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Mohandiseen, Cairo, Egypt.
Marsh Café: Juicy Ground
Hot and crowded summers in Cairo have us begging for a reprieve. A clean, friendly place to take a break from it all – preferably with air-conditioning – is all we ask. Ahmed Orabi Street in Mohandassin happens to hold just such a such a place. Specializing in juice and shisha, this café offers the perfect summer sanctuary.
There used to be a running joke that Marsh Café was named for the small plot of saturated land adjacent to the kitchen. Despite being a bit of an eye sore, it never prevented the café from enjoying a steady patronage of regulars. Management must have realised that the café would do well with a bit of a face-lift however, because our most recent visit found us in a slightly unfamiliar setting. Thankfully, the drinks and service were just as they have always been: beyond satisfactory.
The refurbished outdoor seating is shielded from the sun and the dust from Ahmed Orabi Street by deep red cloth. The smell of sweet shisha fills the senses, while smartly placed fans keep the air from going smoky and stale. The inside seating area is a bit of a trade-off: shisha is forbidden, but patrons do get to enjoy a robust air-conditioning system and comfortably cushioned whicker furniture. The red motif is seen throughout the café, accented by light beige walls for a rich yet bright interior.
Sadly, the food at Marsh Café is forgettable. The menu is extensive and humorously translated into English, but sish tawouk and shawerma sandwiches simply needn’t cost 20LE. The coffee selection is wide, including everything from Turkish coffee (8LE) to Nescafe (10LE) to lattes (12LE) and specialty coffees. The real reason for visiting Marsh Café however is its extensive juice selection. For a flat rate of 10LE, Marsh’s fresh juices plant the seeds of sweet summer escapism in its diners. All of the expected flavours are available, but for those getting tired of the usual mango and strawberry nectar, apricot, plum, prickly pear, grape, and so many more fruits are squeezed to perfection at Marsh. Pair a juice with an equally sweet shisha (8LE) and slip away into a sweet summer dream.
Nearly as impressive as the juice is Marsh Café’s service. Not only was the staff timely in delivering our order and check, but they were attentive and informed to boot. We were checked on several times during our short stay and a waiter even took more than a few minutes to explain the many creative juice concoctions on the menu. Such service with a smile definitely left us wanting more Marsh.
Coffee, Java, Joe – no matter what you call it, we can all agree that a cup of it can make or break your day. Coffee houses like Starbucks and Costa have been on the top of the coffee game with a branch on almost every corner, and people have been flocking there for their coffee every time; but now there’s a new player in town.
Turkey-based coffee house, Espresso Lab, has arrived to Egypt, at Point 90 Mall New Cairo to be exact, offering you the unique opportunity to play mad scientist in creating the ideal coffee for you.
With a rustic, industrial aesthetic, Espresso Lab offers a relaxing and inviting environment with mostly wooden seats besides giving off a friendly vibe, it’s a great place for studying, working, or just lounging around drinking your cup of Joe.
The venue is of the self-service variety, where there are two bars each with their own set of features; the first has your typical large espresso machine, with an assortment of both savoury and sweet items and some cold drinks, while the other is where the ‘lab’ part comes in.
We picked up one of their signature cold brew coffee (30LE) from the main bar, which came in a small glass bottle reminiscent of a glass whiskey flask; the coffee itself was pure concentrated coffee devoid of any additions which had a strong flavour and a slightly acidic aftertaste.
For something from the other side of the spectrum, we had some hazelnut hot chocolate (32LE), which had a sweet, rich texture with a good amount of foam on top, and hazelnut providing a nutty aftertaste.
Looking into their assortment of sandwiches, we opted for the roast beef (35LE). Heated in a toaster oven, it had warm crunchy bread that contrasted with the melted gooey cheese in the middle perfectly, which in turn complemented the earthy roast beef slices and the addition of the tangy pickles and mayonnaise.
To satisfy our sweet tooth, we ordered the chocolate (40LE) and raspberry (40LE) cheesecakes; despite the rather small slices, they both had a rich heavy texture, which made them well worth the price. The chocolate had a creamy, smooth taste, while the raspberry had a slightly tangy aftertaste that complimented the coffee flavoured crust on both of them.
We then moved to the espresso bar, where you can choose one of six different coffee beans – to be made in one of six different ways, including everything from French press and Chemex, to Aeropress and cold brew. The options allow you to adjust everything from the sweetness to the acidity of your coffee and we went for the Syphon (27LE).
With a smooth texture without the strong aftertaste, the coffee had a nice sweetness to it without being too watered down; we opted for some Irish syrup as well as some steamed milk to turn it into a latte which only enhanced the beverage even more.
Espresso Lab provides one of the most unique customisable coffee experiences you can find in the capital; as well as being great place for to grab a quick coffee and bite to eat, it’s also place where coffee snobbery is more than welcome!