We love Taipei, a greyish city with dreary, grey buildings but so full of life and colour in its people, food and streets! Whether it’s a typical breakfast of youtiao (fried crullers) dipped in hot, frothy doujiang (soymilk) or getting lost in the maze of endless shelves at the 24-hour Eslite Bookstore, we never have a dull moment in the Taiwanese capital.

No surprise then even the coffee experience here is one step above the rest. There are cafés everywhere — serving dainty desserts or for your pets to socialize with other furry friends — but quite a number are specialty coffee bars with passionate baristas dedicated to their craft.

Rufous Coffee belongs to the latter category.

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Caldo Cafe, Taipei

Sometimes coffee alone isn’t enough to make a café visit an experience to remember. For a little more, head to Caldo Café where devil-dark brews are paired with angel-light soufflés. Caldo Café is hidden in a small back-alley near Fuxing South Road; the Indian restaurant opposite confirms you’ve got the right place.

Enter and order your soufflé first as it takes a good 20 minutes to prepare. Their original soufflé carries a light hint of vanilla whereas their green tea soufflé has the deep aroma of good quality matcha.

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Sometimes the past has to be forgotten for a bit before we remember its worth.

Located in Dadaocheng, once a major trading port in Taiwan, the A.S. Watson & Co building (named after the pharmacy it used to house, the first Watson’s on the island) is a vanguard of the historical neighbourhood. Nearby are the Yongle Market, famous for the fabric stalls (all that remains the former centre of the island’s textile industry) and Dihua Street’s busy shops selling Chinese medicinal herbs, incense and Taiwanese tea.

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The barista before me reminds me of Daria from the 1997 Gen-X MTV anime and also of Neil Gaiman’s sweet goth chick version of Death. She has a tattoo of a playing card spade on her left hand. It could be me but I swear the spade shifts just a little as she brews our coffee.

They say you can read tea leaves, the dregs at the bottom of your teacup when you’ve had your last sip. I can’t but wonder if you could do same with a tattoo of a playing card spade. I’m rambling, of course. It’s probably just the lighting.

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