Durban barista on Quest in Lisbon

Barista Musa Magwaza is the man behind the speciality coffee offerings at Quest.

Barista Musa Magwaza is the man behind the speciality coffee offerings at Quest.

Published Feb 25, 2024


Durban — A barista from Durban is one of four South Africans making their mark on the restaurant front in the cosmopolitan city of Lisbon, Portugal.

Musa Magwaza and his partners have opened a café in Lisbon which is attracting fans with their selection of speciality coffees, breakfasts, brunches, cakes and other sweet treats.

Magwaza, Hendrik Pretorius, from Gauteng, Sowetan-born King Biyela and Sydwell Seeletso, from Rustenberg, are partners in Quest.

Co-founders Magwaza and Biyela look after the coffee side of things in the restaurant, with Pretorius and Seeletso working in the kitchen creating all the fabulous food on the menu.

Magwaza was a barista at Starbucks in Durban before moving to Dubai to get a taste of the international coffee scene.

Magwaza said he had always wanted to travel the world.

“I decided to become a barista because I’ve always been passionate about coffee and enjoy the art of crafting delicious drinks. Additionally, I appreciate the opportunity to interact with customers and create positive experiences through hospitality.

“We are grateful that the city of Lisbon is embracing us. When I first met Hendrik in 2019, we discussed at length what (the café) would look like and how amazing it would be to run a place that specialises in quality food, pastries and coffees. And that one conversation led us to take action and create a brand that we are proud of,” he said.

He said Quest was a wonderful project, with dynamic people who worked there and a diverse team of barista, chefs and waiters.

“That being said, we do face challenges but that is part of the process of running a business.”

Magwaza said the feeling of being on the international stage and being an award-winning barista were dreams come true.

“It takes really hard work in crafting your skills to keep pushing to keep performing on this level. And it takes time,” he said.

“I was talking to somebody about this the other day. In my opinion, motivation is much less important than discipline. That is critical because you shouldn’t rely on a whim to get you to do something. I have learnt if you do something consistently for a month it’s going to be established in your mind as a habit and you’ll be able to do it for the rest of your life. And you just have to make a decision and tell yourself: ‘Yes I want to do this’.”

Magwaza said it had been challenging to live in a foreign country and he had to change the whole dynamic of the way he lived in order to adapt to a new culture.

“You need to change the paradigm of how you think, and also take a journey to build a new community and friends,” he said.

“To raise funding for Quest as a venture was a very complex process because I didn’t have a business track record so it took quite a while to obtain full funding for the project.”

Magwaza advised aspiring baristas to first decide who they wanted to be, to work hard towards that goal and never compromise on their values.

“Set a specific goal for the next 1 to 5 years and break it down to smaller pieces so you can start to take action. Weekly action, monthly, six months, a year and so forth. First pick an industry you want to be part of, that could be technology, hospitality, finance and so on. Pick a leader within the industry and work with that person for at least three years to learn the ropes.

“After you have done all these things, discipline comes in. Always believe in and work towards your goals and never compromise your values,” he said.

Pretorius said he had learnt a great deal during the years he had worked at other Portuguese restaurants, for example how to make Portuguese sourdough bread and the renowned traditional Portuguese tarts pastel de nata, but he had also introduced the locals, as well as the tourists, to South African favourites such as malva pudding (from a recipe given to him by his grandmother), melktert and vetkoek.

For those who can’t get to Quest, Pretorius shared his grandmother’s malva pudding recipe.

On a Quest to make their mark on the Lisbon culinary scene are South African partners, from left, King Bayela, Hendrik Pretorius, Musa Magwaza and Sydwell Seeletso. | SUPPLIED


What you need

1 egg

1 cup sugar

1½ tsp vinegar

1 tsp apricot jam

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

1 cup cake flour

1 cup milk

How to make it

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Butter a suitable dish – I use a 40 x 28 x 7cm Pyrex dish.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the egg and sugar until you have a thick consistency. Add the apricot jam and mix, then add the vinegar and mix.

Add the rest of the ingredients, except the milk, and mix thoroughly.

Add the milk and mix until well combined.

Pour the mixture into the dish and bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.

For the sauce

½ cup sugar

½ cup boiling water

½ cup milk

¼ cup butter

1 tsp vanilla essence.

How to make it

Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to boil until everything is dissolved.

Remove from the heat. Pour the sauce over the malva pudding and return the malva pudding to a warm oven for 5 minutes.

Serve with custard or ice cream.

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