Sunday, June 18, 2006

World Coffees in Taipei

One inevitable refuge for residents of Taipei and tourists alike is the Kaldi coffee shop located within walking distance of Taipei 101. The name, Kaldi, comes from a legend about an Ethiopian goatherd who is believed to have discovered the coffee plant. With a beautiful, simple yet refined dark-wooden interior, large windows all round that bathe the interior in natural light, and soft, jazzy music playing in the background, Kaldi is the perfect spot to enjoy coffees from all over the world or, if you are otherwise inclined, a good selection of teas, waffles, and brownies. It is the perfect nook in which to drop everything and sit down to read a good book or do some writing. As the world below and outside the window goes a-bustle, inside Kaldi one finds himself in another, much calmer space. Containing no more than ten tables or so, it generously offers the intimacy that one simply cannot find in the larger chains like Starbucks or Dante’s. Sitting down for a coffee at Kaldi is an experience in and of itself, one that elevates all your senses. One doesn’t visit it for an on-the-go coffee, either. Rather, going to Kaldi is an event, and customers had well prepare themselves to spend at least an hour there.

From Brazil to Sumatra, Yemen to Blue Mountain, you can always expect the fresh aromas to titillate your taste buds. The coffees are rich, strong, and offer a pithy taste that will leave no connoisseur indifferent. Furthermore, as anyone who’s had coffee will know, rare are the coffees that do not leave an undesirable aftertaste; Kaldi’s are indisputably from that hard-to-find, pleasant breed.

The owner of the Kaldi chain (there are, I believe, three stores altogether) imports and roasts his own coffee beans, while his daughter manages the store about which I am writing here (and where the photographs were taken). The familiar and ever-friendly staff is very welcoming and will never fail to engage in friendly chit-chat, without ever lapsing into undue intrusiveness. And non-Mandarin-speakers need not worry, as the manager, having studied in New York City, speaks it perfectly well (her staff is learning it, too, at the very capable hands, if I may say so, of someone who happens to be very close to my heart).

In many ways, Kaldi has all the elements to make this special place a bit of a home away from home. For anyone who happens to be in Taipei and wants to look me up, a safe assumption would be that I’m at Kaldi’s absorbed in a book, with a delicious coffee fuming on the table before me.


wildnutsintaipei said...

Their waffles smell oh-so-good!

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