Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh coffee in the air!
Marrakech offers a unique experience in a class of its own. Exactly two minutes’ walk separate you from this unforgettable experience when you stay at Riad Selouane.
But from the beginning
The morning awakens with the Riad Selouane’s own intimate tranquility. Only the large date palm in the courtyard occasionally attracts a bird with its melodic song.
Even the call of the muezzin echoes in the Riad like the faint memory of a world long gone. Our world with its hectic pace, the thoughts of it and even the otherwise constant time fade in this microcosm. The rising sun intensifies the scent of the orange trees.
Nothing speaks for leaving this gem.
And yet there are good reasons to explore this incomparable city every day anew: Marrakech! A dream from times long past! Longing and fulfillment at the same time.
A highlight of any visit to Marrakech
Today we take you to the Maître du Moka, the Bacha Coffee House, an absolute must-see in Marrakech.
It is almost lunchtime. The sun is high in the sky. The peaks of the snow-covered Atlas, which seemed so close in the morning, are barely visible on the horizon in the flicker of heat from the rooftop terrace. This is the moment when Nouri, the manager of the house, kindly approaches us with a reminder of the reservation at Bacha Coffee House.
We leave the silence and pleasant coolness of the Riad. With a sound of heaviness and security, the old wooden door closes behind us.
The alley Derb Tizougarine, with its play of shadows and natural reds, welcomes us with a melange of smells of spicy lunches and snatches of conversation in Arabic.
After only 50 meters, the smell of fresh bread dominates the alley. Right at the beginning of the alley, directly opposite the small mosque, completely inconspicuous to strangers, is one of the best bakers in town. Until after midnight, seven days a week, he sells fresh flatbread always warm from the oven — a true revelation for the hungry.
Our senses have barely processed the smell of fresh bread as we find ourselves in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the merchants. Friendly greetings, jokes and laughter are exchanged in all languages.
Between the merchants, there are restaurants, galleries and a hammam waiting for guests. Above everything tower the heavy walls of the royal palace Dar el Bacha. The king’s guests reside here, and he himself owns several other palaces in the city.
The entrance is hidden in the Musée des Confluences
After only a few steps we are just before the crossroads, where the city is pulsating with the sound of mopeds, cabs, carriages and many international voices.
We look for the inconspicuous sign Bacha Coffee House — Maître du Moka — Coffee Masters, as we have reserved a table there for an unforgettable midday coffee.
The entrance to the café is also the entrance to the Musée des Confluences, which helps us find it.
The reception is friendly and as if to test the seriousness of the visitors as well as their will to taste the best coffee in town, we are asked for a small entrance fee. A fee that seals the passage into another world. After only a few meters, the sounds of the city outside fade away.
Magnificent Moroccan tiles
Our path leads along thick walls, decorated with geometric patterns of countless colored tiles, past massively towering high columns that support the wooden, richly decorated ceiling beams, along finely chiseled stucco work. The eye virtually bathes in this exuberant opulence.
After an alternation of corridors and rooms, the view opens onto a large courtyard. Orange trees grow in geometric flowerbeds, bordered by a check of black and white marble, and provide cool shade. The splendor of oriental patterns is everywhere.
Bacha Coffee Boutique
At the end of the courtyard we see a store: the Bacha Coffee Boutique.
On the black and white marble floor, in an ornate inventory of tropical wood, are displayed more than a hundred coffee cans that look almost the same. Only the names on them indicate the different contents.
The scent of coffee is in the air. No, it’s more than that. The scent of the best coffees from around the world is in the air.
Bacha Coffee House
Right next door there is the reception area of Bacha Coffee House. It’s a slim, high-ceilinged room with a sleek reception counter. The wallpaper motifs boast tropical flora and exotic birds. Promisingly emblazoned large over everything is the word Café.
Once again our reservation is checked and with discreet hand signals to the team the service for our experience of coffee enjoyment is arranged. An attentive waiter leads us to one of the few tables in the main room. The ambience of the Bacha Coffee House flows upon us as a beguiling mix of colonial elements and the dream of the Arabian Nights.
Opposite the entrance, along the wall, a huge, elaborately decorated bar made of heavy wood manifests the claim to the title: Maître du Moka. Coffee is celebrated here!
Behind it, in a niche in the wall, eighty-eight identical coffee cans are lined up in precise symmetry. Each of them claims to contain the best coffee. Orange with gold lettering, the cans gleam with promising delight from the otherwise dove-blue wall.
A trim of mint-green wood suggests one might catch a glimpse of the palace garden beyond.
Above it all, a glass roof rests on filigree steel girders. Adjacent to the light-filled main room are three other small rooms, each with a different pleasant design of its own. Palm trees separate the tables, conveying an intimacy of indulgence and sweet temptation.
The waiters are passionate and do credit to the Maître du Moka. Wearing black pants and tie, white shirt and jacket, they exude a confident aplomb. The crimson cap on their heads makes them something unique.
The nonchalance of the service, the understated, yet so confident demeanor immediately makes any guest feel they are in professional and caring hands here.
Bacha Coffee House is looking back on a long history
Founded in 1910 in the then newly built Dar El Bacha Palace, it was considered the supreme authority for coffee enjoyment in Marrakech.
It was here that the coveted Coffee of Arabia was served, which we know today as Arabica.
Even then, the world was guest in Marrakech and among the most famous visitors were Charlie Chaplin, Josephine Baker, Maurice Ravel, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.
After World War II, the Coffee House and Palace were closed and fell into a slumber of over 60 years.
In 2017, the palace reopened as Musée des Confluences after two years of renovations. Since then, the Bacha Coffee House has once again welcomed guests from all over the world.
This long period of oblivion is also the reason why it has been possible to preserve its own incomparable style. The crockery, cutlery, ambience and service give an idea of the high standards that are set for the enjoyment of coffee.
The ritual of drinking coffee
But back to the coffee. The help of the waiters is urgently needed in view of the manifold choices! Each guest is handed two menu cards. The first, in the same orange as the coffee cans, opens up a view of coffees from all over the world. Once you start reading the varieties and flavors, you soon get lost between dark chocolate, almond, orange, hazelnut, licorice or bergamot notes.
The coffee menu is a revelation!
There are well over 150 different coffees — each with its own promise of flavor and sensuality.
In the end, the difficulty is to decide which coffee to choose.
But no matter what choice you make, the waiter will make your chosen coffee a wonderfully complete experience.
Optionally, you can order a culinary accompaniment to the coffee from the second menu. Special attention should always be paid to the in-house pastry shop. Everything is to be recommended. But it is even better to ask the waiter for a recommendation for the selected coffee — you will not regret it!
The preparation of the coffee is its own ceremony, so it is worth sitting near the bar and watching the routine craft. Each order is prepared fresh with great care and then served pronto.
The coffee is served in tall, sleek, gilded pots. No, it is celebrated in these pots. With graceful elegance, the waiters pour the steaming hot coffee from the long thin spout into the thin-walled porcelain cups.
In an instant, the air is filled with the aromas of the coffee in question. The ritual of pouring heightens the senses so that the aromas are perceived much more intensely.
And while the coffee in the cups exudes its aroma, the waiters give hints on how the true connoisseur may further refine this ceremony. There is a recommendation for each selected coffee variety, how and especially which sugar enhances the aroma.
The same applies to the whipped cream provided. Sometimes the coffee still needs the harmonious rounding off by freshly ground vanilla.
And then you are discreetly left alone with this seductively fragrant coffee ensemble.
At this point, only this much can be revealed: the first sip opens a door, the second opens up another world, and the third sip is addictive. Addicted to another coffee, another visit.
Fortunately, there is a second cup of coffee in every pot.…
Even if you didn’t like coffee before — give the Maître du Moka a chance to indulge you.
You will remember this visit for a lifetime.
Bacha Coffee House
in the Musée des Confluences in the Dar el Bacha Palace
Route Sidi, Abdelaziz Marrakech 40000, Morocco
(+212) 5 24 38 12 93
Opening hours 10:00 — 18:00
Closed on Monday
The café offers over 200 coffees, delicious cakes and a light lunch menu with very tasty dishes.
In the boutique you can buy over 200 Arabica coffees from over 33 countries.
To visit the café, there is a small admission fee of about 1€, which goes towards maintaining the museum.
Reservations are recommended as the café is quite small and always busy. Your hotel will be happy to help you with this.