HAVEN FOR COF­FEE LOVERS

HI Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - STORY AND PHO­TOG­RA­PHY SALIM AL AFIFI — salim@time­so­fo­man.com

At Africa Cof­fee House in Seeb ex­pe­ri­ence the flavours of unadul­ter­ated African cof­fee amidst its tra­di­tional set­ting.

What’s bet­ter than a cup of cof­fee? A cup of cof­fee that’s been brought up straight out of the land of gold, roasted to give taste­buds and nos­trils a golden treat. Yes, cof­fee is a morn­ing rit­ual best served African. Fact. That’s why I re­li­giously squeeze an hour on Friday for my cup of iced Amer­i­cano with whipped cream at Africa Cof­fee House in Al Mawaleh.

Cof­fee drink­ing is of­ten tied into a habit in which we all take part in. A morn­ing with no cof­fee is no morn­ing to me, and ever since I dis­cov­ered that mix­ing Amer­i­cano’s strong cof­fee with cream gives life, I’ve been drink­ing it like nobody’s busi­ness.

I found out about this cosy place af­ter I went there to meet a client for a photo-shoot, and she said to me “this is the best cof­fee you’ll ever have, I put my money on it”. I nod­ded think­ing to my­self that this will prob­a­bly be just an­other café with tons of typ­i­cal op­tions, but I was wrong, their Amer­i­cano was as strong and flavour­ful as their home­made cof­fee that my mother pre­pares, and that won me over. Ever since that en­counter, I’ve be­come a reg­u­lar cus­tomer. But cof­fee isn’t the only thing that keeps me com­ing back here ev­ery Friday. The raw, tra­di­tional at­mos­phere is an­other fea­ture that’s not to be missed.

As you en­ter the place, you’ll im­me­di­ately no­tice the tribal in­te­rior that packs loads of char­ac­ter. The place is noth­ing short of a trip to lit­tle Africa. You have your puffy so­fas, adorned with cush­ions cov­ered in tra­di­tional pat­tered-cloth known as Kitenge; wooden floors and ta­bles that give you a touch of rus­tic na­ture; a wall dec­o­rated with geo­met­ric and tribal de­signs in black and blood red; paint­ings and hand-carved African masks grac­ing the walls; an an­i­mal head; and minia­ture or­na­men­tal pieces on dis­play in­clud­ing be­daz­zled san­dals, stat­ues, more pat­terned fab­rics, and a mix of vin­tage and con­tem­po­rary lights. Over­all, a great place to chill.

I had the plea­sure of meet­ing Nshimiy­i­mana Sad­dam (sim­ply Sad­dam), a very tal­ented Barista from Rwanda, who mas­tered the art of cof­fee-mak­ing. With him I got to learn more about the African cul­ture and their love for cof­fees. Sad­dam has been a barista for many years, work­ing in five star ho­tels back in Rwanda, he has a ton of knowl­edge when it comes to serv­ing this nutty drink. Ac­cord­ing to him, what sets apart African cof­fee from those of other coun­tries is the soil, and the fact that they have less ad­vanced meth­ods of pro­duc­ing cof­fees. It ends up tast­ing raw and just de­li­cious. Un­like Omani kahwa, African cof­fee is never mixed with other in­gre­di­ents. No car­damom or rose wa­ter. At the café, they serve roasted beans from ei­ther Rwanda or Bu­rundi.

The menu here is short and sim­ple. For bev­er­ages, there are cof­fee house sta­ples such as espres­sos, cap­puc­ci­nos, mochas, fil­tered cof­fees, and hot co­coa, as well as frap­puc­c­ci­nos with sig­na­ture blends like Nutella beans. Fresh juices and brewed teas are also on of­fer. For quick bites, you can go for in-house beef slid­ers, or you can con­tinue with the African ex­pe­ri­ence and or­der a cha­p­atti wrap with chicken, beef, or omelette. Daily fresh African snacks are served by the counter. Chicken and beef sam­boosa, chicken em­panada, and chicken vi­tum­buwa. In the sweets depart­ment you have whipped cheese­cakes, muffins, and my ab­so­lute favourite co­conut cake.

This time around I or­dered a num­ber of things, for good mea­sures. I had my usual iced Amer­i­cano with cream. It tasted strong, dense, and amaz­ing. Sad­dam made me a re­fresh­ing drink made of cof­fee and milk, topped with whipped cream, driz­zled with cof­fee and caramel, and tossed with a bunch of cof­fee beans for ad­di­tional nutty flavour. The drink was great, still love my iced Amer­i­cano though. Your African ex­pe­ri­ence is not com­plete with­out a glass of fresh, punchy pas­sion fruit juice. The drink is a sta­ple in al­most all Swahili house­holds, and restau­rants are no dif­fer­ent. The taste is fan­tas­tic and very re­fresh­ing.

To ac­com­pany my cof­fee, I had a co­conut cake, a soft-yet-spongy baked cake, topped with flakes of shred­ded co­conut. The taste was per­fec­tion, to­tally rec­om­mended this treat for those who love baked sweets.

This is by far my favourite authen­tic African cof­fee house in Seeb. Whether you’ll be com­ing here for their cof­fees and Swahili snacks, or to sit and re­lax in a tribal am­biance with mu­sic and free Wi-Fi, you will surely be in re­lax­ation mode for the whole week.

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