L’Aroma: Homey, Little Coffee Jewel
While we Egyptians love our coffee, one thing we don’t love is the noise that often accompanies nearly every café in Cairo. What is with the ringing mobiles and laptops blaring loud videos?
Egyptian-owned L’Aroma’s coffee chain has locations in nearly every neighbourhood in Cairo, but their pleasant little café on Salah El Din Street in Zamalek might quite possibly be the area’s best-kept coffee secret. Its entrance is noted by an arched sign that leads you down a garden path, which is offset from the street and tucked between residential buildings.
Inside, the noise of the espresso machine grinding away and the low bluesy tunes coming from the speakers soothe you to work or into a lovely conversation in a matter of no time. The decor is minimal yet modern with their beaded alabaster lighting, and the seating is quite cosy with antique cushioned chairs and couches that are great for a lazy cup of Joe. Seeing as the café is rather tiny, the service has no reason to not be excellent. While they’re attentive, they give you space to do your own thing.
The menu has something to satisfy nearly everyone, with a range of simple food and drink options. Soups (12LE to 15LE), salads (12LE to 27LE) and pastas (25LE to 39LE), are available, as are sandwiches and wraps (19LE to 30LE). The Asian chicken wrap did the trick for us; for 22.50LE, the wrap came with a side of crispy chips served alongside fresh lettuce, tomatoes, crunchy sesame seeds and green onions topped with an appropriate amount of soy sauce.
A slew of desserts are also available, ranging from carrot cake (12LE), which is always soft and topped with a tasty cream-cheese icing, to a Twix tarte (14.50LE).
Standard coffee and tea options are available, along with a few unique flavours that most coffee places lack, including toffee nut, Irish crème and mint. While our toffee nut ‘freddoccino’ (how close can you get when knocking off the frappuccino trademark?) was tasty and refreshing, albeit standard; its 21LE-price tag seemed a bit hefty.
A standard cup of coffee will run you around 12LE and they definitely don’t skimp on a hearty cup. For 12.25LE, a double espresso macchiato is served with a smiling bunny, or some similarly friendly design gracing the foam and although lacking a bit of that robust gusto, it definitely did the job.