Located directly on Place Rahba Kedima in the northern part of the medina of Marrakech you will find the Café des Épices with its rooftop terrace offering magnificent views over the spice market. Feel invited to stretch your legs here and take a tea break with a special flavour.
Admittedly, Café des Épices with its face painted in red is far from being an insider tip — you will find the café mentioned in almost every travel guide by now. Yet, with its brilliant location at the northern edge of Place Rahba Kedima, its terrace and the special hot drinks that are served here, it is definitely still worth a visit.
Tasteful chill out area in the northern part of the Medina
The easiest way to reach the spice market and the Café des Épices is from Jemaa el Fna. From the square’s northern edge, walk for about 400m to the north-east through the souks and, halfway to signposted Ben Youssef Madrasa, you will reach Place Rahba Kedima where spices, basketry, knitwear, fragrances, traditional beauty products and ointments are sold.
Café des Épices is also located here. The narrow, renovated building spreads over three levels – if you include the little rooftop terrace which towers above the little square – and is thus one of the highest buildings here. Inside, the Café is tastefully decorated in a rather minimalistic style. It does without the Arabian kitsch you find so often, yet it denies neither Moroccan traditions nor local arts and crafts. Accordingly, you will find traditional tadelakt floors and wooden seating inside the café.
While the ground floor and the few tables in front of the café are rather busy, you will find a perfectly relaxed atmosphere on the floor above which invites you to chill out in the cool interior. More seating can be found on the relatively small rooftop terrace where you can lay back in the shade of an awning and a few parasols. From up here, you have a great view over the busy spice market and you can take some pictures unobservedly. Also, the minaret of Koutoubia Mosque, the town’s landmark, can be photographed from here, as it towers over the city in the south west.
Cardamom coffee, ginseng tea and fresh snacks — Café des Épices lives up to its name
Managed by a French-Moroccan team, the Café des Épices serves cold drinks, coffees and teas, putting the promise of its name into practise: All hot beverages are also offered as spicy variations with a special twist in their flavours. So, if you have a break at Café des Épices don’t miss out on the special coffees flavoured with cardamom, nutmeg, mace, cloves, ginger or cinnamon. Tea lovers can enjoy thyme, ginseng or cinnamon variations instead of the typical sweet mint green tea for a change
Besides those drinks, look forward to delicacies like pastries or little snacks like salads, sandwiches or Moroccan starters and side dishes. The food is simple but fresh and tasty. Prices are a bit higher than in the simple cafés in the neighbourhood. For one of the extravagant coffees be ready to pay about DH 15-18 DH — the quality and friendly service are definitely worth it.
In a nutshell: No insider tip but a good choice
Café des Épices is no longer an insider tip, but this is no reason for avoiding it. On the one hand, it is conveniently situated between Djemaa el Fna and the sights in the north-eastern medina, like the Musée de Marrakech, Ben Youssef Madrasa or the Maison de la Photographie, so that the café makes the perfect spot for a break in the middle of your sightseeing tour in the northern medina. On the other hand, many other simple cafés in the area do not appear as inviting as the Café des Épices. Last but not least: Where else in Marrakesh will you be offered coffee specialities like that?
However, restrictions have to be made for people with disabilities: The stairs leading to the upper floors are very steep and narrow. Wheelchair users will have to content themselves with the tables in front of the café.
Photos: Travelguide Marrakech