Sunday, October 02, 2016

The Best of the B.A.D: The coffee shop ambience arrives in Accra

Last week (29th September) was International Coffee Day. Days like that are important to me since I am a completely unrepentant coffee addict. I like my coffee daily, strong and freshly-brewed. One thing I have always appreciated about living in that ominous place called 'The West', was access to a plethora of coffee shops. In New York City, there is literally a Starbucks at every street corner. As a grad student in London, my heart would skip a beat every time I handed over precious pounds at one of the many coffee shop chains that were there solely to feed my addiction.
Coffee shop chains represent a dubious brew of globalization and capitalism with a hint of a country's growing affluence. My appreciation of these places has not only been for real coffee brewed to perfection but for their warm ambience. Coffee shops are likely to have comfortable chairs, sometimes couches, places to plug in a laptop and if one is lucky, free WiFi. For me they represent the perfect environment to catch up with friends or work for hours fuelled by caffeine. 

Although 'coffee shops' in the Netherlands mean something different and if you ask to be taken to a Dutch coffee shop and expect coffee and cake, you will be sorely disappointed. Instead you will be taken to a seedy, poorly lit place with few windows and people smoking marijuana legally. In the Netherlands, the right word is 'café' and they usually offer strong black coffee and a heavenly slice of warm Dutch apple tart. So much better than any Dutch coffee shop.

Alas, I digress, this was about Ghana not the Netherlands. When I
moved to Ghana back in the early 00s, there were very few coffee shops or cafés and few offered that charming ambience that I craved so much.  Things have changed and the inevitable force that is globalization has finally led to at least two new coffee shop chains offering brewed coffee and comfy seats.  I managed to go to 2 branches of my particular coffee shop 5 times within 3 weeks.  I did wince at the heavy amounts I parted with to get my fix but for me it was also about that charming coffee shop ambience that had finally arrived in town.

The coffee, the music and the cool people

PS: In the past 2 years, I have come to realize that the strongest and most delicious coffee can be found in East Africa. Places like Java House in Nairobi (that allows you choose the strength of your coffee) or Mokka City Café and Lounge in Dar es Salaam serve the most unforgettable cups of coffee on this planet.  One of the most delightful cups of coffee I have ever had was on a coffee plantation in Mbeya, Southern Tanzania. Their coffee foam patterns were amazing too.

Delicious coffee at Mokka City Café and Lounge
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Coffee at Utengule Coffee Lodge, Mbeya, Tanzania

No comments: