East Meets West in the Heart of Cairo
By Dr. Maged El Bialy
Have you, while on tour, ever longed for an early cup of coffee like the one served to you at home? In the following review, I will introduce you to two very famous spots in Egypt where you can sit back, relax and enjoy your coffee, Western or Arabic style. By Maged el-Bialy.
The Coffee Roastery
First, let us drop in Mohandessin, a very nice part of the city. It is early in the morning and you are just longing for a latte or an original American coffee, flavoured if you like. A major hangout for all ages is the "Coffee Roastery" owned by a family originally from Jordan. They do serve Turkish coffee, but that is about the only thing on the menu that is not Western. When you go in the "Roastery" (known locally by that name), you will find that its decoration is very westernized. Wooden tables, soft lamplight and fans that look like those in an old western bar! If you are in a large group, you can sit at one of the round tables, suitable for 8 to 10 guests. The chairs are comfortable, and what I like most are the skylights in the ceiling. Here, I can enjoy coffee in the sunshine and air-conditioning at the same time! Generally speaking, the atmosphere is cozy and quite relaxing. The waiters there are very hospitable and friendly. They are always smiling and you will even be seated by a host, which is very hospitable for a coffee shop.
As for entertainment in The Coffee Roastery, MTV is the show of choice on the TV screens throughout the shop. As an alternative, sometimes only music is played from an expensively installed sound system and their taste in music will be familiar to a Westerner.
If I were to list the menu of The Coffee Roastery, then this article would be a very lengthy one. To tell you the truth, the bread here may be a little bit too crunchy but overall they have a variety of sandwiches that would kick you off your diet in a second. Roast beef and smoked turkey sandwiches served with both French fries and pickles are a great delicacy in the Roastery. There are a few salads but the sweets there are numerous, varying from muffins to sweet crepes and cakes. The brownies there are my favorite. Enough talking about food and let us go back to the main menu of hot and cold drinks. At the Roastery, you can find all the drinks you would find in any coffeehouse back home. You can find a regular mug of American coffee to tea with different fruit flavors served hot in a brass kettle. You can have your latte hot if you feel cold or you can have it cold if you feel hot! Do not forget to order it with your favorite flavor.
The Coffee Roastery might seem to be an expensive place but in reality it is very affordable and is like any regular coffeehouse. Sandwich prices cost around 4US$ to 6US$. Drinks vary from 1US$ to 3US$. There is no cover charge from 8 am to 1pm and from 5pm to 7pm. In between these times, there is a cover charge of about 4 US$. I think the rates are very reasonable. Hours of operation are from 8 am to 2 am. I prefer to go early morning or in the afternoon as the place might get quite crowded and you might have to wait for 10 minutes until you are seated. It is also worthy to mention that the Coffee Roastery has four branches and a fifth one under construction, all in upper class parts of the city.
Addresses: 3 MEKKA ST., El-MOHANDESEEN, TEL: 37610995
46 NADI EL SAID ST., DOKKI, TEL 37498882-37600735
140, 26 JULY ST., ZAMALEK, TEL: 27380936
11,ROAD 18, MAADI, TEL: 23587189
Naguib Mahfouz Caf
You are in Khan El Khalili in old Cairo, not in the mood for an iced latte but still want to chill away from the heat in a nice air-conditioned spot. Then Naguib Mahfouz caf is right at the end of the alley. It cannot be missed and anybody will guide you to it. Oberoi hotels manage Naguib Mahfouz caf (named after the famous Egyptian novelist). It is a five star place in the middle of a folk place. Hospitality and service are all five star, so no comment is necessary about that. The atmosphere is very oriental. The source of entertainment is from the Takht, which is a band of musicians, all playing oriental instruments and singing old Arabic songs. The Takht is at the front area of the caf but if you are looking for a quieter atmosphere then I suggest you go to the back area. Where you can seat yourself in large comfortable cushioned chair and if you are interested, you can listen to the fortuneteller who will charge you money to say her phrases.
Decorations in Naguib Mahfouz caf are all Islamic taken from the surrounding location of the caf. You may sit on a chair decorated with embedded pearls or have your drinks served on a brass table. Yet the walls are normal and do not resemble any Islamic architecture. On the whole you will not feel that you have been transported very far from the Khan.
Drinks are all oriental drinks for example the famous mint tea or Turkish coffee they serve. You could try the tamarind (served cold) or sahlap (very warming) there if you are willing to go through the experience of pure Arabic drinks. Food is not available, but if you are really hungry you can sit in the adjacent restaurant which I will write a review later on. If you are a smoker, or even an occasional smoker, then you might enjoy the hookah pipe with the famous flavors of apples, mint or bahrainy.
There is a cover charge of almost 6US$ which will buy you two drinks or a drink and a hookah pipe. Naguib Mahfouz is a very popular place in Khan EL Khalili where you can get away, for a couple of minutes, from the noisy and busy alley of the Khan. Opening hours is from 9 am to 1 am but may extend beyond that.
Address:5, EL BADISTAN LANE, KHAN EL KHALILI
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Editor's Commentary By Jimmy Dunn
Ancient Beauty Secrets By Judith Illes
Book Reviews Various Editors
Hotel Reviews By Jimmy Dunn & Juergen Stryjak
Kid's Corner By Margo Wayman
Cooking with Tour EgyptBy Mary K Radnich
The Month in Review By John Applegate
Egyptian ExhibitionsBy Staff
Egyptian View-Point By Adel Murad
Nightlife Various Editors
Egypt On Screen By Carolyn Patricia Scott
Restaurant Reviews Various Editors
Shopping Around By Juergen Stryjak
Web Reviews By Siri Bezdicek
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