It is mid morning and I have been dropped by my parents at a little coffee shop in the middle of Butare. The shop is barely decorated. An almost rusty hulk of a coffee roaster stands grandly, taking up the whole left side of the square room.
The walls on either side of the shop are painted a grass green. The uneven walls are frosted with brown cinnamon dust. The sky blue floor has bits and pieces pealing off, which reveals the grey cement underneath. The ceiling is a mustard yellow. The walls are simply decorated with three African masks here, a map of Rwanda there, and a framed poster named “The Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel”. It describes the various coffee adjectives used to depict the flavors and aromas of coffee. Dirt, Roasted, Earthy...
In the middle of it all, there is a little counter. With a little barista. With a little, but twinkling smile.
The frankness and emptiness is filled with the rich, deep aroma of roasted coffee beans, refreshed every time the coffee beans are ground.
The entrance side of the shop is where the sofas are placed. Three sofas: two one seater, one three seater. There are water buffalos and Masai and elephants printed on it. In fact, I seem to be sitting on top of two Maasai with their long sticks. Glad they are merely a print... I’m sure sitting on Maasai is less then comfortable, especially with their spears. The sofas all surround a low table covered with a leopard print cloth. This would all look like a frenzy of pattern and color if it were not for the over all coffee brown of the place.
On the low table is a big note book. A hard cover. Worn out. It’s the same as the ones I used to use in junior high. The edges are red, from all the fingers covered with the red soil that must have flicked through the pages. Inside are happy words from people all over the world. “Hello from Australia” - Caleb, “Classic Coffee!” - TAC,Nigeria, “Keep up the sweet beans!” - Santa Cruz. “ありがとう, murakoze cyane.” - Yasu.
As the day progresses the street a few steps below starts to come alive. The smooth groan of the car engines are joined with the chuckle chuckle of the pikis, all in time with the blaring radio from the store next door.
5 to 11, I notice only now that the Quran, sung over crackling speakers a hill or two away has stopped. I’ve already consumed 3 cups of rich coffee. My head is buzzing. The colors of the shop seem a little brighter. Maybe I should go out for lunch.
I like this place. This little store, with no excess decorations, no fancy caffe latte designs, and no wifi. It’s a coffee shop made for the coffee it sells.