Hi and welcome to my third brunch review, which this week takes you on a coffee journey around the globe. Cafe Frei is without a doubt the most international coffee shop I’ve ever visited. How so? Well, there are no less than 70 different coffees on offer here. Oh, and if coffee’s not your flava’ then there are plenty of loose-leaf teas to choose from.
Cafe Frei is actually a Hungarian chain of coffee shops which was established by Tamas Frei, a TV journalist who has visited over 130 countries in the last 20 years. His relentless passion for coffee combined with travel has resulted in hundreds of visits to both plantations and coffee shops around the globe.
Upon returning to Hungary, he decided to establish a cafe that offered coffee recipes from around the globe. This idea proved a success as the Cafe Frei franchise has taken off around the world. It’s exciting to know that this Cafe Frei is actually the first branch to open in the UK.
I met with the owner Zsuzsanna, who explained that the cafe is family-run. Aware of the success of Cafe Frei in her native Hungary, she was keen to bring this exceptional coffee concept to the UK. The coffee shop just opened in December, near Aldgate East and business is already booming, which is unsurprisingly really.
And on a separate note – have you guys visited that necks of the woods recently? Well, if not – GO! Aldgate has undergone a radical transformation. Three years ago, I struggled to find a coffee shop around there, let alone a decent one but those days are long gone. Hundreds of swanky apartments have been constructed which has brought new bars, restaurants and even a Curzon cinema to the area. So, it’s well worth a visit.
Anyways, I’m sure you want to know more about my around-the-world coffee experience at Cafe Frei. As soon as walked in, the staff greeted us with huge smiles and made us feel so welcome. And that was a taste of what lay ahead for us. Under Szuzsanna’s instructions – we were given more coffee and cake than I’ve ever tasted in one sitting. For over three hours, we learned about and tasted the most delicious coffee recipes and cakes; it was heaven!
The interior is bright, bold and inviting with little quirky touches that create a fun atmosphere.
Where to even start? The menu is huge!
As I already mentioned, the concept behind Cafe Frei is entirely unique. Where else are you invited to travel the world in “just one sip”?!
To provide such a range of coffee, Cafe Frei’ has a huge selection of unique coffee recipes. Seventy to be precise, ranging from Arabia to the Arctic via Europe, Japan and the US, with numerous flavours, including Kyoto plum cream, Maharajas’ tea-cappuccino, Cuban espresso-colada and Spanish cinnamon to name a few.
After much deliberation, it was time to order…
Just a selection of the delicious baked goods on offer
Italian Coffee Kitchen
Round 1: Espresso Limoncello
So apparently Italians often drink this delight after lunch instead of eating dessert. Emm, when can pocket this idea and pawn it off as our own because it’s amazing?! The espresso is served with a liberal dash of sweet lemon liquor which gives plenty of zing but won’t have you stumbling back to the office 🙂
Strictly speaking, this coffee should eliminate the need for a dessert but I’ve always been an advocate of lemon on lemon and so, we paired some delicious meringue cake with the espresso. Yum!
Arabic Coffee Kitchen
Round 2: Armenian Orange Coffee
In the Arab populated areas of Africa, they mostly grow coffee with spicy aromas which is then slow-roasted to sweetness. The coffees are further seasoned with spices and brewed into a drink, so it’s essentially spiced black coffee cooked in copper pots. At Cafe Frei, similar detail is given to the arabic coffee as it’s prepared over hot sand and in copper pots.
The level of detail in the preparation is incredible
The Armenian orange coffee tasted absolutely exceptional, it’s a rich brew that’s been naturally sweetened by orange and tasted SO good, that I challenge you to find a better sweet Arabic coffee in London…
This coffee was paired with Afgan poppy seed cake which tasted just as good as it looked.
Latino Coffee Kitchen
Round 3: Dakar Cortado
This exquisitely layered coffee reigns from Dakar Rally, Argentina and is believed to be the favourite of Buenos Aires taxi drivers. It’s short and sweet but gives enough kick to leave you feeling satisfied.
This coffee was paired along with a rose-petal chestnut sponge cake which was so light that it was demolished in seconds!
Japanese Coffee Kitchen
Round 4: Origami Cold-Drip Laboratory Coffee
In case you haven’t noticed – a quiet coffee revolution has been occurring in Japan – these nifty whizz kids have been designing sophisticated and elaborate devices that slow-drip coffee for hours on end creating intensive, unrivalled flavours. This is coffee for those who take coffee seriously.
At Cafe Frei, the cold-brew coffee is painstakingly prepared. The cold dissolution happens over five hours which results in a complex, almost tea-like drink that has a very high caffeine content.
The final result
It certainly packed a punch!
French Coffee Kitchen
Round 5: Viennesse Kaputziner
French coffees, in comparison to Italian are usually served sweet and made with milk / cream. This is counter-balanced by the light roast African coffee which typically has a citrus base.
I absolutely adore creamy coffee and seems I’m not alone, as this coffee is believed to be the favourite of the Monarchy. Even with the whipped cream, it’s quite a light coffee and best accompanied with a hot, fresh croissant. This is Sunday morning breakfast at it’s finest.
Italian Coffee Kitchen
Round 6: Espresso Italiano
By this stage, we were completely full of beans and so took a loooong break before finishing up with the classic espresso. This was served just the way Italians like it – brewed from slightly bitter coffee and with a few drops of cream on top to seal in the fragrance.
Paired with a deliciously gooey brownie, it was quite the treat to finish with.
And we’re done. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my globe-trotting coffee journey as much as I’ve enjoyed tasting coffee from around the world. This is an exceptional coffee concept that’s delivered to a very high standard. I can only encourage you to try it for yourself and I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
Thank you SO much Cafe Frei, this was a coffee-shop experience like no other! You’ve definitely got my “like”