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Eating Out

Coffee Time: North End Café

Tired of still not having tasted fresh coffee? Dying to find that right taste that has eluded Dhaka for so long? Then its time for a trip to the newly opened North End Café, the latest addition to Dhaka's burgeoning coffee culture.

Situated at Kha-47-1, Pragati Sharani, Shahzadpur, North Badda, the locality should not really be a cause for doubt. North End Café is 'the' experience when it comes to coffee and we'll tell you why.

North End Café serves fresh coffee, roasted right in the roasting area of the shop, the first of its kind in Bangladesh. The coffee beans arrive from all over the world, providing an extensive selection to choose from, such as from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Indonesia and Kenya, to name a few.

However, in addition to that, North End Café ensures that every blend of their coffee contains 20 percent local coffee beans gathered from Chittagong Hill Tracts. This in turn makes them the sole provider of local coffee and the perfect blend of traditional essence with a global feel is just what is required for arguably the best coffee experience.

Rick Hubbard, the Roaster and Barista of North End Café admits to being passionate about coffee but states that this is not the only driving factor behind North End Café; rather he sees it as a base to further augment the market for the company.

“I am not in the market as a competitor of the other coffee places, rather I want to help them if they need help.” Rick informs us. As a former manager of Starbucks Coffee with numerous certificates authenticating his expertise, Rick may indeed be the right man to inject the dynamism that the coffee sector in Bangladesh craves.

“North End Café serves as an example of how a coffee shop should be and our main business is as the first and only coffee roasters in Bangladesh.” Rick explains.

However, this should not deter customers from visiting North End Café. With a growing reputation among the expatriate community, the Café may just be three weeks old but it already has a regular clientele. And this is largely due to the delicious coffee experience that they deliver.

Unlike what's available elsewhere, North End Café serves drinks where the actual flavours of the latte, mocha or plain espresso aren't subdued by the heavy dosage of a creamy layer or too much milk.

The espresso, specifically, is the one where the real taste of the coffee is most prominent, fresh and powerful while the Mocha is tailored for those with a sweet tooth. Although North End Café tries its best to incorporate as much local ingredients and products as possible, they strive even harder to provide the best coffee experience.

Before we put off potential customers who must already be thinking about the prices, its apt to mention that the drinks are actually quite affordable starting from a mere Tk65 to less than Tk200. And while you sip your own cup of coffee you can actually see the coffee being roasted and the latte being dexterously prepared.

Complementing the coffee, Chris Hubbard, the pastry chef, has other mouth-watering dishes up her sleeve. The most famous and sought after are the cinnamon rolls, which continue to be sold out every day. This deserves a special mention because such a treat is very hard to come across elsewhere and the expertise with which it is executed cannot be described in words. Priced at a mere Tk110 each, calling it a scrumptious steal would be quite an understatement.

Apart from envisaging a momentous shift in the coffee landscape, North End Café also offers classes for coffee and pastry lovers such as Coffee Appreciation 101, Beginner Barista Training and Great Pastries at Home, conducted by Rick and his wife Chris. Rick's dedication to the coffee trade in general, especially his focus on training his staff so that they can one day start their own coffee shops, shows an unselfish determination and although he readily calls it a for-profit business, the added element of the social business model is very evident and worth lauding.

Head out right now and give it a try or wait for Saturday when the place really starts buzzing. Opening hours 7am-8pm and closed on Fridays.

By Osama Rahman
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed

Ls Editor's Note

Zen is prize enough

I am in a philosophical state of mind for the last couple of weeks; nothing seems to matter much for me anymore.

If my colleague misses a deadline, instead of the usual pounding that he deserves I search for other alternatives, like a dead article on which I sat for maybe 15 months now, I resurrect it and fill my space. I would never do this otherwise but recently I just don't feel the urgency to hit the panic button all the time.

I definitely try to understand when a 4 o'clock appointment runs behind schedule or a midday deadline is misunderstood as midnight, when working for the sports section is more fun than working for Lifestyle, when you feel like sleeping and not answering the call from your supervisor or simply other pressing issues like getting married or going for a toe nail operation or nurturing a red eye problem or the nicotine cravings.

Honestly I do understand, and now I also understand that it is not at all coincidental when all these incidents happen at the same time and only to me. I mean, it can happen right? Quoting from the movie Forrest Gump, “shit happens”. I am prepared to block these series of unfortunate events out.

My already frazzled patience has been tried to its limit and I guess I am now over the edge. And I like what I see over the edge, though; a calm, quiet emptiness. But I just don't want to blame those poor souls for my blank state of mind; it is strange but my mind is actually blank, anyway there are other catalysts at work too.

My darling child, whose finals are not knocking on the door anymore -- it is now sitting in the family lounge -- is totally disregarding the presence of the finals and still stuck to the television and computer. It's a battle I have miserably failed to win and in such desperate times going philosophical is the only thing to do. What happens if she can't make it to the next level? Honestly I don't know, at least she can run a small roadside grocery; I think she knows her basic math.

I don't have the heart to go into the details of how bad my relative felt when I answered her 6 am phone call in a groggy state of mind and told her that her son's wedding invitation could wait till 7 am or when my sweetheart of a housekeeper decides to take a three day casual leave because she needs a break. I am not going to talk about the chauffer or the gardener here; they are a totally different chapter if I am to write a book on my stillness.

But I really am not bugged by any of these, it is all part of everyday life and I should be able to take them in a happy stride. The fact that I have found my own Zen is prize enough.

I can now stare at my pigeons frolicking for hours and not be bored, I can smile when all goes wrong and still make it. Most importantly I now understand that life is finite, it can end any moment and then nothing will be of any meaning, so I try to take it easy and be happy as long as it lasts.

-- Raffat Binte Rashid

Check It Out

Dessert at your doorstep

Anahita Ahmed, a business lecturer at BRAC University and a young entrepreneur at heart has stepped into a territory very dear to all our hearts. DESSERTS!

She has introduced 'Des'ree Desserts' the first ever Bangladeshi online bakery. Living by the motto 'life is uncertain - hence always eat desserts first', Des'ree Daily Desserts is here to satiate all sweet cravings you can contemplate.

Des'ree is different, not only because of its choice of desserts but also because of its creator. “It initiated as a spark of rebellion against my mother who is a splendid baker but never wanted to teach me,” says Anahita, “She had the valid reason of my breaking the utensils and the irrational fear that I might poison my family in the process of learning to bake!”

“Once I started, however, I loved the boundless opportunity that baking allows. Baking became my passion, my emotional release, my creation of all that is positive in my world.” The rest as they say is history. Soon friends and family were drowning her with requests to bake a special something for a birthday or an anniversary or even Eid.

“A year ago I left for Sydney and people were constantly telling me from here how much they miss my desserts. I thought, 'Hmm if they are missing it, I must be good,' hence when I came back I decided to spread the joy of desserts to every sweet tooth that is starving for a special treat.”

So she set off to create a medium to reach 'all those sad, sweet-deprived souls' and went online. “Des'ree is not highly professional as some of the other bakeries in the city, but is rather homely,” Anahita declares proudly. “I won't promise you the perfect 4” by 4” brownies or lemon squares but I will promise you that everything I put into my creations is put there with utmost care and consideration and that there will be no compromise with taste.”

Des'ree goodies, as stated, are baked from the best ingredients, keeping it free from preservatives as much as possible. Handcrafted to order, Des'ree products are delivered fresh within hours of being baked to guarantee the delectable taste. Home-deliveries within Dhaka city are free of charge.

Des'ree's initial offerings are seven different types of Brownies - Original, Mocha, Berry, Peanut Butter, Death-by-Chocolate, Rocky Road, Cheesecake and Blondie. The brownies have a moist, fudgy texture and a luxuriously deep chocolate flavour. Served plain with a glass of cold milk or with a scoop of your favourite ice cream, these are simple and honest -- satisfying the most intense cravings.

It is just perfect for hostess gifts, corporate favours, housewarmings, bridal/baby showers, Eid/Christmas, birthdays, reunions, to say thank you or even to say sorry. If for none of the above, then just to send yourself a gift!

“Who am I looking to serve? Young professionals who don't have the time to bake but deserve the taste of homemade delicacies, those who never perfected the art of baking and require some inspiration from their taste buds and those who live for sweets and would die for that perfect dessert.” Whether you fit into these categories or not, Des'ree truly deserves a try-out. It's cheaper than the other outlets out there, it's tastier and it's made especially for you.

It creates your own dessert desire, “incorporating any 'special' requests you might have”.

By Raisaa Tashnova
Photo credit: Des'ree

(To contact Des'ree you can email desreedesserts@gmail.com with your details, time of delivery & address. Or call at 01754079229. All deliveries around Dhaka are free of charge. There are special offers available.)

Check It Out

Taste of Thailand

A ten-day Thai Food Festival titled 'Taste of Thailand' started at the 'Seasonal Taste' restaurant of the Westin Dhaka on April 20. This culinary extravaganza will continue till April 30.

The all day dining eatery of one of Dhaka's premiere hotels offers this delicious spread, focusing primarily on the authentic yet exciting new Thai creations. The rich and varied cuisine will be delivered by a group of Thai culinary experts. Also, there will be live culinary performances by the chefs, bringing the magic of Thai food preparation to the fore.

The food is hot and spicy, with strong and unique flavours, great aromas and a tremendous variety of ingredients.

For more information, please call 88029891988.



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