Coffee & Fandisha

A miniature Jebena, the traditional Ethiopian coffee pot, on a table at Liverpool's Coffee & FandishaI must confess, the tag line “where coffee meets popcorn” didn’t initially inspire me. Really? Coffee and popcorn? However, Coffee & Fandisha came highly recommended, and, since I’d made the journey to Liverpool’s Baltic triangle (admittedly only a 15-minute walk from the centre), I thought I’d better go in…

So, what is Coffee & Fandisha? The clue’s in the name, “Fandisha” being Ethiopian for popcorn. It transpires that popcorn’s a traditional element in the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, consumed while waiting for the coffee to stop you getting hungry. Hence, Coffee & Fandisha, “where coffee meets popcorn”.

Coffee & Fandisha’s an interesting mix of Ethiopian tradition, modern third-wave coffee and old-fashioned Liverpudlian hospitality. Occupying a single-storey, open-plan brick building, Coffee & Fandisha’s a cosy, welcoming place. There’s a bespoke blend of Ethiopian coffee on espresso, roasted by London’s Ethiopian Coffee Company and served, naturally enough, with complimentary popcorn.

If you don’t fancy espresso, there’s a single-origin filter (V60/Chemex), the roaster rotating between Neighbourhood Coffee, Casa Espresso or Nude Espresso. There’s also loose-leaf tea, Kokoa Collection hot chocolate, wines and spirits, while if you’re hungry, you can choose from the breakfast, brunch and lunch menus, or feast on the decent cake selection.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Coffee & Fandisha in Liverpool's Baltic Triangle on the appropriately-named Brick Street.
  • 'Where Coffee Meets Popcorn' says the door... Where coffee meets what?
  • In case you're wondering if you've come to the right place, the window reassures you...
  • ... as does the sign that hangs off the wall.
  • Of course, if I'd approached it from the left, the wall would also have been a give-away.
  • The door is slightly offset to the right, and this is the view looking to the left as you enter...
  • ... while the right, there's more seating...
  • ... which extends around the corner past the counter.
  • On this side, the seating is all tables.
  • I particularly like this cosy corner by the window.
  • Another view of the cosy corner.
  • I liked the cushions on the bench, some upholstered with old coffee sacks.
  • There are more tables off to the left.
  • However, there are also other options, including these two stools by the brick-built counter...
  • ... and this window-bar.
  • The view out of the window from the window-bar.
  • Although the corner's not so cosy, this bench mirrors the one on the other side.
  • Coffee & Fandisha, by the way, is a haven for the light-bulb lover.
  • I gave up counting how many there were when I ran out of fingers and toes...
  • And these are just the ones hanging above the counter.
  • Last shot, I promise.
  • Well, maybe not the last shot.
  • They all hang from this beautiful, high, open roof.
  • Away from the counter, there are these beauties. There's one on each side of the room.
  • I hope they're securely fastened though. It's not something I want dropping on my head!
  • More lighting comes in the shape of angle-poise lamps along the right-hand wall...
  • ... although these are more there to illuminate the pictures on the walls.
  • See what I mean?
  • This, by the way, is a mobile popcorn maker/stand. Appropriate, really.
  • The Jebena, the traditional Ethiopian coffee pot, also features heavily...
  • ... and can be found on all the tables (although not, sadly, containing coffee).
  • Nice choice of reading material.
  • Talking of reading material, there's quite a bit posted on the walls: this is the origin of coffee.
  • Meanwhile, this explains the long association of coffee with popcorn in Ethiopia.
  • Talking of which, there's free popcorn to be had. Take a bowl, help yourself.
  • Down to business. The counter greets you as you come in.
  • You order down here on the left, which is also where the coffee is made...
  • ... and where the cakes wait to ambush the unsuspecting.
  • The selection isn't huge, but it's interesting: cranberry drizzle, anyone?
  • How about pecan nut brownies or a solitary citron tart?
  • There's more further along the counter: shortbread and granola squares...
  • ... and there's even a sticky toffee tea cake.
  • Talking of sweet things, these guys are still stalking me wherever I go.
  • The menus are all at the right-hand end of the counter (which hides the kitchen).
  • There's a quick explanation of fandisha...
  • ... and details of the coffee on offer.
  • The main drinks menu...
  • ...  with breakfast, brunch and lunch below.
  • I tried the Ful Medames, an Ethiopian speciality.
  • It was so good it's worth a second look!
  • And, of course, there had to be coffee. And fandisha (sweet, left; savoury, right).
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Coffee & Fandisha, which opened in late 2014, occupies a small but outstandingly beautiful brick-built building, open to its A-frame roof high above you. Standing outside though, it looks fairly plain. There’s an inset entry-way in the centre, with the door on the right and two similar-sized glass panels to the centre/left. There are two small windows to the left and right, with two larger windows (with excellent views of Liverpool Cathedral) in the left-hand wall, making the interior pretty bright. It’s also very well-lit, a huge array of light-bulbs hanging down above the counter.

The counter, by the way, is a magnificent, brick-built affair, which blends in with the bare-brick walls and concrete floor. Occupying most of back wall, the cake and espresso-machine are on the left, while to the right, the kitchen hides behind a screen. The counter ends three-quarters of the way along the wall, leaving space on the right for a six-person table. The wall on this side, which has no windows, is a deep, warm yellow, lit by angle-poise lamps, which illuminate a series of photos. The wall behind the counter is painted white, as is the ceiling.

As well as the aforementioned table, there are four two-person tables to the right of the door, with another six-person table immediately to the left of the door. Beyond this, in a pleasing display of symmetry, are another set of four two-person tables. You can also sit at a window-bar on the left or on one of two bar stools at the counter.

I was fascinated by the Ful Medames, a traditional Ethiopian dish of spiced beans with egg, tomatoes and feta, served with warm pita bread. It was on the brunch menu, but, since I’d arrived at 2 o’clock, it had all gone. However, I must have looked really disappointed because a special batch was made just for me! I received a large bowl of lightly spiced beans, mixed with sliced, boiled egg and tomatoes, topped with feta, a warm pita bread on the side. It was very tasty and extremely filling, the perfect late lunch.

By this time I was ready for coffee and tried the house-espresso, a mix of Ethiopian Konga and Yirgacheffe. An interesting blend, it wasn’t quite to my taste, but evolved with each sip, starting and ending well-balanced (sips one and four), while for sips two and three, the fruitiness really came through, particularly in sip three, when it really was quite punchy.

Naturally, I had to try to some popcorn, which is available on the side by the water. Just grab a bowl and help yourself. It comes in sweet and savoury varieties and I tried both. Unfortunately, I’ve never liked popcorn, finding it rather insubstantial. My American friends tell me this is because I’ve never had proper popcorn and on this basis, my quest continues since the Fandisha lived down to my preconceptions. However, no-one’s forcing you to have popcorn with your coffee and, as such, it’s a nice touch which in no way distracts from the otherwise excellent experience. Plus, if you actually like popcorn, you’ll probably love it.

To compensate, I had a slice of the cranberry drizzle cake, which was, in contrast, amazing: sweet, but not sickly, a glorious cake, with a rich, fruity topping.

December 2016: Coffee & Fandisha was a runner-up for the 2016 Coffee Spot Award for Best Lighting.

5 BRICK STREET • LIVERPOOL • L1 0BL
www.coffeefandisha.com +44 (0) 151 708 6492
Monday 09:00 – 18:00 Roaster Ethiopian Coffee Company (espresso) + Guest (filter)
Tuesday 09:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Bar
Wednesday 09:00 – 18:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 09:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 09:00 – 18:00 Cards Amex, Visa, Mastercard
Saturday 09:30 – 15:30 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday CLOSED Power Yes
Chain No Visits 14th December 2015

If you liked this Coffee Spot, then check out the rest of Liverpool’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Liverpool.


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