Saturday morning we ran a few errands (including booking a night at Mvuu game lodge for when Meghan and Kate are here!) and decided to go to Mandala House for coffee. Mandala House was built in 1882 and is the oldest European building in Malawi. It was built for John and Frederick Moir, Scottish brothers who had been involved in Livingstone’s missionary trip in 1875. The brothers founded the Livingstonia Central African Mission Company that later became the African Lakes Corporation. This building, the headquarters for the company, became known as Mandala, after John Moir’s local name. Mandala loosely means “pools of water”, a reference to Moir’s spectacles.
The building is classically British colonial and looks like it could have been built in the West Indies, East Indies, or outside of Charleston, South Carolina. It has broad verandas, wide planked hardwood floors, and large airy windows.
The top floor hosts the Society of Malawi archives, a conference room and a small library. Downstairs is home to a gallery displaying carvings, paintings, and other works of art by some of Malawi’s leading artists.
And then there is La Caverna, the Italian-run cafe. Here, you can sit on the brick patio, under the trees (or under the porch if it’s raining) and sip your French press coffee, latte, or cappuccino.
You could also have lunch and enjoy one of the daily specials, like mushroom risotto. And if you really want to spoil yourself you could order from the daily selection of cookies, cake, or gelato.
Personally, I can recommend the peanut butter and the chocolate chunk cookies.
The staff here is warm and welcoming and doesn’t seem to mind that we camped out for multiple cups of coffee and multiple orders of cookies.