you to do it, then you have a business. (Profit)
  • Have fun and learn how to get better at what you do. Do it every day! (Evolve and Grow)
  • If it doesn't work, do something else.

Let us Fail


Here are some surefire ways to fail in business.

  • WASTE TIME: Procrastinate. Try to please others with a product or service you don't care for and that you don't really value. Do meaningless work that keeps you busy and pays the bills. The outcome will at best be mediocre and you are likely to hate every minute you are involved with it. Waste as much time as possible by delaying decisions. Go to the toilet often. Check your social media. Have meetings after meeting with your team. Collect your salary. Go on vacation. Have a hobby. The more you waste time, the less you will have to actually do.
  • SHUN CONTACT: Heaven forbid that people should actually make contact with you about your product or service. Avoid customer contact at all cost. Don't answer your phone. Don't return messages or that email. Don't listen to people. Don't appear on your shop floor and don't interact with your staff. Please don't answer questions or entertain proposals. Make sure your website doesn't have an address, phone number or email address. If you are really serious about shunning contact then get yourself a receptionist, a call centre in India, a personal assistant, PR Firm, appoint a marketing person, and get a social media handler. They will make sure no one can get hold of you. Be very important. Have many titles. Customers won't buy from you and suppliers won't be able to offer you any help. If you cannot be reached, then people won't want something from you.
  • AVOID EXPOSURE: Keep yourself a mystery. Hide! Avoid publicity. Don't have a proper website, or don't have one at all. Tell as little as possible about your product or service. Consider social media evil. Don't go near it. Never have a page on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Don't do any marketing or promotions. Avoid all forms of advertising. Remove your business listing from Google and maps. Take your shop's sign down. Don't put your business name on your vehicle. Throw away your business cards. Avoid telling your customers how to use your products and the benefits of your service. Remember, the less exposure you have the more likely no one will bother you.
  • SKIRT FEEDBACK: Customer reviews are evil. Don't encourage reviews. Take down your Google reviews and disable your Facebook feedback button. Don't ask customers what you can do to make their product or experience better. If they do offer feedback deride them. Make them feel insignificant. Be a victim. Don't respond. You won't have to learn and adjust your product or service and won't meet your customers' expectations. If you skirt feedback then the truth won't hurt you. 
  • AVOID SUCCESS: If you are unsuccessful you will have plenty to complain about. You won't make a difference in people's lives. If you avoid success, people won't care. If you are successful more people will want something from you and bother you often. With success, you may turn a profit and will have to pay more taxes and employ more people. By avoiding success you can have your predictable life. You won't be faced with challenges. You can blame your circumstances and your failure on someone and something else. 

The Two Cowboys


Our business is a simple business. 

We love researching, investigating, learning, meeting interesting people, filming and telling stories about the things and places that interest us. The things we value is good food, inspiring people, innovative products and businesses, great beer, and the freedom to travel and work all over the world. We tell these stories in the best way we can through video, photography and writing in our Blog. We feel the world needs more fun and inspiration. We hope to give that to our audience.

Our audience enjoys watching our programming and armchair travelling with us. Our programming is insightful, informative and entertaining. The people, businesses and places we feature garner publicity through our content. They win over new customers. More people learn about them and is likely to deal or visit them. It becomes a channel with much-needed positive exposure for their brands.

We are constantly looking for new stories and bigger partners to feature. We produce as much content as we can and feature as many people, businesses and places as is willing to engage us. We package our content around topics and themes. One theme we love to exploit is a maker theme where we feature people that create and make products. We have several food and cooking themes. We have a travel and camping theme. Overall, the Two Cowboys is an entertaining lifestyle content brand that we live every day and where we invite others to join us on our journey.

Our pricing models make it possible for the smallest business to afford to be featured by the Cowboys and for some of the largest partners to have constant access to fresh and informative highly professionally produced promotional content. At the same time, our audience can access our materials online for free so that we can reach the broadest audience possible.

Our business and our brand keeps growing even in the most difficult economic times in Canada's recent memory. Where businesses realize the power of our promotional capabilities they engage us often and with great success. We love what we do and don't want to do anything else.

Thank you for helping us succeed in our endeavour to show the world that it is a better place.

Hendrik van Wyk
Business Cowboy

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Not One More Lousy Coffee, Please!

The End


When is a customer justified in refusing to pay for lousy coffee? It depends on how you define "bad" coffee, doesn't it? It also depends if you accept and drink it. 

We agree that the bill for a consumed coffee must be settled. However, we are firm in our opinion that a lousy coffee can, and should be sent back until it is right. Accepting a lousy coffee hurts an industry.

See more Two Cowboys Coffee Content: Here.

DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS OR COMMUNITY FEATURED?


Coffee shops charge you before they serve you. Herein lies your opportunity. It gives you the chance to demand an acceptable beverage, or you get your money back. A shot of espresso can set you back as little as $1.50 and as much as $4.50. The same goes for a milk espresso drink like a cappuccino, flat-white, macchiato or latte. It too can come in as high as $3.50, and up to $6.50 at some "distinguished" establishments. If you bend over for a Starbucks, prepare to hurt even more.


We once showed a coffee shop owner that we've spent upwards of $780/month with him and that it didn't even include the beans for the coffee we make at home. The Cowboys spend more on coffee in a month than we spend on beer. That is very concerning (and a topic for another time)!

The point is that drinking coffee is expensive. Why then do we tolerate it when we are served an inferior beverage? We won't accept half a sandwich, a stale doughnut, or being served an overly salty muffin. We won't go back to a restaurant for a rubbery overdone steak and cold fries. Yet, establishments serve inferior espresso-based coffee drinks as a central feature or sideshow, and they get away with it. Even worse, some are offended when you call them out on it. 

People somehow accept the role of the espresso dice and console themselves with their fate when they are handed dark muck in a cup. "Maybe the Barista is having a bad day. Tomorrow it may be better. We'll try again later. It is the best you can get around here..." 

No more!

A (Dis)Service


It is time to call it, and we intend to do just that.

Yes, we know that we are at risk of becoming very unpopular with some of the business owners on our travels. However, as we've mentioned before, we pay for our coffee. If we are paying for it, like every other customer, we have the right to have an opinion. Even more so, because of what we do as the Two Cowboys, we have the intention to share our view with anyone that cares to read, watch and listen. 

This is a generous service to coffee lovers and the coffee serving establishment. We are gladly stepping up to provide transparency and clarity. As fellow baristas, prior coffee shop owners, dedicated coffee drinkers, and world-travellers, we intend to help coffee servers realize where they have room for improvement, and we hope to make the world a better place because of it.

This is part of the TWO COWBOYS' EPIC GLOBAL TRAVEL & CULINARY EXPERIENCE - 2019!

Good Coffee


The World Speciality Coffee Association (SCA) sets the standards for coffee. Standards can be great tools for the coffee industry as they are trusted reference instruments established by knowledgeable subject-matter experts. It is a quantifiable and qualifiable measure, based upon scientific testing, which set values and/or ranges of values for coffee.

The standards are the foundation of what is used in international barista competitions hosted by World Coffee Events at their very popular World Barista Championships. These competitions focus on promoting excellence in coffee, advancing the barista profession, and engaging worldwide audiences with a love for better coffee. Judges from around the world evaluate each performance on the taste of beverages served, cleanliness, creativity, technical skill, and overall presentation.

Now, let's be realistic. Buying a beverage at your local coffee shop should not be a world championship judging event! That is why we've lowered our standards to support our love of specialty coffees and helping fellow entrepreneurs that bravely venture to serve it to loyal patrons every day.

As far as we are concerned, there are mainly three important criteria that should be met for a Two Cowboys coffee to be an acceptable coffee (and not to be handed back for a redo). It should be well prepared, taste good, and be served in a customer friendly manner.

  1. Well Prepared: There is a whole raft of technical aspects that guide a well-prepared beverage. Bean quality and freshness, grinder setting, tamping, flushing, dosing, extraction time, and other elements all work together to produce a good coffee. Chief in these for us is the cleanliness of the preparation. Secondly, is the consistency of the beverages that are turned out. Can we trust not to get sick from a septic steam wand and expect the same consistently good coffee no matter who the barista is on any given day?
  2. Taste Good: First of all, the coffee should be made correctly. The barista should know the difference between a simple cappuccino, a flat-white, latte and a macchiato. If they are cross-eyed when we use words such as espresso, doppio or ristretto then they should not be on the machine. The coffee shot should have a nice dark rich crema and be well balanced between sweet, acidic and bitter. The milk should be rich and silky and the volume appropriately adjusted for the type of drink. Both should come together in balance and harmony. For heaven's sake, it should be served at the right temperature!
  3. Customer Service: Here is where many coffee serving establishments go to die. The barista's treatment of his or her patrons is as integral to the specialty coffee experience as is the beverage. If every establishment makes a reasonably good coffee, then the barista's energy and positivity differentiate mediocrity from excellence. Baristas, like barmen and barbers, have a very personal job. We've walked away from good coffee in the past because of a jackass barista, and we took our $780/month with us.
We give all three of the above criteria an equal weighting. Call it the Two Cowboys - Three Stars Coffee Rating. Unfortunately, one miss can sink a coffee ship.

Observations


We realize that the specialty coffee business is a hard endeavour.

From an outsider's perspective, the margins may look promising. However, with roughly $1 of profit in a cup of coffee a shop needs to push out at least 15 an hour just to cover minimum wage in most western countries. Coffee is expensive and a good espresso machine, more so.  Baristas don't earn much either. Even if they make a good coffee, most baristas earn minimum wage, or slightly more.

Our goal is not to give these businesses and dedicated folks a hard time. Instead, by shining a light on them, we hope to celebrate their successes and drive more patrons their way. We've already lost our butchers, bakers, dairies and our fresh produce grocers from our small towns. They've been replaced by large grocery chains. Our coffee is fast going the same route with a Starbucks and a Tim Hortons opening on every available downtown corner. Every second establishment now purports to be serving specialty coffee. Most of them serve lousy coffee. That is why it is even more critical to outdo the coffee making robots.

Let's not be distracted by accepting lousy coffee. It hurts the few remaining dedicated espresso hole-in-the-walls that are doing a decent job. Support those instead, like we do!

Hendrik
Coffee Cowboy!

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.


Photos

Dopio!

Fiagro's Whittaker's Mocha

Koffie en Beskuit

Morning Routine

Art

Heart Attack

Cowboy Love!


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Lekker Man, Lekker at The Lekker Shop in Hamilton, New Zealand

Lesson Learned


People that make things are good at what they do for two simple reasons. They like and value what they do, and they are continually working towards bettering it. We are makers because it feeds the single biggest survival instinct we developed as a species. 

Our oversized heads and brains are proof of our privilege and our affliction. Anyone with pre-frontal cortex will tell you, we are born to learn!


DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS FEATURED?


It is as universal as humanity on this little blue planet of ours. It doesn’t matter where you find people in the Tundra, deep Amazonian jungle, small Pacific Island or in London or New York. Everyone is driven by the need to keep our minds occupied. It is even estimated that our brains consume as much, or more than a third of our energy. We are learning machines.

What we do with this drive distinguishes one person’s life from another. In pre-history, the ones that learned the fastest to gather food and avoid danger were the survivors. In modern history, the ones that are better adept at sourcing information, applying it, and relating to other members of a community, thrives more.

We developed a considerable preoccupation with social engagement. It includes the elaborate rituals and rules that should provide relative harmony between ourselves and others in our group. How we relate to others also determines our standing. The better the reputation, the more fortuitous we tend to become amongst our peers. Our unique ability to better learn, adapt and organize, ultimately made us the dominant species on planet Earth.

If we knew that every waking moment of our existence and the majority of our biology is devoted to continuous, conscious, and unconscious learning, how will this knowledge influence our lives?

As a start, we will know what drives people. For example, now we know what drives the little baby to crawl and discover. It encourages some people to dream, travel and to explore. It is also the reason why our elderly are fixated on their televisions, and our teenagers are caught in online gaming worlds, pursuing the one elusive objective after the other. It is why mankind stares hypnotized at electronic screens concerned about the state of social affairs thousands of disconnected miles away, while unaware of the names of their neighbours, barman or barista.

If you capture the attention of a curious mind, you can direct it and effectively control the person.

Who Is In Charge? 


Fortunately, with our learning instinct comes a failsafe switch in the form of self-awareness and reflection. Instead of being “mindlessly” controlled through stimulus and response, we can reflect on the outcomes of our learning and then potentially direct it.

We can steer our drive towards something we appreciate and consider valuable. We do it through filtering and focus. By deciding what gets our attention and what to ignore we direct our learning. In this decision lies the single key that unlocks meaningful and happy lives.

If you are searching for more meaning and purpose in your life, all you have to do is choose or change your focus. Seek learning opportunities with a feedback loop in a context that you consider valuable. Your focus inevitably creates your reality. If you like it. Keep doing it. If you don’t change your focus. 

Lekker Man!


In the case of The Lekker Shop, they devote their focus, attention and maker efforts to not only recreating something special from their homeland - South Africa. Their focus is to make it even better than back home. We think they are on to something. They have lekker wors!

During our impromptu visit before Christmas 2018, it felt like we came home. We were instantly transferred to our favourite Kuka Shop and Butchery in the Bushveld. Thick Boerewors was waiting in the cooler and fresh Droëwors and Koeksisters in the fridge. Within minutes we were old friends. If we had Gemmerbier, we would have shared a bottle and put a vleisie on the braai.

The Lekker Shop is a South African shop and butcher in Hamilton, New Zealand. They call themselves the home of Lekker Biltong, Boerewors, and much, much more! Facebook calls it an "Ethnic Grocery Store". We call it "our store" because they brought a bit of South Africa to us when we were away from the continent. Lekker Man!

What stands out for us during our visit was the range and quality of products. One thing was more obvious than anything - they are proud of what they do! Remember, people that make things are good at what they do for two simple reasons. They like and value what they do, and they are constantly working towards bettering it.

Now, if only we can convince them to tell us their secret to the Lekker Wors - it will save us a trip from Canada to get our fix. On the other hand, maybe we don't want to know. It will give us ample reason to make another visit to our friends at the Lekker Shop!

Hendrik
Lekker Cowboy!

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.


Photos


Lekker Man!

Lekker Wors

Lekker People

Heaven in a Derm!

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Two Cowboys are Planning to Brew and Keg Our Own Beer on the Road with iKegger, New Zealand

Counter Beer Culture


If there was ever a time to justifiably promote counter-culture, then the time is probably now. 

More and more people are coming to terms with the real current state of living in our westernized world. Folks are waking up to the perils of consumerism, the emptiness of meaningless jobs, and the realization that even the things they thought they have, they don't truly own, and never will

Having more stuff, doing meaningless work to get it, and not being in control of what you already own, is no longer an acceptable way of living. Especially, if it doesn't make you happy and you have to exert more and more effort every year to keep up with demands. 

Some people blame their problems on someone else or on their circumstances. By transferring responsibility they are sinking even deeper into the abyss of the infirm. "It is someone else's fault". They have to fix this. There should be a law against this!", is a common refrain. The Government is doing it or not doing enough. It is Trump's fault. Trudeau cannot be trusted. Soros paid them off. The Chinese are to blame. Idiots are voting. The system is rigged!

Unfortunately, no amount of calling on the Government, someone else, demon, or deity, to solve our problems or bowing to postmodern moral grandstanding will solve the problem we have. Changing our leaders is unlikely to have the desired outcome. Protests won't work. It is more likely to get people killed or jailed. Life will not get better when the racists desist, men disappear, you change your gender, white privilege is punished, refugees leave, sinners stop sinning, we all become vegan, Brexit is cancelled, Mother Earth "saved", or feminism wins.

Taking Command


Instead, more and more people are looking for alternatives to the current conventional way of living, and they are doing it by changing their thinking. People are downsizing, leaving behind, moving on, checking out and taking back control of their lives for themselves and the people they love around them. 

These folks all have one thing in common. They no longer give away control and responsibility for themselves and for their circumstances - not to an ideology and not to an institution, religion or state. They alone are taking command for their own sake, and for those around them!

We like it. 

There are a growing number of "movements" that is evidence of transitional thinking. Homesteading, tiny houses, minimalism, self-education, growers, makers, Vanlifers and Fulltimers, are only a few ways of how a counter culture is developing. It is a movement in opposition with the conventional way we are told we should live to be happy and successful. People are going against consumerism with living tiny, minimalism and through homesteading. They are leaving meaningless jobs behind and becoming self-educated makers, craftsmen, growers, bakers, brewers, traders and online entrepreneurs. They are throwing off the shackles off locality by adopting nomadic lifestyles and avoiding mortgages, licensing and taxation. They barter and use alternative currencies for trade!

People are realizing that we alone can take responsibility for our life and our destiny. It is the only path to a happy and fulfilled life. We have to solve our own problems first before we decide to put the blame on something external from us. It is done in small steps and by tiny increments. 

We believe that people's value system changes when they decide to take control of, and for themselves, and when they start to make things. Something as simple as frying an egg, folding your clothes or making your bed has the power, over time, to change a life. It changes a person because it restores ownership. With ownership comes responsibility. This simple concepts of ownership and responsibility confirm value or worth. With worth, there is meaning and purpose for yourself and for those with whom you choose to share. 

Making Beer


We are big proponents of making things. Our hashtag states, #makesomething!

We are making our own beer thanks to the innovate beer brewing equipment of WilliamsWarn, and the quality concentrated wort from Black Rock Brewing, both from New Zealand. By making our own beer, we believe we make better tasting, fresh, more healthy, and affordable beer. We drink our beer without the need to front-up for licensing, packaging, distribution, excise and taxation. It is probably one of the most liberating things to do in today's age!

We are encouraging all beer lovers to give it a try.

We are so enthused by this that we checked in with Andrew Hope from iKegger NZ to see if there is an even easier way we can make our beer while we are traveling in our vans in New Zealand. He gave us what we needed from his selection of kegs, taps, lines and sleeves and we are set to start our van beer brewing experience this March when we return to New Zealand.

Observations


Andrew confesses that he has a vast and enormous love for beer. He and an Aussie mate came together and founded iKegger.

iKegger NZ is a kiwi owned and run business that specializes in stainless steel portable Mini Beer Kegs and Growlers which have integrated taps and are powered by CO2 through mini regulators. It's like having your own personal bar with beer on tap, at home, but also the flexibility to take it with you when you are out and about!

iKegger kegs are based on the same ball lock fittings that homebrew keg setups work on so they can easily link into existing kegerators or "keezers" and the fittings will work with your existing kegs too. We think that they not only have a better way to transport and keep beer, but we can also brew in the kegs while we travel. We will do it with the help of Black Rock Brewing ingredients.

Andrew kindly provided us with what we need to get started with our brewing experiment. We ran a few test runs during this southern summer and will be ready to showcase it when we return this March to New Zealand. In the meantime, please meet Andrew and reach out to him if you are in New Zealand. He may have a plan for your next fresh beer.

Hendrik
Beer Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.

Photos


Brew Keg

Brew Team

Beer Tanks

Hellfire!! Story for another time...

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Going Off Grid, Building a Home and Checking Out in Bridesville, British Columbia

Checking Out


"The total tax bill for the average Canadian family will exceed $38,000 in 2018 or 43.2% of their total annual income. This is more than what the average family spends on housing, food and clothing combined. And that does not include the impact of the newest "let's fleece the sheep" invention of a Federal Carbon Tax!" (Toronto Sun, Jan4, 2019). Believe me, the numbers get even worse when you dig a little more.

The truth is, we've been restless for a while as we saw our disposable income dwindle and meaningful jobs disappear. It happened also with our clients and our business prospects in Canada. We've been looking for a way out which doesn't include producing more and generating more revenue only to be clobbered with even more permits and regulations, while the Taxmen are waiting on their other side to relieve us of the meagre profits we manage to eke out.

We've seen many packing it in around us, and even more entrepreneurs like us, simply disengaging or sitting it out, hoping for a better tomorrow.


DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS FEATURED?

Don't get me wrong, we are not against some contribution towards the collective public good and paying our way for what we use. But when the "public good" is no longer in your best interest, then there is a serious problem.

If the "good guys" think that 50% of your income should be under their control, because they know better what to do with your earnings, then someone is getting hosed here and will be for the foreseeable future. Ask John Barlow and Pierre Poilievre. We have them on camera in 2017 proclaiming that they think a 50% tax is a fair tax! And, they are supposed to be the voice of reason in today's Canadian politics!!

No wonder the citizens are getting restless and donning high visibility clothing downtown on a Saturday! In New Zealand, when a Kiwi gives you a high viz jacket, you are the next hunting accident waiting to happen. People will read about you in the newspaper tomorrow morning! In Canada, the accident occurred already. You and I are the free-range cows that are getting milked on the tax farm with every paycheck, every tank of gas, mortgage payment, bread, beer, permit, permission and watt of electricity we use.

Where it Hurts the Most


Here is where it gets real for us. The Two Cowboys has been on a mission to showcase the stories of the little guy all over our home Provinces and even as far as New Zealand. We do it because no one else seems to have an interest in doing it anymore.

Media companies and fat not-for-profit (tourism and industry) associations have long been annexed, taken over, consolidated and corraled into the service of unsavoury corporate masters or empire building hold-on-to-your-job career builders. They are now manned by "Professionals" that are more set on attending conferences, having strategic workshops, and winning prizes, than walking the streets and promoting the stories of the businesses and destinations they are paid, with our tax money, to serve.

The people we feature are the value creators, makers and producers. They are the foundation of our economy and the backbone of our communities. If your job does not involve creating physical value, then you are indebted to them. They make your and my world possible. It is microeconomics 101.

We've seen that those of them with the least to give are the ones that are the most appreciative of the light we shine on their stories. Unfortunately, they are also the ones broken. More of them are bowing out every week than ever before.

Go Make Something


What should we do in today's circumstances where we are disenfranchised from our means to earning a living, and overtaxed and overregulated when we do? You can start a war but that is probably only going to make things worse. You can leave, but where should you go? Over taxation and regulation is a global disease. Our advice has been, and still is, "Go make something!"

First of all, make something of value for yourself. Cook an egg. Sow a button. Smoke a ham. Hammer a nail. Plant a seed. Harvest a berry or glue something. Whatever you do, take a tool, find some materials and make something with your own two hands. By doing this, you will start on a road of self-discovery, fulfillment and dare I say it, self-sufficiency. It puts you in a position to take back control for yourself and your destination. You will discover a new world.

Firstly, it will give you an appreciation for how resourceful you are as an individual. You will be challenged to learn. You will discover how much you take for granted and how little value you have for things when simply buy it from a store.

You will also appreciate not having to pay all the taxes and profits to large corporations that come with the store-bought items. Even more importantly, you will discover how much better an cheaper it is, if you made it yourself. The value you create cannot be confiscated through taxes and levies. If it is taken from you it is called theft! Better even, you can share it freely with those you love and maybe also trade or sell it.

Here's the warning. You will get distracted. The more you make something, the harder it will become to live on your credit card, pay the mortgage and stay on the hamster wheel of "modern civilized living" with meaningless jobs and paychecks that seem to never cover the overhead.

Living from paycheck to paycheck will drive you nuts. Today's world will frustrate you more and more. You will want out. If there was a red pill, you will cry out for it sooner than later!

Building a Home


We've been on this journey for a while now. We are living as nomads to cut down on our cost of living while we tell the stories of the little guys. We make our own beer and cook our own food. We've minimalized where we can. It is a lot of fun as you can see from our content. Sometimes we make a dollar from it. Most of the times we are rewarded with a growler of beer, a wheel of cheese, a camping spot, bread or a plate of food for dinner.

We are thankful our brand profile is growing, and we hope to turn a corner financially by being able to afford our mission in 2019. No, the Two Cowboys are not making any money. We are not even covering our costs!

Most of the people we feature are not doing much better than us either. It doesn't deter us to continue to do what we do with the single goal of helping more entrepreneurs tell more of their stories and our audience discovering more value in their own lives and learning from that of others. While we entertain, we hope to also inspire people like you. 

We need to make something big and realized we cannot always be on the road. We are going to build a home in 2019 with the help of our good friends at Knotty Pine Cabins.

This blog post is already too long, so I am not going to bore you (yet) with the amount of bureaucracy, permitting and red tape it takes to nail two planks together and calling it home. In British Columbia, it is easier to train pigs to fly. It will drive you to tears and put any sane person off even trying to be an owner builder.

However, we believe that the ultimate reward, for any man is to be able to build a home, even a tiny one, for his family. If this is the only thing we do, it is the single most worthwhile thing we can do. Welcome to our journey as we go off grid building a home and trying to turn a corner in our fortunes in 2019.

Let's go make something!

Hendrik
Builder Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.


Photos


A Home 

Our Makers

Making Us Famous

My Land

My Trees