Study abroad changes people in unexpected ways. Strange ways. Ways that don’t really make sense. For example, who would have thought that I would learn to love americanos, coffee, and coffee shops on a tropical island in a fairly small city where it’s always hot? But this just proves that it’s not just the location that changes you, but the unique people you meet and befriend. And for me it’s our neighbors fault… the Canadians! But I love them for it. Coffee shops and I were made to be: good drinks, good food, and good conversation.
Because of Cindy and Sarah Canada, I’ve been to more coffee shops here in Fiji than I ever went to in the States. Sometimes we bring our laptops and pretend we’re going to do homework, but sometimes we just go and talk. Actually sometimes I do get homework done (the lack of free wifi often helps). So far I’ve been to four places: Gloria Jeans, Caffee One, Republic of Capuccino, and Bulaccino. In fact, I think I am currently over-coming a mild caffeine addiction. My goal this week… no coffee or espressos (though tea is allowed if necessary).
Behold Gloria Jeans, my first exposure. It’s in the MHCC which is a sort of mall with a big MH grocery store and Bread Lovers, a bread/pastry shot, that we often buy groceries at. Why not get a coffee on your way in or out? Their coffee is pretty good. They have iced drinks that are incredibly rich, too rich for me. I got a cookies and cream “chiller” and wow was it thick! I prefer the Americano, and on a hot day an iced sweetened Americano. The pastries all look amazing, but can be a bit of a hit or miss. The carrot cake does NOT have cream cheese frosting (extremely disappointing), chocolate cake is okay, chocolate pastry, and chocolate croissant are both good. From Brittany I’ve also heard the chicken salad sandwich is great.
Not too far from Gloria Jeans, inside Tapoo City (the nicer shopping mall), is Caffee One. It’s small, but has a nice cozy coffee shop vibe with couches and a cute little nook. Good people watching spot too as you can see the movie theater and a bit of the market from there. You know you want to pick up a magazine and then really just stare at people going buy. Lord knows that they’ve stared at me enough. I have only been there once and the unsweetened iced Americano was incredibly strong, too strong to really even finish… not a fan. Also the chocolate-orange muffin was lack luster and simply not moist enough. So it needs a little further exploration, but right now it’s not on the top of my list.
Another shop I’ve only been to a few times is Republic of Capuccino which is also in town in Suva. However since it’s a bit farther from the market and bus stops it is slightly less convenient The joint is a little smaller, but still nice. Coffee is decent and they do latte art in cappuccinos which is always fun. Pastries are a bit lacking in terms of selection and taste. Don’t get the blueberry muffin… it’s just not worth it. It’s saving grace though is the free wifi (though be warned that it’s a bit spotty).
Last, but certainly not least is Bulaccino. This is, by far, my favorite coffee shop here in Suva (which probably means the best in all of Fiji). First of all you can walk there easily from USP in less than ten minutes, though if it’s raining then it will only be a $2.50 cab ride. The cappuccinos, Americanos (iced and hot), iced tea, and espressos are awesome! I have personally tried them all. Also EVERY pastry I have tried has been excellent! The carrot cake even has cream cream cheese frosting. Also highly recommended are the caramel squares and lemon bars. Also they have croissants, bagels, and ciabatta rolls that are made in house and again are delicious. There’s even a little fish n’ chips joint inside and you can get other real food. Today I had a bagel with cream cheese, salmon, capers, and lime juice and it was DELICIOUS! Just an easy simply recipe that I would love to recreate at home. It’s big and has a nice outside area to eat and lots of spots inside. The only things to know is that they charge $2 extra for butter and jam if you get a bagel or ciabatta (which are only 90 cents) and they are closed on Sundays. Can you tell I’ve been to this one a lot?
The one coffee shop that I haven’t yet tried (mostly because I would have to take a cab there) is Mango Bay Café. It’s supposed to be pretty good… but for now I’m more than happy with Bulaccinos.