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Barney’s Army Rides for Charity!

Barney’s Army Rides for Charity!

Barney’s Army is the affectionate name for the John Smit Foundation which supports the less fortunate in South Africa. When John retired from his illustrious rugby career which saw him lead provincial and national rugby teams, he saw his calling in working to promote rugby among youth who lacked coaching and facilities, as well as supporting organisations that provide abused women and children with the care they need.

Barney's Coffee Blend Cap

Barney’s Blend Cap

The Famous Brands Coffee Company and John came together to develop Barney’s Blend as a coffee that would not only appeal to the palates of South Africans, but would also become a means to  raise money for John’s foundation… and we are happy to say that Barney’s Blend has literally taken off!  More recently, a range of clothing items was also added to raise funds for this worthy foundation, and we are proud to offer caps and cycling gear in our shop along side the Barney’s Blend coffee. Have a look here.

Barney's Army Blend Cycle Shirt

Barney’s Blend Cycle Shirt

And that brings us to the Sani2C fund raiser that our Managing Partner, Brian Best, participated in to raise awareness of the Barney’s Army initiative! Held over three days, this gruelling 265-kilometre mountain bike stage race takes place in the beautiful province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) in South Africa. It’s not just the distance but the fact that it takes place day and night through winding mountains, forests and through river valley’s, as the route takes riders from the heights of the Drakensberg to the breaking waves of KwaZulu Natal’s glorious beaches. It sees riders hurtling along narrow trails in the pitch black of night and being exposed to hot days and freezing night temperatures as they cycle towards the sea.



Brian agreed to participate without thinking what it would really entail – an endurance event that tested both mental and physical toughness. “There was a moment I thought I couldn’t go on” he said, “but the team needed to finish and we needed to get Barney’s Army to the end. So for reasons I can’t explain, we just kept going”.


The Barney's Army Coffee Team

Team Barney (Brian third from left with John Smit)

Brian recalls that “there was also a moment during the night that I cycled across a narrow bridge at considerable speed only to be met by a beam of light shining up from the depths of the river below,  and I realised someone had fallen in and their bike was lying on the bottom of the river!”

It was a wake up call for Brian but fortunately no-one was injured…. getting the bike out the icy water in the middle of the night could not have been much fun.

Barney's Blend coffee team tackle river valley

Valley descent!

A BIG thank you to our Barney’s Blend cycling team and to the new Barney’s Army Blend converts for being willing to give a little (or in the case of our cycling team… a heck of a lot of muscle power!) to support the work of the John Smit Foundation. If your company, or you (for home), want to support the John Smit Foundation, just call us or buy a bag of Barney’s Blend. Would it be worth it…heck yeah!


Setting out on a daylight stage

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About Roberto Mazzotti

Roberto grew up in Italy in a family that ran the local coffee shop