Bean There: Olympia Bakery & Cafe, Kalk Bay

Last weekend on our “discover Cape Town” trip, we decided to check out the coastal fishing village of Kalk Bay. I had two main intentions, eating fish and chips at Kalkies and checking out the infamous (at least on this side of the World) the Olympia Bakery & Cafe. So after my fish and chips, it was down to the main road in Kalk Bay to look for this cafe, which was quite easy to find and almost a strong stone throw away from the fishing port. Olympia is very popular with the locals are supposed to be famous for breakfast and apparently on Saturday mornings, it can be near impossible to get a seat inside if you are a late bird. Lucky for us, we popped in during the late afternoon, where the mood was lively and very down to earth. True to form, I ordered a double espresso – what else in the afternoon ?

Being a bit of a sweet tooth, I noticed that most of the pastries and cakes were gone – good for Olympia as they got to sell their stuff, but spotting the no-serious-cafe-in cape town-cannot stock pasties de nata phenomenon, I went for one Pasties de Nata to accompany my order of a double espresso. I must admit the pasties was more cake than pasties & custard, but fine for me.

My daughter was with me and so not to be left out, we ordered a hot chocolate too, which she took away, enjoyed and spilt in the car, hmmm. The coffee at Olympia is supplied by Origin Coffee Roasting, based in de Waterkant, which you can find more about on my blog roll and if you do visit Cape Town and rent a car, (you will need to for this trip), then I recommend the 30 minute drive from the centre of Cape Town to this village, which apparently is very busy during the high tourist season between mid-December and mid-January, because of its quaint appeal and warm beaches, not to mention Seal watching, fish restaurants and of course Olympia Bakery.


Bean There – New Coffee Shops in London

When my mum offered to take the family to London for a week during the Xmas period I thought “Great, one week away in good old London” and then I thought “Hey ! now I can check those coffee shops that I missed in London last summer”. So to start of the “New” Year, I guess it is apt that I start of with “New” coffee shops in my favourite coffee city, London.


So, as promised in my post of 17 October 2008, this time I found the new Flat White coffee shop, called the Milk Bar, located on 3 Bateman Street and also in Soho.  

Milk Bar is on a busy street in Soho and it has a bit of a different vibe to Flat White. For one, it seems like there’s a little bit more space, which doesn’t make it as cult and cosy as the original Flat White. They also offer cakes and snacks and naturally the star of the shop, the customized black La Marzocco is centre stage almost right in front of you when you enter the shop like a display. There are some seats outside the shop. Milk Bar has a bit of a psychedelic feel to it and I think that is what inspired me to add this psychedelic tint to this freshly poured Flat White, which I had to order naturally being in Flat White’s second shop.  


Not too far from Milk Bar is one of Soho’s landmark drinking establishments, Bar Italia, located on Frith Street.

Bar Italia is appealing to its followers not only because when you enter you think you are in Italy with tiled floors, manual lever ancient espresso machine, 1960’s style ring register and that continental feel but because it is one of very few coffee bars that is open 24 hours a day – “Now how cool is that ?” (one of my wife’s famous quotes). It is kind of assuring that if you are out late in central London and really want some good tasting Italian espresso, then you can find a coffee shop open all hours, where you can get one. So going with the flow being in a little bit of Italy in downtown London, I ordered an espresso naturally.

It had a very Italian taste and I’m guessing that the coffee beans had both arabica and robusta in them, just like the Italians like. In any case, my visit in the afternoon was quick and Bar Italia was quite empty compared to the last time I walked past it, when I walked on by because the crowds were spilling onto the street.


For my next stop, you will have to take a taxi (if you are in a hurry and can afford one) or jump on the Tube (London’s underground rail network system) and head for probably London’s most famous department store, Harrods.  Ok ! for those who know Harrods, it is located in the most prestigious and expensive part of London and probably the UK, and Harrods is not a cheap store either. In any case, I was drawn here because during my attendance at Caffe Culture, May 2008 (see my post of 30 May 2008) I spotted a Mirage La Marzocco machine owned by a coffee roasting company called Andronicas World of Coffee. I was duly informed by the owners that they were located in Harrods (confirmed by a blog post in and as the Exhibitors gave me a voucher for a free espresso at Andronicas, I thought on my next trip to London, I’ll try out their cafe at Harrods. I’ve been trying ever since, until now in the middle of the shopping frenzy that is London in late December, I dragged my 7 year old son to Harrods with a promise to visit the toy shop there.

Andronicas is located on the 4th floor of Harrods, set in a pristine environment that inspries you to relax and take it easy. They’ve got lots of coffee stuff around their seating are like cafetieres, coffee cups and this antique looking mini-espresso machine, which I couldn’t resist taking a picture off.

Being late afternoon, I ordered an espresso macchiato from the barista.

The owner was otherwise occupied and I was dying to chat to him about the shop. As soon as he finished, I quickly grabbed his attention and started talking to him about Caffe Culture and the shop. Being a true gentleman and noticing that I kept on instructing my son to behave and sit down, he offered to make him a hot chocolate in an espresso cup to calm him down, at least until he finshed it. I liked the macchiato and promptly asked the owner what part of the World they were from, but as it was their special 1849 blend and I wasn’t known to them (I could have been a secret coffee blend spy), I was just told that it is made up of 4 of the World’s finest coffees. In any case, I was delighted to detect two types of tastes in my mouth, one at the tip and the other at the back. Nice coffee. I tried to buy some bags of this special 1849 blend but being unique, Andronicas let you buy the raw green beans and choose from one of 5 different roasting blends, which takes around 25 minutes to roast. You can choose between light to burnt dark roast and I am guessing they would advise you which roast goes best with which bean, see below;

Now ! that’s really unique and if I had a specialist coffee shop I would follow this example. Sadly, because I was in a rush and had to take my son to the toy department I missed out on this opportunity, Ahhhhh ! However, I was informed that as Andronica have been supplying freshly roasted coffee to Harrods for over 20 years, I could get some coffee downstairs in the famous Harrods food hall. I rushed down there but the special 1849 blend was naturally sold out, so I bought two other varieties (more of that in my next post God willing).

For more on Andronicas, see

and if you can, I strongly recommend ordering their coffee (they might ship outside UK – I’ll check God willing and let you know) a visit and would like to confirm that Harrods is the best department store that I have been to, to buy freshly roasted coffee, because their coffee is roasted by serious experts and people committed to quality, who ensure that Harrods receive freshly roasted coffee twice a week in order to maintain the quality and of course their reputation.

Bean There – Dean & Deluca, Dubai

Following up on my promise, made in my post of 17 October 2008, to update you on the new Dean & Deluca Cafe, which recently opened in Dubai, I was lucky enough on my way back from Sudan (last post) to Vienna, to stopover in Dubai and as I didn’t want to let my readers down (what few they are), here’s my brief story of my visit.

I don’t want to go into too much details, but Dean & Deluca are a famous New York Cafe/Deli, with international branches in Japan only, until the branch, situated at the Souk-al-Bahar, Old Town Commercial Island, Burj Dubai, opened in Dubai this year. The Souk-al-Bahar is designed internally to look like, wait for it, an old Arabian souk (i.e a group of street shops in English). It’s quite a new place, dotted with shops you will recognise and with expensive souvenirs with dark calm interiors.

Dean & Deluca have got a really great spot in the Souk al-Bahar as it is one of a very few eating spots to have an outside balcony. Inside the shop is your typical black and white New York Deli interior and furniture. They’ve got a La Marzocco coffee machine and as it was still before 12pm, I decided to order a cappuccino. I ordered a regular, but was surprised by the rather biggish size of what I got, more for me I thought, unless they thought I was some kind of reviewer, but I wasn’t dressed as one. In any case, as usual I did my “Hey ! please tamp my coffee grounds properly before you place it into the porta-filter” routine and the barista kinda got the idea that I was serious about my coffee, even going as far to ask if I wanted milk with less fat in it for my frothed milk – of course I said no, as I only like the good full fat stuff. In any case, the coffee wasn’t bad, strongish enough to taste it with all that frothed milk.

The counter is decorated with colourful fairy cakes and they also have a shelf of some tasty bits and pieces right in front of the barista counter. Of course they sell their own brand/roast of coffee, which make lovely gifts as they are nicely packaged, but as a bit of a fuss pot and seeing that they were roasted in mid-June 2008 and it was December 2008, I resisted temptation and just took a picture of the shelf.

If you want to sit outside in the cooler months, which runs from about November to April, then their balcony sitting area is quite nice.

However, if that wasn’t enough and you are into a bit of sight seeing, then Dean & Deluca have the best spot to view the tallest building in the World, the Burj, which sits right in front of the balcony sitting area, Wow !

I recommend Dean & Deluca for a nice place to sit, eat breakfast and enjoy coffee – it is definitely on the list for my “drinking like an escapist” along the lines of “drinking African/South American coffee in a New York style deli in an Arabian dessert/sea resort in front of the tallest building in the World” Now Escape………and I think you get the picture of the place quite literally.

A Barista in Khartoum

A Barista in Khartoum ? OK ! For those who skipped geography classes, Khartoum is the capital city of Sudan – the largest country by surface area in Africa and the city where the longest river in the World, the River Nile flows through as one. enough about geography and back to coffee, which I am assuming you enjoy. I recently had the opportunity with work to visit Khartoum for a few days and of course, I did some previous research before hand to find out if it was possible to get some coffee from any reputable cafes, et voila ! (French for Eureka ! or Hey ! what do you know) the famous Indian coffee chain, Barista, opened their first shop in Africa in Khartoum, Sudan in 2008. Barista are naturally big in India but are also making a name for themselves in Dubai (see my post of 5 September 2008), so despite a very busy schedule, I manage to stop over for a late lunch at the Barista Cafe in the posh part of Khartoum, called Riyad, not far from the airport. The shop is housed in a large villa and is quite spacious with air condition of course. There’s also an upstairs and an outside garden, which I assume would be ideal in the evening if you are drinking ice cold coffee drinks, because the average temperature for winter is around 26C (around 80F). They also have satellite TV is available on large flat screens dotted around the shop. It’s a popular place for foreigners and the rich Sudanese to hang out, with an espresso costing about $4.


As it was the first time I was having anything that resemabled coffee on my trip, I first ordered an Espresso Macchiato to get that espresso fix with a dash of frothed milk. As someone who takes their coffee seriously or as a bit of a coffee snub, as my wife calls me, I ignored the barista’s advice to sit down and wait for my coffee, insisting rather that I would like to watch. Well ! what do you know, after watching the barista tamp my freshly ground coffee weakly, I called out and said something like ” Hey ! you need to tamp with a bit more pressure than that please, etc….”. The lead barista, who I later found out is based in Dubai and from Nepal, saw that this was a bit of a serious customer and decided to take over. The good thing about Barisat with regards to variety is that they try and source and serve beans from all over the planet and so during my visit, they were serving arabica beans from Cuba. Now how’s that for a line “I’m drinking Italian espresso macchiato made with Cuban arabica coffee in Khartoum, Sudan” – now didn’t I say coffee was the drink of the escapist. Anyway the coffee was abit bold in that it had a full taste and the frothed milk just complimented it.

But ! as this was probably going to be my only chance of getting coffee within my 4 day stay, I thought ” I would like some more coffee” after all an espresso macchiato is like an appetiser for those of us who drink doppios (double espressos) all the time. So I decided to order just straight coffee to accompany my chocolate doughnut.

This time, I was able to sample the real taste of the Cuban coffee, which was strong and so I defintley got my caffeine fix. I planned again to visit in the morning to try and get a take-away cappuccino but wasn’t successful in my endeavours. In any case, if you do happen to go to Khartoum or know someone who is going (more likely as they have many United Nations staff there), then recommend the Barista Cafe for that little bit of escapism.

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