Barista Magazine

DEC 2017-JAN 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 42 of 107

concept, designed to look like a living room, and thus conducive for families to hang out. Customers can choose between cozying up on the couch with air-conditioning inside, or basking in the sun on the beach right outside. A two-group Synesso MVP Hydra churns out yummy espressos day in and day out, created with coffee roasted locally by Coffee Lab Maldives—Family Room's parent company. The crew at Family Room also serves a wide range of manual brews, including the V60, Kalita Wave, CCD, Chemex, siphon, AeroPress, and more. Alongside a seasonal range of blends and single origins, the café offers a spread of pastries and locally produced gelatos. Cheesecakes and homemade brownies are the favorites with the regulars. When the Family Room fi rst opened, no one had heard of specialty coffee in the Maldives. Frequent origin and preparation discussions and cupping sessions were held for the public in the Family Room to create awareness about the importance of specialty. "We see ourselves as more than a café," says Afrah. "Rather, a pioneer, an agent of change to focus not just on profi tability of the business, but also making a difference in our community and the industry at large. We'd like the local community to see that being a barista can be a skilled and dignifi ed job." True to his commitment to skill development and imparting em- ployable skills, Afrah and his team at Coffee Lab Maldives dedicate signifi cant time to training interns from a local high school at the Family Room. The Coffee Lab team is also currently working with the Maldives National University in developing a barista-training program to help develop and support young coffee professionals. On September 29, 2017, Coffee Lab hosted the fi rst-ever Maldives AeroPress Championship with the goal of sending a Maldivian to represent the country in the World AeroPress Championship in Seoul, South Korea, this past November. Hopefully, this international recognition will inspire more Maldivians to imagine a viable career in specialty coffee. M E R A K I C O F F E E R O A S T E R If you fi nd yourself in Malé city, a visit to Meraki Coffee Roaster is a must for any true specialty-coffee lover. As you pass through the redwood doors of Meraki, you'll be struck by the intentionality and quality of every detail inside. From the choice of music to the selection of magazines, interior decor, and furniture, right up to the coffee counter, everything at Meraki refl ects attention to detail and a commitment to excellence. This café's quiet, soothing ambience provides nice relief from the hustle and bustle on the streets of Malé. Meraki is a popular spot among locals and expats alike. You might also fi nd the occasional tourist hunting for some serious coffee. There's a familiar story around here that in 2015, some local thugs were on a rampage cutting down areca palm trees on a fa- mous stretch in Malé. Not wanting the beautiful trees to be wasted, the team at Meraki sought to preserve some of the city's history by converting the palm wood into the countertop and stools for the shop. Meraki was founded by Mabrouq Azeez in 2015, the first specialty-coffee roaster in the Maldives. "My curiosity in coffee started back when I was still in college," Mabrouq says. "I started exploring brewing methods and origins, and I got obsessed with brewing an ultimate cup. One year down the line, I bought myself a small home roaster and started playing around with greens, picking up feedback by sharing what I roasted. "Living in Indonesia, an origin country, while Jakarta was going through its renaissance into specialty coffee, was a game-changer 43

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