In recent times, coffee shops have been springing up in the streets of Lagos, even if arguably, the culture is still a bit foreign. Most people are more used to restaurants and lounges. But coffee houses have a lot more to offer than just a cup of coffee. They create a serene ambiance for business meetings as well as hangouts for friends who just want to indulge their palates. Just like Coffee Plus, a Lebanese-owned coffee shop that provides not only the ambiance but also a whole lot more than coffee on their menu. The owner, George Andary, is a trained engineer who has been in the country for just six months.

In that short period, he has opened two coffee shops. The first one located at Anifowoshe Close, Victoria Island, is already famous for its cappuccinos and lattes. However, Andary recently took over the pastry shop at The Backyard Bar and Grill premises in Musa Yar’adua Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

“This is more spacious and we are working on putting some designs on the walls as well as a library,” he said.
With this new outlet, Andary is poised to charm his customers with his exceptional barista skills. His coffee menu boasts of different types of coffee, from the espresso, latte to the famous italian cappuccinos. There are also colder coffee drinks like the frappuccinos.

For him, coffee making is an art which must be done impeccably. It goes beyond the mixture of milk, coffee and water.
“You must know the right temperature for your coffee,” he told me, as we went behind the counter to make a cup of cappuccino from his espresso machine. First, he poured the ground coffee into a portafilter before using the tamper to compress it. This helps to give the correct consistency of the coffee – that is, not too finely or coarse. Once done, the portafilter with the ground coffee are affixed to the espresso machine for brewing.

While the coffee brewed, he poured the required quantity of milk in a cold-steaming pitcher. It is important to purge the steam wand to ensure that there is no water retained inside before steaming the milk.
“When you cannot resist the temperature of the pitcher, then you know it’s ready. A good cappuccino must not go beyond 65 degrees else you will lose the taste,” he said as he turned off the steam wand.
The steamed milk is given a little swirl and a bottom tap in order to achieve the cappuccino’s foamy head and ensure that there are no visible bubbles.

“A good cappuccino should have a shiny foamy head not bubbles. Also it must be thick.”
The most fascinating thing about Andary’s coffee is the art that comes with it. He makes different decorative patterns on his lattes and cappuccinos. Sometimes, it’s a swan, other times it could be a heart or a rosette. It is no ordinary art and needs quite some practice. But for Andary, it is a natural skill. He’s been doing this all his life.
“Most times, customers want me to do a particular design for them, others just allow me to do anything for them. They are always impressed by the art.”

I watched him keenly as he made a heart pattern for me. First, he poured the milk into the espresso in a circular motion. The teacup must be tilted in order to achieve the desired shape. Then gently shaking the pitcher of milk, he kept pouring the milk in the centre in such a way that it makes circles, before cutting through to get the bottom of the heart shape. On my first sip, I was blown away by the rich bold flavour. The airy foam is also firm, even when you use a spoon to spread it, it doesn’t easily dissolve into liquid. I added brown sugar to mine for that extra sweetness.

But coffee is not the only offering of this cafe. It is home to pastry, crepe, salads and ice cream. During my visit, I ran into Senator Florence Ita-Giwa who decided to ditch the comfort of her home to explore the new place. It was her first time there. A friend of hers who was related to the owner brought her there. As an advocate for climate change, the greenery and serenity of the premises easily appealed to her. Indulging her exquisite palate, she decided to try their breakfast menu which boasted of different kinds of bacon, omelette, crêpe and bread.
Ita-Giwa’s eyes widened when she saw the platter of colourful omelette, croissants, and toast bread, crêpe and ham cheese, with tiny pieces of grapes.

“This is quite much.” She exclaimed to the delight of the waiter, and of course, Andary who stood nearby, ensuring that everything was done professionally. His eyes kept darting to the senator’s table, waiting to hear her comments about the meal. But he needn’t worry. By the time the senator took a bite of the fluffy tri-fold sausage omelette filled with tomatoes and herbs, she was nodding her head satisfactorily.

“This tastes great,” she said, cutting the crêpe with her knife.
Indeed, the sausage omelette tasted very rich. The fluffy texture made it easier to cut through while the sausage and vegetables gave it a meaty taste. The soft brown crêpe and ham cheese had the perfect balance: It wasn’t too savoury or creamy. Although grapes are not my favourite but the way it was chopped into smaller pieces made it easier to absorb its sour taste. With the toast bread very crisp, it was no surprise that Ita-Giwa wanted some butter on it. “Well, if I have to sin today, I better go through the whole process. May I have some butter please?” she told the waiter, smiling. She chose to have tea instead of coffee.
It was fascinating to watch the senator relish her food in such a manner. “Oh I love food and sometimes I just want to be adventurous,” she enthused.

•Location: The Backyard Bar and Grill, 4B Musa Yar’adua street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

•Ambiance: Very serene and ideal for business meetings.

•Menu: Coffee, crêpe, pastry, tea, ice cream, and breakfast dishes (both English and Lebanese).
•Owner: George Andary, a Lebanese.

The Best Diets for 2018

A new report by the U.S. News & World Report ranked the following diet as the best diets to try this New Year. So if your New Year’s resolution is to burn that excess fat you accumulated during the festive period, the following will guide you in your weight loss journey.

The DASH diet was designed to help people lower their high blood pressure, and it’s characterised by a mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. People on this diet are told to avoid saturated fat, sugary beverages, sweets, full-fat dairy and some oils—and to eat less salt overall.

Mediterranean Diet
The diet gets its name from the eating habits of people living in Mediterranean countries and has been linked to better health and longevity. The Mediterranean Diet meal plan is high in fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy fatty foods like fish, nuts and olive oil.

Flexitarian Diet
A blend of the words flexible and vegetarian, the Flexitarian diet encourages people to eat vegetarian most of the time for better health, but doesn’t call for cutting out meat entirely.

Weight Watchers
Weight Watchers is an especially popular diet, promoted by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey. It works on a points system, where each food is given a number of points, and people are told a total number to aim for each day. Foods that are high in nutrients and are filling have fewer points overall. Sweets, on the other hand, are high in points.

The MIND—a mix of DASH and the Mediterranean diet—is supposed to help protect the brain and prevent Alzheimer’s disease, though much more research is needed to determine whether it really helps curb brain decline. People are encouraged to eat from 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine. They are also told to avoid foods from five food groups: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, sweets and fried or fast food.

TLC Diet
Tied for fifth place, the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) diet is meant to help people cut down on high cholesterol. Adherents cut down on fat overall, especially saturated fat. They are also encouraged to eat more fiber.

People who follow the volumetrics diet—also tied for fifth place—are told to pay attention to the energy density in foods, which is the number of calories in a certain amount of food. Foods that have high energy density will have lots of calories for a little amount of food, whereas low energy density foods have fewer calories for more food.
Source: Time Health