625, YingCai (Yingtsai) Rd
Hours: 10 am-9:30 pm
Credit cards not accepted.
No service charge. Free wireless Internet.
Leo Tsao left a career in the semiconductor industry to open this attractive cafe, directly opposite the Taichung Culture Center, with his wife Claire and business partner Shane. Rafiki, which means "friend" in the Swahili language, combines Leo's deep love for coffee and Africa, which he recently visited. Not surprisingly, the cafe's carefully-selected coffee beans include Kenyan AA and Ethiopian custom-made blends. The exquisite coffees here include the creamy, fragrant Rose Caffe Latte (NT$130/140 hot/iced), made with a rose extract specially sourced from Nantou county's Puli, or the Rafiki Special Ice Espresso with Cream (NT$110), mix of espresso, special syrup, ice cubes and cream topping that is best enjoyed in one big swallow. Leo also goes a long way to ensure that his snacks, desserts and light meals are healthy, all-organic, low-cholesterol and low-oil. Monday to Friday, he offers an all-day meal-and-drink special for NT$190-210. --By Douglas Habecker, translated by Naomi Lai
A. The Smoked Chicken Bagel with Salad (NT$110) is a filling, healthy and tasty mix of textures and flavors. Besides bagel combos, other food at Rafiki includes the Rice Burger with BBQ Pork and Ginger Sauce (NT$120) and the creative Masai's Bell Brownies (NT$45)--little treats designed by Leo to resemble African Masai tribal bells.
B. Waffle varieties include the Cheese and Smoked Chicken Waffle (NT$130), which goes perfectly with Rafiki's many coffees, teas and other drinks, such as a refreshing cold glass of Organic Rose Drink (NT$120/iced glass, NT$150/hot pot) or a pot of Organic Assam Black Tea (NT$150/pot), both pictured here.
C. Leo's cafe decor is a mix of modern elements and rougher African-inspired textures, plus a variety of art and decorative items brought back from the Dark Continent.