Though the repertoire of restaurants and cafes in Cairo are diverse, there's a distinct lack of all-you-can-eat diners. Situated in the pleasant Downtown Katameya Mall, Coffee Break aims to bring a hint of American culture to the city; along with its varied menu, open buffets for both breakfast (35LE) and lunch (65LE) are offered.

The venue is cosy and welcoming, offering sturdy seats and roomy tables both outdoors and in. Evidently a hot spot for brunch, the venue was jam-packed with local employees, and finding the start of the line transpired to be more of a challenge than it should have been. The buffet seemed to be disorganised, with no set direction for the traffic; needless to say it took longer than it should have to squeeze our way around.

Peering down at the buffet, we saw typical breakfast choices that seemed well-made and appealing. The plain scrambled eggs were most attractive, generously laid with sausage or shakshouka style – mixed with vegetables and spices. There was also an inviting display of the mandatory foul and taameya, as well as fresh green salads and tubs filled with different cheeses. On the sweeter side of things, pancakes, French toast and warm dates were surrounded by large larges of jam and honey, but sadly, no chocolate sauce. The shelf above the buffet was lined with an assortment of breads, cakes and pastries.

Unfortunately, many of the options on offer in the buffet were either finished or near-finished. It's an indication of the popularity of the dishes, but also the struggle of the kitchen in catering for a full house. Another inconvenience we faced was serving salad with spoons as opposed to tongs, which was particularly challenging in the case of leafy greens.

The herby scrambled eggs were fantastically tasty, with fresh vegetable cuts and just the right amount of salt; forking these with the flavourful fool and taameya proved to be a brilliant combination. Unfortunately, the French toast was undercooked, soggy and lacked cinnamon, while the pancakes were messy in appearance and decidedly average but went well with a dollop of black honey. The highlight of our breakfast was the warm, peeled, creamy dates, which sported a sweet caramel flavour. Although we would have liked a second helping, we noticed how this choice was scarcely available.

Orange juice is an essential component of any successful breakfast, but unfortunately the orange juice (10LE) here tasted artificial and had a strange bitterness, akin to local tap water. Upon asking the waiter, we were assured it was 100% natural but was made with summer oranges as opposed to the seasonal variety. After some hesitation, and a long wait, it was eventually replaced with another better, but still mediocre glass.

The Coffee Break experience was average at best, but is a good option for quick and affordable open buffets.