For all of this century’s modernity, some things don’t change — like the ancient medina of Marrakech. Frozen in time, this heaving labyrinth of winding alleyways and hidden courtyards is every bit as spice-scented, richly coloured, and ornately designed as it was centuries ago.
Somewhere ensconced in the beautifully hectic bustle is the Dar el Bacha palace, which was built in 1910 and once home of Pacha Thami El Glaoui who ruled over Marrakech. The original Bacha Coffee was founded here, and united the world’s most illustrious names like Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, and composer Maurice Ravel over gleaming pots of Arabica coffee.
After a 60-year hiatus, Bacha Coffee has opened its first international outpost in Singapore, a city seemingly so far removed from the locale of its original outlet. Yet, it is a welcome respite among the city’s numerous coffee shops and tea salons.While the majesty of its original palace surrounds is impossible to replicate in ION Orchard, the outlet is by no means short on lustre.
In both locations, the floors are covered in shiny black-and-white chequered tiles where velvet-covered wicker chairs in saffron and indigo stand. Large plants in ceramic pots fill the space decorated with chrome accents. The Singapore outlet also boasts of lattice walls coated in a Chefchaouen-inspired hue of cerulean.
Take your time with the coffee menu — there are 200 brews to choose from, divided across categories like single origin, fine blended, fine flavoured, and fine decaffeinated. All the coffee beans at Bacha Coffee are harvested directly from coffee planters, slow roasted over low temperatures then air cooled to preserve its taste. Brews are served in gilded gooseneck coffee pots with cracked vanilla bean, dollops of whipped cream and raw, granulated sugar on the side.
We started our leisure afternoon with the Ethiopia – Sidamo Mountain Coffee, a single origin brew that boasts an intense, slightly acidic, and full-bodied flavour that gives way to its more complex nuances, thanks to its floral and cracked cocoa bean notes. This is best enjoyed with Bacha Coffee’s raspberry and cinnamon croissant, which balances the sweet and tartness of the fruit perfectly with the aromatic spice. The Copacabana Coffee, on the other hand, combines South American and Oceanian beans. The flavour is one that hints of chocolate, hazelnut and malty overtones that go perfectly with the pistachio croissant, which is nicely bronzed, with the right amount of flakiness.
If you’re feeling peckish, we suggest you order the scrambled eggs with truffle for a decadent treat. Alternatively, fill up on Moroccan specialities, such as the barramundi tajine and chicken pastilla that hit the spot when eaten with the raisin chutney on the side. Go ahead and indulge that sweet tooth by dipping your fork into a dessert. Its preserved fruit and chocolate and cocoa bean cakes are served with coffee flower honey and Chantilly whipped cream.
If you want to re-create the experience at home, stop over by the retail section to pick up a beautifully packaged box of single-serve coffees or loose beans, or shop its exquisite coffeeware and tableware, including the sterling silver cups, used for serving water at your table, priced at $400 a pop.
All photos are courtesy of Bacha Coffee