Self-confessed Taste addict and owner of popular Cape Town coffee haunt, Escape Caffe, Lameen Abdul-Malik is no average Joe. Here, he tells his extraordinary tale

“I like to believe that life is like a really interesting book that’s divided into different chapters. Next to the entrance of my Cape Town coffee shop hangs a framed Nobel Peace Prize certificate – a daily reminder of a particularly exciting chapter. But, I’m getting slightly ahead of myself…

Description: Description: Taste inspired reader Lameen Aldul-Malik to move Cape Town and open his own coffee shop, Escape Caffe, at 120 Bree Street

Taste inspired reader Lameen Aldul-Malik to move Cape Town and open his own coffee shop, Escape Caffe, at 120 Bree Street

I was born in Switzerland and spent the first 12 years of my life in Nigeria, before moving to England with my family. After earning a degree in economics and, then, my MBS, I worked for the British government before joining the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna as a programme management officer. The Nobel Peace Prize came in 2005, when my team was recognized for utilizing nuclear energy in peaceful ways.

Even though this was a really important stage in my life, there was a part of me that wanted to do something completely different. Serendipitously perhaps, it was around this time that my love affair with coffee started. I remember going on holiday to Rome and drinking coffee that wasn’t made from instant granules. I was amazed that coffee could taste like that. My quest to find the perfect espresso began. I attended coffee conferences, meeting world experts on coffee, and even bought a top-of-the-line espresso machine – the price of which I only revealed to my wife two years later!

In my years working at the IAEA, I had travelled extensively to southern Africa and soften stopped over in Cape Town, which soon became a favorite destination because of its cosmopolitan vibe and established food culture. It was on one such visit that I picked up a copy of taste magazine and became well and truly hooked. Often, the cafes that I visited in Cape Town were at Taste’s suggestion, so when I finally decided to open my own, the location was a no-brainer. In September 2010, Escape Caffe on Bree Street was born.

I’ve loved baking cakes since I was eight years old, so many of the cakes on offer here, like my baked cheesecake, London carrot cake and muffins are made using my own recipes. I get my coffee beans from Arabikaz in Hermanus and grind and blend them in the café. My kids Zahra and Zakaria both adore coffee and often come by after school for a cup. And I can always make my wife Lili smile with a slice of my cheesecake.

This is certainly one of the most challenging, but also most exciting, chapters of my life so far. As for the future? Well, the rest of my book is still unwritten.”

Lameen’s London carrot cake

Serves 8


Great value

Description: Description: Lameen’s London carrot cake

Lameen’s London carrot cake

Preparation: 20 minutes

Baking: 30 minutes

·         Large free-range eggs 2

·         Caster sugar 190 g

·         Canola oil ½ cup, plus extra for greasing

·         Carrots 170 g, peeled and finely grated

·         Crushed pineapple 4 T

·         Flour 200 g

·         Bicarbonate of soda ½ t

·         Baking powder 1 t

·         Ground cinnamon ½ t

For the cream-cheese icing:

·         Icing sugar 250 g, sifted

·         Unsalted butter 70 g, softened

·         Cream cheese 90 g, at room temperature

  1. Preheat the oven to 1800C. While the eggs until they’ve doubled in size and turned pale yellow in color. Whisk in the caster sugar, then slowly add the canola oil, whisking continuously.
  2. Add the carrots and crushed pineapple and mix with a wooden spoon until incorporated.
  3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and cinnamon into the wet mixture and mix vigorously until smooth.
  4. Pour the mixture into a greased 25 cm baking tin and bake for 30 minutes (test the cake by inserting a skewer into its middle – if it comes out slightly damp and the side of the cake have started to pull away from the tin, it’s ready). When cool, turn the cake out onto a plate.
  5. To make the icing, sift the icing sugar then beat with the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Chill for 20 minutes then spread over the cake.
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