The Art of Coffee
By Vesper Stockwell Translated by Naomi Lai
Specialty Coffee House
161, HuiLai Rd, Sec 1
Hours: 8 am-6 pm
Credit cards not accepted. No service charge.
Wireless Internet available.
Named after the four elements in which a good cup of coffee must excel, BAFA is a specialty coffee house where coffee enthusiasts can relish the Body, Aroma, Flavor and Aftertaste of the perfect brew. Here, instead of a drink menu, customers choose from various types of coffee beans written on a blackboard above the bar. Hailing from as far away as Brazil, Tanzania, Hawaii and Papua New Guinea, all the beans are selected according to the standards of the Japanese LCF (Leader Coffee Family) system and meticulously hand-ground.
BAFA's young proprietor/founder, a co-owner with her husband, already has 20 years experience in the coffee industry, thanks to an early introduction at age 14 when she underwent strict training from a Japanese company in Taiwan looking to cultivate coffee connoisseurs. She spent four years alone learning to smell and taste coffee before she began roasting beans.
"It's more important that the coffee beans are good than the method of roasting," Mrs. Wu explains. "Why is a mother's cooking so good? It's not because she's a professional chef. She buys the freshest ingredients and prepares the food with love."
It seems everything has been taken into account in order to enhance the experience of enjoying coffee at BAFA. The bone china was selected not only for its fine quality, but also for its superior heat-retention ability. An order of hot black coffee (NT$200-300) is served steaming in a beaker along with a small amount of that same brew chilled in a separate stemmed glass. The server instructs you to cover the glass with your hand and swirl it around before uncapping it to take a whiff and a sip. This allows you to appreciate the aroma and flavor of the coffee in all its various states. Iced coffee (NT$250) is artfully presented in a sake-style flask with a hollowed center that cradles the ice separately, allowing the coffee to remain chilled while its flavor is undiluted. For non-purists, try an Italian-style Caffe Latte (NT$140/150) or Cappuccino (NT$140/150), served with an authentic cap of foam.
Not a caffeine drinker at all? Choose from several freshly-blended juices made from a combination of apples, pineapple, lemons and surprising elements like red cabbage. A beverage order can be accompanied by a choice of two light meals. In addition to the fresh fruit, salad and soup of the day included in both sets, option "A" (NT$49) offers homemade bread, scrambled eggs (replaced by a boiled egg on the weekend) and Vienna sausage, while "B" (NT$69) comes with homemade yoghurt and jam, a baked sweet potato and savory crepe.
This coffee house is inviting with its warm wood surfaces, cozy corners and plenty of natural light, filtering in through floor-to-ceiling windows. Instead of jump-starting your brain with caffeine in order to plow through the work day, BAFA advocates an alternative coffee sensibility.
"Taste the coffee with your eyes, nose, tongue and heart," Mrs. Wu encourages. "Why the heart? Because it's easy to get caught up in the busyness of everyday life. We need to slow down, sit, take in our surroundings, and learn how to appreciate a gentler pace."