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.