Places like this make me want to kick myself. I think that sometimes I just settle for mediocre thinking that maybe my expectations are too high.
C’mon Aleks, you know better.
I have been wanting to try Bonobo since last summer – specifically, the easing of the first lockdown. At that time I had been organising some weekly lunches for my office and the team had grown fond of the food from Foodstory. Yes, I was surprised: all those carnivores had preferred a vegan lunch over a pizza delivery!
Since I was also on the plant-based, selective-vegan train at that point, I looked for alternatives (back then Foodstory only did one dish a day – since then, they have hugely expanded their lockdown offering and delivery service – great work guys!). My research at the time revealed Bonobo Café. I had never heard of it before, and no wonder – it’s located in one of the most inconvenient places in the city centre, just outside a busy junction with no parking outside (and at-your-own-risk parking in the vicinity). The one time that summer I had Paid & Displayed nearby (digitally, of course!) and walked to its door for a breakfast take-away, I had picked the day they were shut…
On this April mid-week afternoon I was taking a break from the laptop by doing a tour of the touristy bits of Aberdeen – just north of Union Street. That took me all the way to the said junction leading to Rosemount – which is when I remembered Bonobo was nearby.
I arrived at the door at 3:15pm; the notice in the window said they were open 11-3pm – the door was, indeed, open, but there was no one there, at first. Then an assistant appeared. “Are you still serving?” I asked. “Yes, of course!” he replied, after which he noticed the time. “Oh wow, I’ve just noticed the time!” he shouted, and followed with a smile: “But yeah, we’re still open. What can I get you?”
I was a bit surprised when my question about milk alternatives had only one answer: oat. I also appreciated the simplicity of the decision.
It took a while to get my coffee, considering no one had ordered before me; through the window, I could just make out the assistant, who – while chatting to some undisclosed colleague inside – never actually stopped working on the drink. Once finished a few minutes later, he appeared in another set of doors to the left and served the drink on a dedicated table. In that time another late customer had arrived at the “ordering door”, so I took the opportunity to inspect my drink before sampling.
The moment I took the lid off, I knew.
The surface of the drink – even though (beautifully) dusted with chocolate – looked silky smooth and shiny. I actually got excited for what was about to come next.
The looks converted into taste. The concoction was smooth, velvety, with this luxuriously medium-heavy feel on the tongue and the perfect drinking temperature. The oat, chocolate and coffee all perfectly blended. This was not an oat drink, nor a fortified cocoa. It was not sweet like some of the mochas I rated highly either – it tasted more of a dark chocolate bitterness, but the decadent type, that you want to take another piece of and let it melt on your tongue.
Who knew coffee can make you this happy? Well, I should have – but I forgot! Thankfully, I have finally managed to give Bonobo a try; and boy, am I looking forward to going back, whenever in need of a good brew (or sip of happiness)!
Oat Mocha: £3.30
Artisan coffee done right.
This may become one of my favourite places in Aberdeen post-lockdown.
You can learn more about the ethos of Bonobo Café on their website.