Blue pill or Red pill? That infamous question asked by Morpheus in the first matrix movie is arguably the movie’s most iconic moment. In this scene, Morpheus asks Neo if he would rather take the red pill and experience a new world or take the blue pill and continue to live in his false reality.
Such was the experience of walking into Cafe Neo (yes, I brought it up because of the “Neo” reference). On one hand, I would never understand the coffee culture and maybe my ignorance is bliss but what if? Just what if there is something special behind these see-through doors and coffee smell? Hence my proverbial red or blue pill conundrum was born.
For all the buzz and hype, Cafe Neo does deliver on its ambiance. The coffee shop typically has a standard set-up across its various locations. Small shop, subtle music (typically of the Asa variety), decent but not so confy chairs, with bright lighting and a slightly dimmer backdrop. The package obviously comes complete with a tender who knows too much about coffee, sometimes to worrying degrees. However, arguably the most remarkable thing about the Cafe Neo experience is the Overwhelming Coffee Smell. When I say Overwhelming, I mean Overwhelming. This is apparently intended, as Large markings on the wall literally read I SMELL COFFEE.
Cafe Neo obviously believes the coffee smell is part of its appeal and whether or not it is will be largely determined by your preference. If you are a Caffeine aficionado you’d probably feel like you just entered Coffee Heaven, however, if you just dropped by for a smoothie and you are not particularly a fan of coffee you may feel slightly nauseated.
Where Cafe neo seems to slack however is with the actual products, the Coffee. The coffee is decent but it doesn’t provide the out of the world experience some of their marketing would suggest. While this is a fair critique of virtually any brand in the world, after all, exaggerating your brand is the whole goal of advertising, it is still a bit disappointing.
I came into the Neo World (pun intended) expecting to be lured into the coffee culture, but i left scratching my head to understand the real value proposition. Fair enough, it is safe to argue that coffees are not regular drinks that you take to “enjoy”, they offer more than that, hence the taste and overall quality isn’t as important. However, this argument would also mean the only thing Cafe Neo truly offers is a small cozy place for meet-ups and a bit of relaxation, with the coffee being the side attraction. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Cafe Neo has slowly become the Unofficial meeting place for Job interviews and after-work meetings. Maybe that is the real appeal of Cafe Neo. A serene environment for the more corporate meet-ups. An office outside the office. That really is as good as Cafe Neo gets because once you start to dig deeper into the actual product you may start to slowly get disappointed.
While I certainly applaud Neo for its ambition and interior decor, the drinks left little to be desired.
The irony, however, is if you really want to get in on the Coffe Culture (and you have decent money to spend), Cafe Neo remains your best bet because there really isn’t a lot of alternatives.
I will advise you at least check out Cafe Neo if you haven’t already, the ambiance is a break from the norm. I mean where else are you going to see your menu written with chalk on a board? (it really isn’t as weird as it sounds).
Note: The Cafe Neo shop reviewed are the shops at Sanusi Fafenwa V.I & Hebert Macaulay Way, Yaba.
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