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Zimbabweans Developing a Taste for Exceptional Coffee.

Elegant styling at The Fridge.

IS Zimbabwe becoming a nation of coffee drinkers? Every so often a new coffee shop opens, giving aficionados yet another cafe to stop off at while en route to work. What better fix before starting the day than an espresso, a flat white (espresso with a velvety shot of steamed milk), or a cappuccino?

For over a decade following the land invasions in 2000 and the exodus of hundreds of coffee farmers, we comforted ourselves with a cup of Tanganda tea, a mug of Rooibos or a swig of moringa tea. But following recent inputs from Nestle Nespresso with assistance to hundreds of small scale coffee farmers, Zimbabwe is experiencing a renaissance in coffee production and developing a taste for exceptional coffee.

The latest coffee shop to open in my hood is called The Fridge, sharing space with The Bloom Room, a floristry, at 63 Ridgeway North in Highlands. Also to be found at this address is Highlands House, an upmarket boutique lodge.

The Fridge opened at the beginning of August, and is already popular with a varied clientele. Trained baristas are on hand to make your favourite coffee, and if you prefer tea, choose Tanganda, or your preferred blend or infusion from a Twinings wooden tea box. According to our waiter, the feel-good summer infusion of strawberry tea is currently in high demand.

Lunch time snack with a caffe latte at The Fridge.

Last week a fellow foodie and I dropped in to The Fridge for a lunch time snack and a cup of coffee. From a limited selection ( more choice after the official opening on 1 September) I asked for a toasted cheese and tomato bagel, with a ‘healthy’ salad of finely shredded cabbage, rocket, cucumber and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds. The bagel was fresh and well made, the salad crisp and dressed with a tasty vinaigrette. My companion was content with his toasted chicken and mayo sandwich, although I thought the slices of bread looked rather thin. My guest’s filter coffee (lovely locally grown La Lucie coffee) was served in a generous-sized mug. My caffe latte could have been served hotter, but it was full of flavour and presented attractively in a latte glass on a white platter. We decided to give the fruit scones and an attractive-looking semolina cake a miss until another visit, and our combined bill came to ZW$140.

When power cuts are making food preparation in your kitchen difficult, take home some of The Fridge’s pre-packed frozen foods. Choose from chicken schnitzel, honey and soy chicken wings, lasagne, and popular Italian meatballs. Don’t miss the Harvest Table buffet starting in September. Meal choices will change daily, and charges will depend on the weight of your plate.

While you drink your coffee, Amy Capsopoulos @amycaps in the Bloom Room, will make up a bouquet of fresh flowers of your choice. Buy your own roses, sun flowers, greenery and sweet-smelling winter annuals to take home to arrange yourself, or invest in a potted phalaenopsis flowering orchid to give you months of pleasure.

Restaurateurs understand the importance of training their baristas, and buying the best coffee beans available. Arabica, the world’s favourite coffee, grows well in Zimbabwe. 70 year old David Muganyura in the Honde Valley is one of 400 smallholder farmers returning to coffee growing, encouraged by the global demand for coffee and the growing number of coffee connoisseurs in Zimbabwe.

This year, Nespresso @nespresso bought up 20 tons of Zimbabwe’s highest quality coffee and introduced a limited edition of high quality Arabica called Tamuka mu Zimbabwe (We have awakened in Zimbabwe). Launched in 16 different countries, it sold out in three weeks. It’s only a matter of time before Zimbabwe regains its reputation for growing some of the best coffee in Africa. A Matter of Taste with Charlotte Malakoff

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