(Published in Cayman Airways Skies, January/February, 2011)
A growing coffee scene is alive and kicking in Cayman, and coffee lovers now have an abundance of cafes from which to get their daily caffeine fix.
Whether you prefer to leisurely enjoy a frothy cappuccino, or knock back an espresso to kick-start your day, the wide range of quality coffee beans now available in Cayman has helped a flourishing coffee culture emerge.
Here’s the low-down on where the best mochas, lattes, cappuccinos and espressos can be found.
Full of Beans
This chic and lively cafe located in Pasadora Place has become a favourite haunt for coffee lovers and artists alike. The cafe serves a popular Italian brand, illycaffè, produced by a 75-year-old company that’s rooted in a culture of quality and innovation. The coffee is made from nine Arabica beans, sourced from Central and South America, as well as across India and Africa.
Coffee connoisseurs can enjoy a wide range of options from lattes to cappuccinos, americanos, macchiatos and espressos, while soaking up the lively atmosphere. There is also a wide range of decadently flavoured sugar-free syrups for added punch. For a coffee with a twist, Full of Beans also serves a selection of creative coffee “cocktails,” which include an espresso Martini and a Bailey’s cappuccino. Particularly popular are the frappuccinos, a cool and flavourful pick-me-up when the heat of the day becomes too much.
Full of Beans is open for breakfast and lunch, with freshly baked croissants, muffins, salads, sandwiches and hearty soups available. Its monthly art exhibitions, which feature works by local artists, have also become a popular draw. The art exhibitions open the first Wednesday of each month, with a complimentary cocktail reception.
Black Trumpet Gourmet Delicatessen
Black Trumpet Gourmet Delicatessen is one of the latest cafes to join Cayman’s coffee offerings. Located in the upscale development of Camana Bay, Black Trumpet offers patrons a traditional European cafe.
The cafe serves Barnie’s Coffee, a gourmet coffee brand that sources its beans from sustainable farms. Freshly brewed coffee changes daily, and includes Costa Rican, Hawaiian, Ethiopian and Jamaican Blue Mountain. For those in search of something different, Black Trumpet’s flavoured coffees are a must, including cupcake, amaretto and a wickedly decadent dark chocolate.
Patrons can choose to sip on their favourite coffee in the comfortable lounge seating of the cafe, or, for a truly European feel, opt to go alfresco, overlooking the fountains on Camana Bay’s Paseo.
Black Trumpet is also becoming somewhat of a strong favourite with Cayman’s foodies. The gourmet delicatessen sells a selection of hard-to-find, mouth-watering gourmet items, including freshly baked artisan breads, international meats and cheeses, and fine wines. The cafe’s freshly prepared delicatessen-style sandwiches, gourmet salads and in-house baked pastries provide the perfect accompaniment for any coffee.
Located along the Seven Mile Beach strip, Icoa has become a favourite meeting spot with locals and visitors alike. Part restaurant, part delicatessen and with an adjoining store selling design-focused kitchen items from Gawk & Leer, Icoa is a great spot to while away an afternoon with friends, coffee in hand of course.
Icoa serves illycaffè coffee, which is prized for its full, rich body and smooth, balanced flavour. Illycaffè’s signature blend is 100 percent sustainably grown Arabica coffee, meticulously selected and freshness-packed to seal in its precious flavour.
Alongside the wide range of coffee offerings, the delicatessen serves a selection of freshly made savoury items and sweet delights for takeout. The restaurant, open for breakfast and lunch, is headed by a team of international chefs who have experience in Michelin-starred kitchens, ensuring gourmet cuisine, but at sensible prices.
The Brasserie Market
Located in George Town’s Cricket Square, The Brasserie Market opened last year and has become a huge hit with office workers, thanks to its concept of sourcing the freshest local ingredients from Cayman’s local farmers and its adjacent organic garden.
The Brasserie Market’s attention to sourcing only the finest quality coffee can be tasted in every sip. The Brasserie Market serves coffee from the Barrington Coffee Roasting Company, which is a small artisan company located in The Berkshires, New England. Ensuring a fresh supply, the company roasts to order and couriers it to Cayman, so patrons always enjoy their coffee at its peak, just a few days after roasting.
The Brasserie Market offers a rotating single origin coffee, both a featured coffee of the day as well as a decaffeinated, in addition to one-off coffees, such as the recently produced Cortado, an eight-ounce cup imitating coffee typically found in Latin America and made with sweetened condensed milk. A big hit at the Brasserie Market is the Milo Mocha, featuring a delicious chocolaty hint of Milo.
Further ensuring the quality of its coffee, the Brasserie Market uses top-of-the-line equipment, including grinders to grind the beans to perfect extraction, as well as a La Marzocco coffee maker from Florence, Italy.
Open for breakfast and lunch, the custom-made salads are a particular must, as well as the freshly made daily special, which includes local dishes such as curry goat, ackee and codfish, and salt beef. European style sandwiches and an assortment of fresh cupcakes and cookies ensure there’s plenty to enjoy your coffee with.
Café del Sol
Café del Sol is firmly established in Cayman’s coffee scene. Its first store opened in 2002 at the Marquee Plaza. It has now added a further three cafes, at Fort Street in George Town, at the Bayshore Mall and at Camana Bay, which adjoins the bookstore Books & Books.
The cafe serves more than a dozen specialty blends and features four different brewed coffee drinks on a daily basis. Coffee lovers can enjoy their daily fix with a wide range of freshly made pastries, delicious cakes and baked goods.
A particular draw of Café del Sol is its free Internet use at all its locations; both the Marquee and Camana Bay locations have computer workstations for customers who don’t have their own computers. The home-away-from-home lounge areas can be reserved for larger groups that want to hold meetings in comfortable surroundings.
The Art of Cupping
Cupping is the coffee equivalent of wine tasting for coffee connoisseurs. The fragrance, aroma, flavour, body and aftertaste are all examined during the cupping procedure to garner a full understanding of the coffee’s profile.
Cupping was originally used to detect imperfections in coffee beans. Today, coffee lovers attend cupping events to enjoy, taste and better understand the complexities of different coffees from around the world, as well as meet fellow coffee enthusiasts.
A variety of coffees are tasted side by side during a cupping event. First, the coffee beans are examined. Boiling water is then added to each cup of the coffee grounds and after a few minutes the crust is broken, allowing cuppers to determine the aroma of the coffee.
Next the coffee is tasted to evaluate its flavour. This is done by slurping the coffee from a specially designed cupping spoon. Slurping the coffee allows all the flavours to be more easily detected by aspirating it over the entire tongue.
Following this the aftertaste is recorded. Cuppers then share their descriptors of the coffee at each stage of the cupping event. There are no right or wrong answers during a cupping event, just a shared enjoyment and love of coffee itself.