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Blown away by gourmet sandwich and good coffee at Freshly Ground.

FRESHLY Ground Coffee Shop in Sam Levy’s Village, not to be confused with the South African Afro-fusion band Freshly Ground that caused a hiatus in Zimbabwe with their puppet video and song Chicken for Change, is the place for a great cup of coffee. No longer satisfied with coffee mixtures containing large amounts of chicory, Zimbos look for the multi-layered flavours and aromas of high quality coffee beans, such as locally grown Arabica, and Robusta, grown in Vietnam and Uganda.

Egg in a Hole at Freshly Ground

Food and beverage manager Tina Nethersole, and her accomplished baristas, swear by @laluciec coffee beans to create the alchemy that attracts coffee lovers to Freshly Ground. Grown in the Chipinge district of the misty Eastern Highlands, La Lucie’s Arabica beans produce the sweet, soft taste with tones of sugar, fruit and berries that make it a favourite with coffee drinkers.

When it comes to eating out, Harare doesn’t have the most diverse of food cultures. Go out for breakfast or brunch, and the most exciting item on the menu is likely to be a full English breakfast. While a plate of well-cooked bacon and egg, sausage and tomatoes, hash browns, baked beans and mushrooms can be a beautiful thing, it can also become tedious. Especially when you hear about the exciting breakfast options foodies in food capitals around the world are tucking into. Consider thick, fluffy pancakes made with ricotta batter, stuffed with blueberries and drizzled with honey. Maybe mushrooms on toast, or Shakshuka eggs poached in tomato sauce with herbs and spices, served with pita bread. Hard boiled eggs enclosed in spicy sausage meat, crumbed and deep fried (known as Scotch eggs) are the supreme comfort food, while a Japanese breakfast of energising miso soup, grilled salmon, rice and pickles, eaten at the Arabella Sheraton in Cape Town some years ago, changed forever my notions of an ideal breakfast.

Tina at Freshly Ground has worked in restaurants in France, Italy and England, and has some exciting ideas about pairing good coffee with sophisticated breakfast and brunch food. She recently launched a new gourmet menu with healthy breakfast options and a gourmet sandwich selection, each one sounding equally delicious. Having seen an online ad for the new menu, George and I set off for Borrowdale in search of great coffee and friendly service.

Making an early start to Sam Levy’s Village, we found the terrace at Freshly Ground packed with upwardly mobile,trendy young wealth managers, shop keepers, and entrepreneurs. While waiting for a table to become available we sat down inside on comfortable arm chairs upholstered in brightly-coloured Zambia print fabric, admired the decor and checked out the muffins and pastries behind glass. Before long we were seated on the terrace, with a pleasant view of tall grasses and shrubs, beyond which the world and his wife were scurrying to supermarkets to buy groceries before the next price increase.

Orders at Freshly Ground are placed at the counter, and paid for in advance. If you frequent coffee shops, you’ll know that small, medium and large translate into short, tall and grande. There is also a 591 ml version called a venti. My tall latte (ZW$39.45) was good, and George’s tall hot chocolate (ZW$38.75) was ‘pretty good’.

Egg in a Hole at Freshly Ground

Egg in a Hole (ZW$55) from the gourmet sandwich menu came in the form of a fresh bagel, ingeniously layered with halloumi cheese, bacon and perfectly ripe slices of avocado. On top of the bagel rested a poached egg, garnished with a red nasturtium flower (edible?) and a purple viola. I ate it slowly, savouring every mouthful.

George was blown away by The Zimbo (ZW$75), a toasted ciabatta sandwich filled with strips of seared beef fillet, slices of mozarella cheese and citrus-infused onion marmalade.

If you love avo on toast (a healthy breakfast favoured by the Obamas when they were in the White House), choose Open Smashed Avo served on a slice of wholewheat bread, and garnished with cherry tomatoes.

Healthy breakfast options include a peanut butter and protein smoothie bowl, and a Berry Blast Chia smoothie bowl. The kiddies menu offers French toast with syrup, bacon and bananas, poached egg with toast soldiers, and mini Shepherd’s pie, with minced beef and mashed potatoes.

While Freshly Ground has branches in Msasa, at Halsted’s on Harare Drive, and at The Village Walk, the Borrowdale branch is currently the only one offering Tina’s gourmet menu. I’ll be back to try the Zimbo sandwich, and maybe one of the muffins, paired this time with largest cappuccino on the menu.   A Matter of Taste with Charlotte Malakoff

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