Bella Williams walks through the wardrobe and finds a sweet, hidden garden of delights.
In the depths of a museum of linens, silks and leathers, of impeccably tailored pieces, from New Zealand and European fashion labels, is Maloca Coffee. The artisan paradise of The Shelter keeps this Brazilian themed cafe hidden. Serving filter coffee and decadent eats, this specialty cafe is operated by Renato Passoni Ribeiro (ex-chef at Baduzzi) and his wife. Knowing The Shelter well, I make a beeline to the cafe, averting my eyes from the racks of clothes I can but only dream about. A simple counter faces a large table that looks as though it's a part of the art installation. I study the cabinet of sandwiches that match the stylish setting – four-cheese and truffle, eggplant shitake, a classic Ruben, keto rolls and a decadent prosciutto in an activated charcoal bun. That's the one. A variety of sweets accompany the savoury. A chocolate cake so rich and moist light bounces off it, a perfect pastel de nata, an array of raw treats and a Brazilian carrot cake. My love for carrot cake means I must try a slice any time I cross paths with one. I've had an Argentinian carrot cake, so now I shall try the Brazilian rendition.
The coffee is poured slowly through a v60 dripper into a glass jug and served on a wedge of wood with a small ceramic cup. I try the Forquilha Do Rio beans of Red Catuai varietal. The beans are pulped natural and dried on raised beds in a greenhouse on a Brazilian farm and the beans are sourced from microlots, coffee from a small and specific plot of land. The two single origins are from a high-altitude spot in a mountain range in Espirito Santo. The result is a clean cup with a slight sweetness and full body, with an elegant aftertaste. Renato says the taste gets better as the coffee cools – perfect, as I am terrified of scorching my mouth on boiling water. So I take my time, enjoying every sip, before my sandwich arrives. Cut in two, melted cheese and rocket ooze from the crusty-charcoal sourdough casing. The combination of the creaminess of the cheese, fresh pesto, prosciutto and rocket with the light crunch of the toasted bread hits the spot. Served with a mustard mayo that gives just a little more hint of flavour this sandwich is a winner. Not too heavy but doesn't lack in filling. Next, the carrot cake. Not the sort I'm used to with seeds, raisins, carrot shreds and cream cheese icing … instead, this is a lightweight orange cake, served with a rich chocolate dipping sauce. The cake is moist but fluffy with a crunchy crust formed by caramelised sugar crystals. I feel so naughty having cake for breakfast on a Wednesday but it's delectable.
The combination of clothing, homeware, jewellery, perfume and dining under one roof makes it seem as though you are in a European shopping complex, such as Dover Street Market or 10 Corso Como – the concept stores that inspired Vicki Taylor when opening this store. Light pours in through the large windows reflecting off polished concrete floors. Perfect for a catch-up coffee or time by yourself. The enchanting backyard will be a hit during the summer. Renato explains his plans for getting a liquor licence and having Brazilian barbecues and after-work drinks as the warmer months approach – divine. An experience for the senses and a collaboration of cultures, Maloca Coffee is a place that holds that "your local" warmth.