Safari Coffee

Cuisine: Somali
3414 Cleveland Avenue

Click here to map it!

We visited Safari Coffee late on a “school night” which made the majority of the Somali portion of the drink menu off limits, as they were mostly caffeinated coffees and teas. This was just a small speed bump in experiencing the wares of the brightly-lit joint; while drinks were a no-no, desserts were totally okay. Which is good, because I like desserts.

Four unmarked desserts were available for my consumption, and as we were a small army of what our previous restaurant referred to as “Caucasians,” there was a high probability that we could try all in one sitting.

As far as ambiance goes, Safari Coffee, at the corner of Cleveland Ave. and Innis Rd., has the looks of many Somali places throughout the city: fluorescent lighting, a television showcasing Al Jazeera, bright colors and a very clean feel.

Throw in smoothies and all sorts of western soft drinks, and you have a comfortable stepping point into Somali cuisine for the cautious-yet-curious.

Two of the dessert offerings, pictured above, were quite “safe,” even for the non-adventurous. To the left is qumbe, a close relation to the macaroon. This moist bar cookie is made up of coconut, sugar, milk and flour. On the right is a lightly sweetened cookie, subtle in flavor and similar to a biscuit one might have with tea in England. The antithesis to overly-sweet American desserts, this cookie was a tiny bit dry, meant, of course, to go with the caffeinated drinks that I didn’t order.

And then there’s this. When I first saw it in the dessert case, I thought it looked like some sort of animal part – a liver or a heart, perhaps – served in a ziplock bag. I kept this opinion to myself and strongly lobbyed for someone else to order it, so that I could try it, yet not feel obligated to finish it. Halwa, as its called, is like a hardened jello without with gelatin. (Vegetarians, this dessert is likely safe!) The dish is made up of sugar, cornstarch, peanuts and spices like nutmeg, cardamom and saffron. I found that it tasted a little like ginger snaps, and nothing like animal parts.

And so. Somali food isn’t all just goat meat and unfamiliar spices, especially when you start with dessert.


8 responses to “Safari Coffee

  1. I drive by this place all the time and always wondered about it. Now I know I’ll have to check it out.

  2. Cool, nice catch. I’m going.

  3. Their coffee was amazing!! So excited to have more – we stopped in around 8 on a Saturday night just before the place filled up right after Muslim prayer. I’m glad they seem to have a loyal customer base.

  4. I finally tried this place out tonight. The coffee is good. The cup of the day without cream is basically an Americano, with cream it’s basically a latte.

    8:00 on a Saturday night, though, is a particularly intimidating time to visit. For a muslim culture, I got the sense that this time — right after evening prayer on the weekend — is the prime-time for coffee shops.

    It was also a little intimidating having the only two women in the place be my companions, but no one made us feel that way. We just obviously stuck out.

    Next time, I’ll try to go earlier in the day.

  5. I had the tea and it was the best I’ve ever had…I think I have a new addiction. It’s got a cozy spice that’s definetly there but not face-puckering strong. Also the beef sambusa was delicious. Sambusa and Somali tea may be my new comfort food.

  6. I am the owner of Safari Coffee. This website was brought to my attention by a customer of mine today. It is interesting to see our customers give their unbias report about my coffee shop. I am very proud of all of you, thank you so much guys, in particular @NICK for have the courage to come in our restaurant and try us. We welcome everyone to our restaurant. We are a family owned business who are trying to live up to the American dream. May god continuesly Bless the United States of America.

  7. My name is abdiweli hashi. i am attending university of Akron at the moment , but i lived in Columbus Ohio before i moved to Akron Ohio. Safari Coffee is a great place to eat and hangout sometime, Sometime, i go back to columbus to see family and friend. my first stop is usually Safari Coffee to get tea before anything else. their tea is very nice. i think, i am addicted to Safari’s I personally, realized it takes an understanding of others and their beliefs and values to truly gain respect and further our business and personal relationship. Safari owners are very friendly and respectfully people. i like the way safari owners treat their customers. they build great relations with their customers. they put these ”cultural blinders” on and are oblivious to any other cultures. Keep up the good work team….your boy feen showing some love…

  8. you guy have the best rice ever and i love your tea!!!

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