Coffee paradise on the Coral Coast

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Hot chocolate and latte with cookies for afternoon tea. Picture: ANA MADIGIBULI

Enveloped by tropical trees, shrubs and beautifully landscaped gardens, Café Planet, at Korotogo offers you the tranquil respite you’ll ever need when travelling to, from and past Korotogo on the famed Coral Coast.

You’ll love the natural ambience that greets you behind the natural heliconia fence and marvel at the swaying emerald verdure that protect you from above like parasols.

Here the unique blend of sights, aromas and tastes combine to stimulate your senses and teleport you to an experience that not many coffee-themed establishments here can offer.

Café Planet owner, Adriaan Rodenburg, who first travelled to Fiji in the 1970s and fell in love with a local woman, started the roadside coffee haven in 2018 not as a regular coffee outlet but as bistrostyled boutique cafe.

Its high-end cottage features therefore allow patrons to enjoy unique, niche market products alongside a small but loyal customer base.

The signs suggests you are in another planet the moment you arrive. Picture: JOHN KAMEA

“We started here in 2018, about five years ago,” Mr Rodenburg said.

He had planned to set his coffee shop at the Sigatoka sand dunes but the delay in talks with authorities forced him to choose Korotogo.

“We chose this place because we liked nature,” he said.

The Dutch businessman first came to Fiji in the 1970s when he used to work for a Dutch trading company.

Since then, he has been moving in and out of the country until a few years ago when he decided to have his own splice of paradise and take advantage of the weather on the Coral Coast.

Mr Rodenburg’s family members owned Bulachinno Café, one of the forerunners to Fiji’s coffee culture.

“I had started renting at the cottage behind this cafe when the guy who was living here moved out,” he said.

“It was a one-bedroom place then so as the wait for the authorities on my sand dunes plan dragged on we decided to set up here and I’ve never regreted it.”

“We had to clean things up a bit and take advantage of the nice natural environment. I love Korotogo, it is a nice place and has nice weather. I’ve lived in Suva and Nadi but think this is best.”

At Café Planet you won’t ever get tied down by the hustle and bustle and metro feel of city street coffee outlets, although it is just a stone’s throw away from the main road.

The secret is the garden, which is protected by a living hedge and a sense of privacy that guarantees calming solitude and the ecological and aesthetic endowments of a tropical garden.

The friendly staff at Cafe Planet. Picture: JOHN KAMEA

“I moved to Asia and South America but Fiji was always home because I was married here,” Mr Rodenburg said.

“We had four children and three of them remain in Fiji.”

Café Planet offers all the pleasantries of a coffee bistro, with an amazing touch of home cooking.

You could take advantage of home-baked oatinspired cookies, pies, ginger choc fudge cake and Louis’ coconut and salt caramel. A side from coffee, there’s a small selection of teas and smoothies.

“We keep the menu very simple. Not particularly organic but coffee is our business, it’s actually my passion,” said Mr Rodenburg.

“We do what we can, juices, smoothies, a bit of pastries and other good quality homemade products.”

Café Planet sells home-roasted boutique coffee too, taking advantage of Mr Rodenburg’s experience growing up and travelling in coffee centres of Europe, Africa and Asia.

The cosy interior ofthe cafe. Picture: ANA MADIGIBULI

“Our coffee business is very high end niche market, small but stable. That’s just the way I like to have it.”

While Mr Rodenburg doesn’t export, Café Planet does send coffee to private customers who make orders from New Zealand and Australia on a regular basis.

“Perfect stop just north of Sigatoka on the queens road. Nice sitting area to enjoy a smooth cup of coffee. Simple nice treed area to sit or take it away. Lovely latte and mocha,” was how one tourist (robinreneebass) described the Cafe Planet experience on Tripadvisor.

“We stop at cafe planet every time we go to Fiji. We use their coffee at our Villa and always get an iced coffee for the trip Great for a chat Friendly service Oh, and the coffee,” Matt said.

So the next time you visit the Coral Coast, don’t go past Cafe Planet without making the decision to stop. You won’t regret being there!!

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