Koffiefontein lies on the R48, 140km south-west of Bloemfontein. The effect of taking a trip through Koffiefontein is like journeying through the dazzling pages of history into the present. The almost chronicled manner in which the town unfolds from old to new is captivating.
A fountain in this area was a favourite outspan for transport riders in the 19th century. The riders' habit of constantly making coffee is said to have led to the name Koffiefontein. In June 1870, one of these transport riders picked up a diamond near the fountain. This prompted the usual diamond rush and by 1882 Koffiefontein was a booming town with four mining companies. Ten years later the miners' camp was proclaimed a town and the name Koffiefontein was retained.
In the 20th century mining operations were suspended several times, the last time in 1980s, but diamond-bearing gravels from one volcanic pipe are once again being worked by De Beers.
Sheep farming is the main economic activity of the 1900 square km district which was proclaimed in 1963. Kalkfontein Dam (339 million cubic metres) on the Riet river, 20 km south-east of the town, was built to irrigate 7000ha of land on which the main crops are lucern, seed, potatoes and groundnuts. The dam supplies water to Koffiefontein and Jacobsdal.