Coffee Culture: Larney Ous Indeed!

“Much like Poland never expected the Germans, I never expected that coffee could be this bad!”. This was penned in 2009, by Peter Bendheim, after having forced down a cappuccino at Café Duomo, the shop that used to occupy the shop space just outside the Barnyard Theatre at Gateway.

Fast-forward to 2011 and Café Duomo is gone and there’s a very cool, Italian-meets-Indie (Indie rock not Indian) deli, which has nothing to do with the old Café Duomo, in its place.  Well, maybe this is old news to some of you but better late than never right?  Anyway, I can’t begin to describe to you how stoked I am about this new development! I’m sure Mr. Bendheim is mightily relieved as well because not only do the baristas there make a great cappuccino, but their food is pretty freaking awesome as well.

I’ve been hearing good reports about Larney’s for some time now, so on Saturday afternoon, I decided to swing by and have a look what all the fuss was about.

Now we know what happened to the eagle of the ninth!

The setup is pretty simple yet effective: a number of rectangular tables pushed together create a counter where customers can sit on bar stools and read magazines whilst sipping a double espresso or cappuccino.  This counter also serves to demarcate the restaurant from the general walkway.  I was told by the manager, Eddie, that this is the norm in Italy – simple seating arrangements where customers sit next to one another.  For those who enjoy their privacy though, there are quite a few tables to choose from as well.

How cool are these guys?

The seemingly-mismatched decor (which borders on kitsch at times) manages to tie together in a gritty, discordant sort of way and gives an air of nonchalance about the place but I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. These guys take everything they do seriously.  The name Larney’s itself captures their philosophy perfectly – the food, quality and service is fit for larneys. They use only the freshest, best quality ingredients in their culinary creations which range from delicious, healthy salads and superb paninis and bagels to decadent sweets. The water and juices are all imported from Italy and the coffee, well, that deserves special mention of its own.

Ham, cheese and Dijon Mustard panini - Amazing!

The speciality coffee beans have been roasted by the insanely talented folks at Colombo Tea and Coffee company.  Sure, they could have gone with a more Italian-sounding commercial blend (take your pick) but the smart choice was to go local on this one.  Having your coffee roasted by a local micro-roaster means maximum quality and freshness in every cup. The Jolt is an incredibly sweet, clean blend of Brazilian, Colombian and Guatemalan coffees and is sure to hit you amongst the eyes and leave you wondering what exactly just happened.

Like the name suggests, this stuff is high voltage!

Besides being skillful at their craft, the baristas are also passionate about their coffee and for me, this is the most important thing when it comes to making coffee.  An indifferent barista means that the necessary care and attention that should go into every shot is lacking and will result in, at best, an average cup of coffee, no matter what the quality of beans.

That's the kitchen folks - we're not joking...

Perhaps it’s too early to call, but every now and then, a restaurant or coffee shop comes along that makes a huge success of itself and becomes a household name in Durban town – Spiga, Corner Café and Café Jiran are among examples that spring to mind.  Exactly what it is that makes these places memorable and sets them apart is a topic best discussed in another post.  What I will say is this: given a bit of time and with the right management and marketing, Larney’s could become one of these places and a permanent fixture on the Durban coffee shop circuit.

Spiced hot chocolate - it's seriauuus!

So, drop in for a coffee and grab a chow when next you find yourself in the neighbourhood – it will be well worth your while and with prices topping out at around R40, not that heavy on the pocket either.  Expect great things from this place – I definitely do!