The newest truck, or, we should say micro-bus, to hit Cairo's streets is Café Up, the city's first mobile cafe aimed at giving you your caffeine fix on the road.
If you've ever watched The Food Network, then you'll have seen that one of the hottest trends recently is ditching the traditional restaurant model for a gourmet food truck. To see if they exist here in Egypt, we scoured the city seeing what we could find. The first truck that popped up in Egypt was BRGR Truck and, a couple of weeks ago, we found a cool ice cream truck; this week we add Egypt’s first mobile microbus café: Café Up. To learn more about their operation we headed to a random midan in the Fifth Settlement to get their story - and our caffeine fix.
Exhausted from a long day’s work, we find ourselves struggling to stay awake while driving. In desperate need of a pick-me-up, we found relief in the unlikeliest of places: a midan just outside of Rehab Gate 13. Founded by Mondy Mahmoud and operated by Bakr Saleh, Café Up is officially Egypt’s first mobile café. According to Mondy, “I spent many years working for an Italian café and learned how to authentically make a variety of specialty coffees. I noticed it was difficult to find a quick way to get a coffee on your way to work, as most places take time due to line-ups and having to park far away. So I decided, why not find a way to make it easier to get a good cup of coffee on the go?”
After having this epiphany, Mondy immediately went to work to establish a faster way to get a coffee, settling on cleaning up a microbus and converting it into Egypt’s very first mobile café. “It took a little time, but we made sure to equip the microbus with high-end coffee making equipment to ensure we provide the same standards, if not better, than a typical café shop,” proudly exclaims Mondy. On a mission to prove that there is employment for today’s youth, Mondy hopes that his microbus will inspire others to follow suit, as a microbus can be more than just a cheap commuting death trap. “Unemployment is high and leads many to drive microbuses to try and make ends meet. I have found that this model is way more profitable and we hope to franchise soon,” Mondy tells us.
One look at the menu and customers will be happy to find everything from specialty coffees like a white mocha to traditional Turkish coffee. Ordering a white mocha, we were skeptical as to how a microbus coffee would taste, but were pleasantly surprised as in terms of taste it was comparable to the likes of Costa Coffee, except for half the price. “We got all the necessary licenses so we don’t get bothered. We also use the right equipment and the best beans we can find, so our drinks are just as good as anyone else’s except cheaper and faster to receive,” explains Mahmoud.
These days Café Up has been spending their mornings outside the Stella compound in Tagamoa, serving morning commuters their caffeine fix on the way to work. During late afternoon and evenings, the café truck moves location to just outside Rehab to catch those in desperate need for fuel to keep them alert on the road. The best way to track this truck down is to check out their Facebook, as they post daily where they will be. When they aren’t in these locations, Café Up travels to special events and, in the near future, hopes to expand by franchising their setup and training the next wave of coffee-serving microbus shabab.
Encouragingly, every week we seem to be discovering a new mobile service and, considering that winter is coming, there is no better truck to find on Egyptian streets, as there is nothing in this life finer than a hot cappuccino on a cold winter’s day.
To keep up-to-date on this moving café, click here.
Photography by Ahmed Najeeb