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