Monthly Archives: February 2016

Sweet Mumma’s Kitchen




Aberdeen might be going through the biggest economic crisis in decades, but that’s not stopping the coffee shops – it seems there’s a new one popping up every month!

In fact, it’s probably me not going out much and then discovering all these new places months after they opened their doors. That was the case with Sweet Mumma’s Kitchen, who opened in November last year.

Some wise words outside Sweet Mumma's

Some wise words outside Sweet Mumma’s

To my defence, the location of this coffee shop is a rather specific one, and would not be on everyone’s radar – unless you’re a fish merchant or work for one of the oil companies headquartered in the Enterprise Business Centre. The Arches do house a wide variety of weird and wonderful shops and venues (including Breakout Games, which I certainly would like to visit); but seeing the A-frame outside Mumma’s on my way to the fishmongers took me completely by surprise. I hesitated at first, and took a long look at the entrance before resuming my fish mission; but once that was complete (and double wrapped in plastic bags), I took the same route back and made a calculated detour for lunch.

My amazement of this place continued after stepping through the door – the mystical narrow wooden corridor led to another set of doors, opening up onto the cafe area: a huge empty space between the entrance and the minimalistic counter, with pretty much all the lunch options on display, alongside the sweet pieces. Then there was the seating, alongside the left wall, boasting quite a few tables of 2s and 4s – and quite a few of them taken at the time of my arrival, and more just after.

Despite the empty space, the place felt warm and welcoming, and the minimalistic decor was right up my street. The smiley assistant that had just finished serving a table presented me with the day’s food choices (as per the food counter) and invited me to take a seat once I decided to go for the salmon bagel. She was back with me at the table, serving a large vase (yes, vase) of water, and a small glass, to find out if I wanted anything else with the sandwich – a mocha, was my reply, naturally.

Salmon bagel lunch at Sweet Mumma's

Salmon bagel lunch at Sweet Mumma’s

I could not fault the “sit in” option on the food, as my bagel was presented with a salad and a wee cup of soup of the day for starters – a perfect lunch package. As the coffee arrived soon after, and looked rather substantial, I decided to take half of the sandwich away, with which I was assisted by another member of personnel, who – judging by the blue stripy apron – struck me as one of the chefs. The staff seemed to be appearing out of nowhere, in fact, as by the time I was finished I registered five different faces…

Mocha at Sweet Mumma's Kitchen

Mocha at Sweet Mumma’s Kitchen

As for the coffee, I did not know what to expect judging by the appearances alone – it looked rich with coffee, but lacked a bit of latte art finesse – which was not the ultimate denominator for a perfect cuppa anyway. I took a sip, then another… then interlaced it with some water to clear the tastebuds… Still nothing – I did not taste any caffeine in it whatsoever.

Not being the particularly fussy type, I did not bother anyone about this (and seeing I had already asked for help with my sandwich), but the question “Is there any coffee in this?” would not stop bothering me. As a hot cocoa on its own, the drink would have been very nice – sweet and punchy (in a chocolatey sense), and very drinkable; but this one by no means tasted of coffee… I did feel a bit of a head rush when I was paying my bill at the counter, but I fear that might have simply been the intense cocoa injection.

I say “I fear” because I really wanted to score this place highly for the overall experience, and the genuine top-notch customer service; I also thought I should maybe refrain from grading it at all until I had a second shot at it. But cafe reviewer or not, first impressions do count – and whether it was, indeed, a misplaced espresso or simply too small a dose of it in the coffee, my first mocha at Sweet Mumma’s just lacked the punch to score it top marks.

Mocha: £3.00

Verdict justification: Lovely venue with very attentive staff… but the coffee lacked caffeine in it (to my taste anyway)!

Categories: Cafes, Hidden, Local | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Cat in the Window Cafe

I am bound to be a self-fulfilling prophecy in the eyes of those friends who portray the future-me as a crazy cat lady… but I could imagine no better way of spending a lonely Valentine’s Day, than drinking coffee in the company of felines.

The opportunity to combine my two passions on the international day of love was that much more tempting, because the long awaited The Cat in the Window Cafe had only officially opened the day before. The venue was already close to my heart, as I had supported the crowdfunding initiative that eventually brought this place to life – which was obviously a sign that the crowds were in need of such a furry establishment.

Or were they? I think there are two types of people in the world: those that cannot get round the idea of eating in one room with a bunch of cats; and those that do not require any convincing that this is a little piece of heaven on Earth – however, I also think that among both types there will be curious minds wanting to know what the whole thing is really about.

Inside the cafe

Inside the cafe

Because I had contributed to the cause, I was kept updated on the developments by mail and email, which also included a voucher for entry, cake and coffee – but that’s where my understanding of the whole concept ended. My voucher encouraged me to reserve my slot online, which I dully did, snapping up the last remaining bookable entry on the Sunday, 14 February – the cafe’s second day in business.

That done, I had a wee browse of the website, and found the intriguing Ts and Cs – and I knew this would be a truly one-of-a-kind coffee shop visit.

Upon my arrival at the designated time – no later, so as to not lose my spot to a walk-in visitor, only admitted per availability – there was already a wee queue at the door, which was locked and guarded from the inside by a member of staff. A few minutes later, the door opened, letting out a customer who had obviously completed their feline experience, and letting the waiting folk in – or at least those who had a reservation. Inside, the door was locked again, a register taken and we were asked to take our coats off… as well as our shoes. This was one of the safety measures for the kitties, to protect them from any parasites brought in from the outside.

Mocha at The Cat in the Window Cafe

Mocha at The Cat in the Window Cafe

The other behaviour rules were not to leave the “play room” without assistance, not to shout or run about and not to feed or pick up the cats – for a less understanding customer this could have resembled a kindergarten, but for a feline enthusiast, it all made sense. Then, the inner door was opened, an our cat hour commenced.

First impressions of the cafe were great: lovely warm and fluffy decor, with puff seats, tree trunk tables and even a suspended chair, which I eagerly took for myself, seeing that all the other visitors came in pairs or groups. In fact, as I sat there, feet and all in the air, and looked around the place, I was struck by the demographic in the room: all late teens/early 20s, ordering hot chocolates and teas, all there for the sole purpose of hanging out with cats. On Valentine’s…!

Some of the cats are less interested in play than others

Some of the cats are less interested in play than others

But where were the cats? Since I wasn’t the first through the door, I didn’t actually get the best pick of seats, so the two sofas that had a few of the feline residents sleeping on them were already occupied when I moved onto my chair. Only a wee black creature – Drago – was within my reach, albeit also sleeping, high on a wooden climbing wall.

For the first quarter of an hour not much happened, and I fretted the whole thing would end up being a massive disappointment. In that time, everyone’s order for coffee and/or cake was taken, after which the items begun to arrive, one by one. Either because of the late hour, or early days of the business, there were only strawberry muffins and Bayleys cupcakes available, but the choice of brews seemed to be more than substantial, with everyone’s drink needs met on first ask.

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Just as the rest of the decor, the coffee mugs were perfectly suited for the venue. Since I was treating myself that night, I went for a whipped cream with my mocha, so could not tell if there was any latte art involved – and, naturally, the taste was also affected. So, from sweet and creamy, to punchy and mellow – albeit not the top of the pops, the brew was still very enjoyable, and just hit the spot – thankfully, it was not too overwhelming and complimented my cupcake perfectly.

In the meantime, the cats begun to come out their hide – firstly spurred on by one of the toys, available for anyone to pick up from a basket in the middle of the room, then, occupied by each other or random objects, such as a carpet, the kitties were finally mingling with the customers. I had my part in the fun: Drago was difficult to engage, but Mickey, a soft Scottish Fold, was much more eager to play – even if he got easily distracted by other people seeking his attention.

Although all the cats (I’ve counted five present, with two wee ones never leaving their sleeping post on one of the sofas) seemed rather lazy and disinterested, it was fascinating to watch the interaction between the humans in the room. A big group of friends had known each other anyway, but as time passed, and the felines became more playful, everyone seemed more relaxed in each other’s company – and it dawned on me this would be an ideal venue for a cat-themed function, or a ice-breaker event.

Cat welfare is the top priority at the cafe - but it can also prove a sanctuary to some feline-loving humans

Cat welfare is the top priority at the cafe – but it can also prove a sanctuary to some feline-loving humans

As I have learnt from the staff before my departure, the creator – Heather – was looking for a change from her oil and gas career, and decided to share her love for cats with the wider community. She is the one taking care of the felines in the shop – and is looking to add more to the family in due course.

Albeit not the only one of its kind in the UK, this is the first cat cafe in Aberdeen, and I am curious to see how well it will do. Judging by the interest it generated in the first few days – so much in the visitor count on the inside as well as all the curious glances from passers-by on the outside – this crazy cat idea might just have some traction.

Categories: Aberdeen, Cafes, Hidden, UK | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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