Luke Van der Merwe

Who is Luke van der Merwe?

Luke van der Merwe is a self taught chef & barista. I am the creative director of Counter Culture and just love food & coffee. My love affair with both coffee & food sees me behind the machine and in the kitchen more than I should be haha, but I dig it. I enjoy challenging the norms of society – call it my creative side but why must I abide by some else’s set of norms/rules. It’s not me trying to be a rebel, it’s me discovering my own path. I live for family and friends. If I could spend 100% of my time in the ocean I would.

What is your best childhood memory?

Family holidays. Growing up in Jozi meant that we were deprived of the ocean for long periods of time. The excitement of heading down to the coast at 1 am in the morning in my ballie’s kombi is a feeling that will never leave me. I still get amped to this day to head down to the beach even though its 2 minutes from the house.


If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?

I don’t think there is anything I’d do over as I believe everything we do has it’s purpose, even if it is negative, it’s negative so that you can learn from it and turn it into a positive. If that makes sense haha.

On a side note I would definitely do over the flat white I just finished whilst chatting to you.

What do you feel most proud of?

I feel proud to be where I am today. It hasn’t been an easy road, with lots of failures along the way. I’m amped that I have been able to pick myself up and progress further to where I am today. It has been a struggle not being a qualified chef & barista, people tend to not take you seriously – screw them (wink emoji). I’m especially proud of the latest brand I’ve been involved in – Counter Culture. The public’s response to the brand has been overwhelming. I am proud that I am in a position to educate people on coffee, food and a few other things like phenomenal gin, whiskey & wine. I am proud to call myself a young entrepreneur, chef & barista.


If you could only keep three possessions, what would they be and why?

My surfboard – you never know when you might stumble across a hidden gem of a wave. My camera – photography is fast becoming a huge passion of mine. My 1984 Honda CB 550 – so I can get from A to B.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Loving Husband & Father.


What is Counter Culture?

Counter Culture is a cultural narrative establishment, found in the heart of Old Town Ballito. Formed with the goal of providing a venue that showcases the culture and lifestyle, that not only we as a brand value, but the culture and lifestyle that we encompass and live everyday.

The café focuses on coffee first and formost, shifting into a gin, wine and whiskey bar by night. Our main aim is to embody a space where our customers can feel at home and where the atmosphere is chilled and laid back. Secondly to that, the café focuses on educating customers on all things coffee, gin, wine & whiskey – we absolutely love to teach our valued customers how we like do to things around here at Counter Culture.

Additionally, the brand offers a selection of custom built motorbikes, apparel and surfboards, all under one roof. Counter Culture is essentially a café that provides a platform for customers to physically interact with our brand, on a daily basis.

What’s your favorite kind of coffee?

In the morning nothing beats a flat white (pulled as a double ristretto shot) and the afternoon staple drink is a V60 pourover. At the moment I’m really enjoying beans coming out of Burundi.


In which coffee shops are we likely to bump into you?

In Durbs – when I’m not at Counter Culture I will be at Colombo Coffee in the morning and Republik in the afternoon.

On my trips to the mother city, you’ll find me at Espresso Lab, The House of Machines & Yours Truly.

What does a perfect day look like?

Surf, coffee, food, people – and a sneaky old fashioned in evening.


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