Malta has slowly become a nation of much more discerning coffee-drinkers, leading to a number of specialist coffee shops around the islands.
It isn't hard to get a decent cup of joe on the Maltese Islands thanks to these coffee enthusiasts and their fantastic artisan coffee.
Lot Sixty One
The newest addition to Malta’s coffee movement takes us to the capital, Valletta, where Lot Sixty One, a café franchise with establishments in New York and London, has recently opened its doors. Here, quality green beans are hand-roasted fresh, and locally on location in a Probat L12 roaster, to celebrate the unique flavours of the coffee. Clayton Xuereb, the man who brought the franchise to Malta and founded the Speciality Coffee Association locally, says he wants to create a coffee community, teaching people about the full circle of coffee. “We're organising events and cupping sessions for people to really understand the process of drinking good coffee.”
Coffee Circus was launched in 2014 by a group of Lithuanians who missed the coffee culture back home, and it is now probably the most well-known artisan coffee shop in Malta. From selling speciality, freshly-roasted coffee from a humble tuk-tuk in Mosta, and later a bicycle wheeled along the Strand in Sliema, the company has since put down roots with a small coffee shop just off Mosta’s main square, and another one in Marsascala.
"It's called Coffee Circus because every month we have a new attraction, a new star blend!” says Kristina, one of the baristas. “The coffee beans we use are from the Arabica family, rather than the lower-growing Robusta. This means that they have less caffeine but more flavour.” While the thought of a lower dose of caffeine might turn some people off, all doubts about the potency of the flavour are vanquished when you taste the first drop of a punchy Coffee Circus espresso. And for those days when it’s a little bit warmer, they make a mean iced coffee too.
KefaKafe is a pocket-sized coffee shop nestled on a street corner in the village of Naxxar. Its owner, Steve Alamango, is by far the most knowledgeable coffee enthusiast I’ve ever met. “I’ve always been interested in good, healthy coffee, and wanting to make the whole process from crop to cup transparent,” he says. The shop stocks coffee blends and varieties that come from far and wide, both for drinking at the shop as well as to take home. “Our coffee is shade-grown fresh roast artisan coffee, of the highest quality and maximum density beans. It is also UTZ-certified and certified-speciality, guaranteeing that the coffee does not support any slave labour or unsustainable deforestation,” Steve explains.
Customer favourites at KefaKafe include flat whites made from blended or single-estate Ethiopian coffee, as well as various types of cortado coffees. “My masala chai is also a favourite for many!” Steve smiles.
“The search for the best espresso is endless,” says coffee entrepreneur Ewa Wiktoria Milewska. “With more than 10 years’ experience in the coffee sector in Italy, I decided to make my dream come true, a place where people can taste the best espresso in the world, full-bodied, with an unmistakable aroma and high-quality taste.” Thus Caffè Berry was born, a tiny but instantly-recognisable blue coffee shop on the corner of St Domenic Street in Sliema.
“Everyone has their own experience of coffee, but our vision is to make people appreciate real espresso – the true Italian espresso experience,” Ewa says proudly. But while the staff at Caffè Berry rightly pride themselves on their excellent, no-frills espresso, their most recognisable drink is the Berrycino, a delicious (not to mention extremely Instagrammable) drink with a layer of hazelnut or pistachio spread around the rim of the cup.