Cafe Estufa

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R. do Parque, Maputo, Mozambique




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  1. Expert Review

    4.0 rating based on 1 rating
    Jan 2014 · Kate Thomas

    A Estufa - which translates into English as “the Nursery” - is a hidden gem of a cafe, infused with...

    A Estufa – which translates into English as “the Nursery” – is a hidden gem of a cafe, infused with rows and rows of lush plants, the smell of fresh roasted coffee, and the secrets of Mozambique’s independence era. Spot the donut-shaped greenhouse from a distance and (were it not for its proximity to the FRELIMO ruling party headquarters next door) you’d have no idea that this legendary cafe was created by a female guerilla fighter in the 1970s.

    Isabel, the former owner, took her memories of days spent hiding in the Mozambican jungle during the war of independence from Portugal, and transformed them into a cafe. The plants represent the forest, and the menu includes mysterious drinks such as Nachingweia tea, named after the forest camp where Isabel trained. The tea is made from balacate leaves, which the fighters used to pick in the jungle and mix with hot water, and sweet, condensed milk.

    History aside, this is one of the best places in Maputo for fresh juice and a bite to eat. Slip inside the main building, where white tablecloths are slung between bougainvillea and cacti, or grab one of the wooden, graffitied tables in the garden. The outdoor area is dog-friendly, and the kind waiters will bring over a bowl of water and a dog biscuit for canine companions.

    There are 15 kinds of alcoholic coffee on the menu, including Cafe do Poeta – made with white chocolate, milk chocolate shavings, and a shot of Bailey’s – as well as a good selection of regular coffees and teas. A steaming mug of hot chocolate with Amarula will set you back 150 Mets. The juices are blended fresh to order, and include pineapple (95 Mets) apple, and passionfruit. There are milkshakes on the menu, too, as well as beer. The lunchtime toasted sandwiches – chicken, cheese, tuna or egg – are made fresh, and cut with cilantro. For breakfast, the baked rolls stuffed with cheese and tomato are a savory treat.

    Modern Maputo, with its construction sites and cranes, sometimes seems a world away from the freedom fight of the 1970s. For better or worse, A Estufa is a little slice of the past; of that pivotal moment when the future of Mozambique hung ripe, like mangos and bananas, in the jungle. To get there, head to Rua Pereira do Lago and look for the green space behind Soul Gourmet restaurant; there’s no sign on the wall of the cafe.

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