RIGA - Once upon a time in a galaxy not so far away, if you asked for a cappuccino in a Riga cafe your request would have been met with a dumfounded stare. You may as well have been speaking Aramaic for all the sense you'd make. How times change. These days Rigans love their cappuccinos and their cappuccinos love them. It's a mutually advantageous relationship, in short.
The only real dilemma facing a new cafe is what form of the word "coffee" to use in its name: planet coffee, coffee nation, double coffee, quadruple coffee, infinite coffee 's almost all the conceivable variations have been taken.
That's why you must overlook the somewhat unimaginative-sounding name of All Cappuccino, the latest cafe chain to set up shop in the Latvian capital.
But what All Cappuccino lacks in onomastics it more than makes up for in atmospherics. Quite simply, it's the best cafe in town.
There are currently two All Cappuccino outlets: one on K. Barona Street and one on Antonijas Street. The outlet on Barona Street is set on two floors with the notable distinction that smoking is permitted in the basement.
The decor is pleasantly refined, the atmosphere conducive to conversation. There's none of that piped-techno that makes Double Coffee so unbearable at times. In fact, All Cappuccino probably plays some of the best music of any place in Riga.
The owners seem to have an obsession with gritty old-school soul and funk music, since that's almost all you ever hear there. In fact, the music is good all day long and at times it's astonishingly good.
All Cappuccino seems to be filled with all the exiled smokers in the city, and it can get unbearably smoky in the basement. But the large upstairs section is smoke-free and filled with plenty of cozy tables.
There's a decent menu with a fairly small but diverse range of dishes on offer. It's not exactly gourmet but it's definitely better than the grub you find at most cafes. The fish and chips are as good as any I've had in Riga and comes reasonably priced.
But while the Barona Street outlet is great for atmosphere, the one on Antonijas Street is surely one of the coziest cafes in the whole city.
It's much smaller than its funky counterpart and mellower. It's the ideal place to go and read a book or catch up with old friends, or to sit and watch other people reading books and catching up with old friends. And the waitress won't look at you like you're speaking Aramaic when you ask for a cappuccino.
As you'd expect from a new cafe in a modern European city, All Cappuccino boasts every imaginable kind of coffee on its menu. It even has decaf. Try going back in time 10 years and asking a waitress for a decaf cappuccino. She probably would have directed you to the nearest post office.
11 Antonijas St.
30 Barona St.