Cama Coffee (咖啡)

This picture bears repeating.

I recently saw a picture on Facebook of one of my professors exploring Korean coffee culture during a visit to South Korea. The accompanying picture seemed more like a milk than a coffee. I was a little hard pressed to remember whether there was anything unique about Taiwanese coffee culture, other than coffee green tea (coffee mixed with green tea). Taiwan seems to have at least three coffee shops per block. In fact, near the apartment where I was living, there was a coffee shop next door called Louisa Coffee, and another coffee shop a few steps away from that called No. 36 Coffee, neither of which I tried. A few steps down the street was a McDonalds with a McCafe, and a lot of convenience stores like 7-11 or Family Mart also brewed coffee to sell, either the same way as all the other places, or in frozen form in the refrigerated section. From the frequency of coffee, you’d infer that a lot of Taiwanese people drink coffee pretty frequently, and I guess you’d be right.

A lot of these places, like the coffee shops near my apartment, were more like small places with a few tables and chairs placed outside. There were other places, like Ikari Coffee, which was supposed to have the best Italian coffee (I kind of doubt it), or Dante Coffee, which were nicer coffee chains with air conditioning, nice cakes, and comfortable chairs to sit on.

I saw a couple multi-level Starbucks. Many of these Starbucks were three levels high, and I kind of wondered at the popularity. My aunt, a coffee drinker, told me that Starbucks is very popular in Taiwan right now, but that while it is very expensive, it doesn’t taste good.

I mentioned to some of my relatives that I was really craving coffee, and I ended up going to a coffee shop the day before I left. I did have numerous opportunities to drink coffee while I was in Taiwan. The picture on the left is on a visit to a restaurant whose name I forget. It was a small cafe type of place which sold food in meal sets. One had a choice of coffee, red tea, green tea, and juice along with their meal set. I chose coffee. It was served black in a small cup along with a creamer. I’m not used to drinking coffee black with few creamers, and prefer to drink mochas or cappuccinos, and ended up putting two more creamers in before it was to my taste, but it was a decent coffee. I also had the excellent mocha in this post at a California cuisine restaurant.

Cama Cafe, a small chain in Taiwan, takes the cake for its excellent coffee. It really is stronger coffee than I am used to, but I don’t regret it at all, and wish I had more access to that kind of coffee. It’s kind of similar to Coffee Exchange on Wickenden for Rhode Islanders — it’s very very good coffee. This cafe kind of looked like a hole in the wall at first glance. There was little to no air conditioning (more of a take-out coffee?) and few places to sit. There was a lot of wood planks lying around. The choices of coffee were simple: cappuccino, mocha, Americano, etc. In addition, they offered things like hot chocolate, mint hot chocolate, and orange wine hot chocolate (the last I’ve never heard of) as well as a variety of cold juices. They also had a plum vinegar drink that was superb but took some getting used to.

click to enlarge

Here is a sign outside the front door which seems to outline Cama Cafe’s mission. I can’t read the Chinese, but from the pictures, here’s was my guess, which might be wildly wrong:

1. They inspect the coffee beans and select only the best.

2. They roast the coffee beans to perfection.

3. The coffee bean is then ground and made into a drip coffee that you can then drink.

4. This is a great drink on the go and will make you happy!

I found an English version on their Facebook page, and it says:

1. Careful grading

2. Ranked brewing skill

3. Mellow roast daily

4. Anytime enjoyment

My pictogram translation was not too off…

Check out their Facebook page for more info! In the pictures section, there are albums for each Cama Cafe, along with the location. I was trying to find mine, but don’t remember which district in Taipei I live (duh). Each has a similar look, with the wooden benches and dark wood seating, small space, and the cute guy with the big nose that serves as their logo. Cama Cafe also has a blog which they update weekly, and which I cannot read. Must work on Chinese!

I ordered my usual mocha (摩卡咖啡), which definitely had a good strong brew with an excellent taste.

In terms of cost, the Americano costs about 40 NT, or a dollar and 30 cents. The mocha is 70 NT, which is two dollars and 30 cents. Still cheaper than Starbucks. Their juices as the cheapest at 35 NT, or a dollar and 15 cents. They offer drinks in both hot and cold.

The prices are below if you can read Chinese.

Here is a picture of the mocha:

Will miss it!

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