Madhus Cafe must be an ironic name, for the Upper Beaches cafe is anything but a mad house. Instead, when I walk into the cafe on Kingston Rd., I'm enveloped in a sense of calm, thanks to the muted afternoon light that fills the open space, the creamy white walls and the mellow music playing in the background.
Tawny wooden tables, a long church bench and a kind of mid-century modern look give the cafe a certain solemnity. Customers and staff are quietly doing work, smiling, and occasionally chatting in low tones.
The interests of owners and partners Byram Joseph (a.k.a. Slakah the Beatchild ) and Kendra St. George can be felt at every level, from the Rhodes that sits among the tables and the beautiful guitars that hang on the wall to the eight-track on display with the Pilot coffee beans and teas. Slakah is a soul and R&B musician, and by night, the cafe features music performances and other creative events. Even Canadian icon Fred Penner played there recently.
The back room has more tables and spaces to work and acts as a gallery for local artists. Clearly, the cafe is focused on art, acting as a inviting space to chill out, sip coffee and work - a kind of blank space where magical things can happen.
I head to the counter and get an Americano and peruse their many baked goods. They use Pilot's Big Bro beans in an Epoca Rancilio machine, and my barista does a bang-up job. The Americano ($3.25) is chocolately, bright and creamy. Cappuccinos are $3.50, while a latte will run you $4.
The wide selection of Pilot teas is inviting; even the white canisters look lovely beside the other cafe details, and I see several customers enjoying them in nice white pots at the tables. London Fogs and chai lattes are both $4, and they offer hot chocolates and mochas as well.
They carry several types of muffins from Queen B Bakery and Goddess Gourmet energy bars, not to mention a delicious-looking donut that had me tempted. In the cooler are a selection of San Pellegrinos, juices and boxed salads and wraps to eat in or take away, and they usually have a soup that makes for a nice light lunch.
The cafe is a welcome addition to the Upper Beaches neighbourhood, and promises to be a hub for the creative community. It has one of the nicest energies to it of the recent cafes I've been visiting - and made me wish I lived a little closer.
Photos by Jesse Milns