“Good coffee is a pleasure”- many people say. However, it might be challenging to find a good café whose gate is open to deliver you to the heaven of coffee.
Budapest is crammed with numerous foreign cafés, such as the popular Starbucks or Costa Coffee that can be found literally everywhere in the city. Great names, great brands. But there is a place of Hungarian origin, namely Café Frei which might also arouse the interest of coffee addicts.
To begin with, the name behind the brand may ring a bell from the television industry or book stores. He is Tamás Frei, a travelling television reporter and an author of several novels and documentaries, who has visited more than 130 countries throughout his life so far. Apparently, it becomes clear that his experience and passion for coffee contributed to the opening of Café Frei which claims to be the place of “The World’s most Authentic and Holistic Coffee Experience”.
Let us see whether this assertion proves to be true or not.
I remember the first time I visited one of the Frei coffee shops, the one which is near to Nyugati railway station. I was not a hard coffee consumer back then but afterwards I became one.
When I stepped into the café the atmosphere was compelling although very few seats were available. This café at Nyugati is quite small and narrow spaced with tables for only 2 or 3 people but the decorated walls and the vibrant colours make you stay and wait for empty seats. The Oriental style which dominates all Frei cafés ensures the customers that they are part of a unique place no matter how small it is. What is more; the quality of service is no doubt: bartenders here are prepared and ready to help.
Now, time has come to reveal the coffee production at Café Frei. Trying not to be biased, I can definitely state that I have drunk the most special coffee in my entire life here, at this café. You can encounter flavours from various nations’ coffee kitchens, such as Italian, French, Latino, Japanese, American, and Arabic compiling 70 recipes. Wide range of espressos, cappuccinos and lattes, be it white or black, spicy or sweet – various flavours around the world can be found. Who would not become thrilled by the sheer mention of names like Costa Rica Coconut Macchiato, Casablanca Cream Mint Latte or just a simple Espresso Italiano?
Throughout the summer I visited Café Frei many times. It served as an asylum from the scorching sun since its wide range of glacial and arctic iced coffees are also there to refresh the consumer whenever hot coffee is out of need. My summer time favourite is Cannes Ice Cream Coffee since it calms you down with its sweet vanilla ice cream. Although summer is over now, it is still worth drinking one glass of it.
As a good café, it offers many other products than coffee. As for its cakes, they are so delicious but very small sized at the same time. Perhaps you might not be content with the portion for its price but still worth tasting, for example, the Lombard Praline or the Belgian Chocolate Raspberry Truffle. Moreover, hot or iced chocolate, hot caramel, home-made lemonades, and loose leaf teas are also present in the list. Customers can also purchase some coffee and tea products for home consumption, too. So, Café Frei also has a shop function available. Huge amount of varieties, this is a fact. But what lifts this café out of the crowd really?
Besides its peculiarity in production, the price also has to be mentioned. The average price you have to pay is 530 forints even if for a huge creamy latte macchiato. Let us turn to Costa or Starbucks for a quick comparison. In Costa a small milk coffee costs 790 forints, whereas in Starbucks the same is 650 forints. Both are conspicuously more expensive than Café Frei, and they are only simple milk coffees without any extra. Consequently, in Frei the value-price scale is well-balanced: you drink a special cup of coffee for reasonable price. Who does not want that?
Where to find these cafés? In several shopping centres, for instance, Árkád, Allee, Aréna there is a Café Frei within Libri book store, but separate individual Frei cafés can also be found in the city. Not only is the capital rife in these shops, but other Hungarian cities also have a Café Frei, such as Miskolc, Székesfehérvár, Szeged, Pécs, Nyíregyháza. Café Frei has opened its doors abroad too, like in France, Dubai, Sweden, Romania, Austria, and Saud Arabia.
As an overall conclusion, Café Frei is a special place with special offers for consumers who are open to exotic flavours and wish to taste something unique. It is definitely worth visiting. But be aware. The first visit will not be the last.