In this five part series, I recap my recent trip to Kenya where I sampled the up and coming coffeehouse culture Kenya. In the fourth part of the series, I give compare the three, Nairobi Java House, Dormans and Artcaffè, by taking a look at Dormans
In my opinion, Dormans, “the coffee experts”, was the icing on the cake of my coffee sampling trip to Kenya.
Like I had mentioned in one of my previous posts, Dormans came highly recommended to me by a couple of people and as a result, this was one place I was really looking forward to trying out. Dormans actually has a number of retail locations in and around Nairobi but the one that I really liked was the Dormans retail location at The Junction. I also checked out the one located at the Yaya Centre mall and visited but did not sample at the one located at the Westgate mall.
The first thing I noticed about Dormans is that they tend not to rent their own dedicated rental shop space. It seems to be that their strategy is to rent ‘courtyard’ space within the various malls and set up an espresso bar and chairs and tables for cafeteria style sitting.
At the Yaya Centre location, the Dormans there has got to be the tiniest espresso stand I have ever seen anywhere. It is tucked under this little nook, and I would dare to say that if you were the typical NFL football player or NBA basketball player, you would not be able to fit behind the stand. There is however, more than ample seating for customers who want to sit and relax there.
At the same time, the Dormans espresso bar at the Westgate mall is the largest stand of the three that I have seen thus far. This particular Dormans has the best and most comfortable seating of the three I have visited thus far. The seating includes almost ‘lounge’ style of seating. And at the time I was there, I did not order any drinks, nor sit and relax there because… I was at Artcaffè downstairs.
The second thing I noticed was the wherever there is a Nairobi Java House, there is a Dormans. Once again without knowing the actual details, I would hazard a guess that their strategy is to appeal to those who want a good cup of espresso but are not looking to eat lunch or dinner. Unless I was pretty hungry and I wanted an actual meal, given the choice between Nairobi Java House and Dormans, I would certainly choose Dormans! I am guessing that they probably do have a symbiotic relationship.
Just like Artcaffè, I had a great customer service experience at the Dormans… well more specifically the Dormans located at The Junction. The two baristas I talked to, Alex and Steven stood out to me in contrast the the baristas at Nairobi Java House, and even the Dormans baristas at Westgate mall. I liked the fact that Alex and Steve were interested in promoting Dormans as a world class coffeehouse and this they did in my opinion. In addition, they were glad to show us their skills in the art of the barista. This is an indication that they are passionate about coffee… a passion that sadly many coffeehouses, even in Seattle, lack.
Without breaking any of the in-house rules and regulations, Alex and Steve were able to accommodate our requests rather than the other places where the baristas and waiters simply repeated the “no photography” policy. As a result, I was able to get a great picture of the beautiful latte art they did for me (as you can see at the top of this posting). It is mainly as a result of these two baristas, that I ended up going back specifically to the other Dormans locations instead of Nairobi Java House.
And Of course in addition to great customer service, the most important aspect of a coffeehouse is the coffee, good coffee. And I have to say that I think Dormans has excellent coffee. Not only did I enjoy an excellent latte that Alex pulled for me, but I the day I was flying back to Seattle I went to Nakumatt and bought bags of Dormans coffee to take back, some for me and some for friends here in Seattle.