Athens, Greece: my first morning in a new city. I awoke to the sights and sounds one would expect in a bustling city of nearly 4 million people. Athens is alive! It is vibrant. Ancient history and modern Greek culture meet in a hearty embrace. As I exited the hotel lobby, the foot traffic of commuters and tourists alike swept me away, as they wound their way through the arteries and veins that give the city its life. I was in town for the TBEX Europe 2014 conference. My goals for the morning were simple: 1. find a
good great cup of coffee 2. everything else. This was a special day. It marked precisely 14 years since my life had radically changed for the better, when I had married my partner in crime, and bona fide coffee aficionado, Jennifer. Alas, we were apart on that day, separated by a mere 1,000 km, but the distance was no match for modern technology. I quickly dialed her on my mobile phone.
“Happy anniversary! Hey, where was that great coffee bar I needed to try while I’m here?”
“Taf? Oh yeah, let me look it up…”
Thus ensued a great adventure in remote aural navigation. Go straight down this street, then turn right. Now duck down this small side street. It should be right there. Do you see it?
It turned out that I was much closer than I thought. The coffee fates had smiled upon me. Nestled in a comfortably quiet alcove down a side street just to the left of the Titania Hotel on Leoforos Eleftheriou Venizelou, a short walking distance from the Omonoia metro station, Taf Coffee beckons the denizens of Athens to disengage from other distractions and enjoy a respite. This is the edge of the bohemian Exarcheia district in downtown, historically famous for their unique cultural perspective. At Taf, life is savored one sip at a time.
Taf Barista Stefanos Domatiotis was named World Brewers Cup Champion for 2014. One can taste his expertise and passion in every cup. The company specializes in single estate, sustainable, direct relationship coffee, carefully researching and choosing the green beans at their source, remaining fully engaged from harvest, to roast, to cup. The result is a truly amazing coffee experience. Yes, it is an experience. From the first sip, I was aware of a soothing calm overtaking me. My senses were heightened. All was right in the world. I was thoroughly prepared for an enjoyable day.
I began with a macchiato – a real macchiato, mind you, not one of those abominable Starbucks concoctions! – made from their Rosebud Espresso Blend. It was divine: creamy, smooth, and balanced. The aroma of chocolate with hints of caramel and nutmeg played coy with my senses. The pièce de résistance were the notes of almond, apricot, cherry and tangerine that punctuated my palate. The latte art in the shape of a heart was also exquisite. It was almost a shame to drink it, as though my lips might profane the canvas on which it was painted, but I couldn’t resist!
Next, I sampled their Estate Espresso Blend, again as a macchiato. This was a darker roast, with a pleasant and invigorating bitterness reminiscent of bakers’ chocolate and cinnamon. I detected hints of pine in the aroma. It transported me to the deck of a mountainside resort on a brisk fall morning as I greeted a day pregnant with opportunity.
My only regret was that Jennifer, my coffee muse, was not there to share the moment with me. Thankfully, Taf offers bags of their most popular roasts for purchase, so devotees and newcomers alike can endeavor to replicate the experience at home. I brought home some Rosebud (clearly my favorite!) and Estate Blend for both my wife and a good friend. I also grabbed a bag of Single Estate Yirgacheffe 1 Warka Ehtiopia to try – sounds exotic, doesn’t it? In fact, as I write this, I’m enjoying a cup of freshly brewed Rosebud with my lovely muse. Life couldn’t be more perfect than right at this moment. Thank you, Taf, for introducing me to the experience.
Loc: Taf Coffee, 7 Emmanouil Mpenaki, Athens 106 78, Greece