Abantu Cafe

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The story of cafe@abantu


From Durban, South Africa to Cambridge


The Slade family (Alan, Wendy and Paige) left Durban, South Africa 23 years ago to start a new life. Our son Zane was born here in Cambridge at the Rosie in 2002. Seeing the poverty from the other side of the world, we wondered if we could make a difference, if only in a small way. 

Cafe at Abantu

The inspiration behind abantu


In summer 2004 whilst in France I read God's Golden Acre, the autobiography of Heather Reynolds. It told the story of how one woman made a huge difference, by changing the lives of so many children orphaned from Aids in the deprived area of the Valley of a Thousand Hills, located between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in South Africa.  


Heather and her husband, Patrick, dedicated their entire lives & savings to the orphanage, fighting the AIDS pandemic. They faced financial ruin, white and black prejudice, indifference, cruelty and a bureaucracy overwhelmed by need. Often there was not enough to eat. Yet time and again, through a series of miracles, and Heather's resolute faith, donors stepped in touched by the spirit of Awethu - the Zulu word for "Our Mother".

Manor Farm - our first home


Inspired by Heather, our idea was to open a fair-trade gift shop. We were offered premises at the lovely old stable on Manor Farm in Bourn and we opened the doors of our family-based business in August 2006. 


We celebrated with around 80 guests at our launch party which we shared with The Source Coffee Shop, just next door, and Elaine Storky (Chairperson of Tear Fund) gave an inspiring talk on fair-trade.

Cafe at Abantu
Cafe at Abantu

The expansion of abantu


In May 2010, The Source Coffee Shop relocated and abantu fair-trade closed its doors for 6 weeks of reconstruction, re-emerging as café-abantu with a new look and a new menu. We also expanded the fair-trade gift shop and happily stayed at Manor farm for 10 years.  We then received news that our lease would not be renewed, and so we began the search for our new home.


Our journey with abantu allowed us to connect with some wonderful people who, like us, aimed to supply customers with stylish products, ethically produced in a way that upholds the dignity of those along the supply chain. It was heart-warming to see that trade can be done respecting the world around us, and that there is a way for individuals and communities to trade their way of poverty by preserving fast disappearing skills, learning new ones and having the resources to educate their children.

Relaunch of cafe@abantu at Wysing


After an extensive search we received an offer from the lovely Wysing Art centre for us to open in the fabulous grounds of Wysing.  July 2016 saw us moved to our new home but sadly we had to lose our gift shop and trade as a café only. Our aim then was to source all our goods locally and continue to support the children we had adopted through Compassion and the Lisa Kent Trust.


We loved our time at Wysing, enjoying the nature around us, the continual meeting of the amazing artists and the quirkiness of our space.

Cafe at Abantu
Cafe at Abantu

Our move to Cambridge


The temptation to move to central Cambridge was too great when the perfect space became available and in January 2018 we relocated to Hobson Street. We continued with our ethical ethos with fair-trade tea and coffee, locally produced cold drinks and ingredients. 


Now we have many new customers but also enjoy visits from our loyal customer base who have followed our journey from Manor Farm. In Cambridge we became 'the people's café'