Gimel Organic

Driving by CCS off Cherni Vrah, I noticed this interesting little shop with a wooden facade and what seemed to be the word “organic” written on the side. I made a mental note of Gimel Organic and visited the shop on my next visit to Sofia, what I found was rather impressive, not because of the assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables, packaged goods and wine, but they had two parking spaces outside reserved for customers.

The Gimel brand is quite recognizeable. You will find most if not all of the bio/organic shops that sell fresh fruits and vegetables carry Gimel’s brand. The offer a huge assortment of fruits, vegetables and herbs. According to their website they are the largest produce of greenhouse cucumbers and tomatoes in Bulgaria. Their products are also available throughout Europe.
This shop is the first for the brand and it features the entire spectrum of what an organic shopper wants, except meat. Unlike most shops they focus on the fresh more so than the non-perishable.
They also have freshly made food items on hand like these cream soups, which are prepared daily and freshly squeezed juices.
I think the location will really cement this shop with organic shoppers that live on the outskirts of the city and Lozenetz. It is a unique shop, but I have some questions about the source of the food, which are primarily grown abroad. This fact raises a larger debate, what is more important to you local, clean and seasonal or year-round availability and certified organic? I personally subscribe to the former rather than the latter, but regardless this rising level of consciousness is trend that I see continuing into the foreseeable future.

23 Arsenalski Blvd./бул. Арсеналски 23
Sofia, Bulgaria 
понеделник до петък (Mon – Fri) – 8:30 – 20:30 
събота (Sat) – 10:00 – 20:30 неделя (Sun) – 10:00 – 19:00

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Domani – Coffee Roasting Boutique

I have never been much of a coffee drinker. Yes, I like the occasional coffee house vanilla latte, but you won’t find me waking up with a steaming cup of joe. Last time I was in New York, I met up with a friend of mine in NYC that is a coffee buff. She knew that I like my coffee sweet, well because it is so bitter and astringent, but she took me to places where the milk was steamed to perfection, which brought out the natural sweetness in the milk, so I didn’t need to add sugar! One of the places that she took me to RBC has since closed, but a fantastic cup nonetheless. After I returned from the US, she responded to a question on EGL’s Facebook page about the next culinary trends in Bulgaria… her suggestion was coffee roasting boutiques. Well Aneta… you called it! Domani, located in Lozenetz opened a year and a half ago.

Dimitar and Veneta moved to New Zealand in 2003 and opened Veni Coffee, which they owned and operated till 2010. Dimitar speaks with reverence when he describes the coffee culture in Auckland and  NZ in general. Upon returning to Bulgaria, he hoped to recreated his success and started Domani: Coffee Roasting Boutique. When I asked him about Sofia and the coffee shops like Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Onda, he explained that the coffee culture in Europe is dominated by big brands like Lavazza and Illy, but they know nothing of the roast or the beans on the label.

There are two main varieties of coffees; Arabica and Robusta. These two species of coffee have different characteristics and qualities. Arabica, which originated in the mountains of Ethiopia is a prized coffee that has been cultivated for over a 1000 years. But not all Arabica beans are created equal. The better quality beans are grown at a higher altitude, which result in a harder bean, but also makes the harvest difficult and therefore increasing the price. Robusta is not without its own merits, despite being considered the lesser quality bean it has double the amount of caffeine as Arabica. Many Italian espresso blends include high-quality Robusta, which help to create the cream that forms on top of the espresso. The Robusta is easier to grow, so it is cheaper to produce and usually is found in low quality coffee.

Domani uses 100% high-quality Arabica. They roast single variety beans or create custom blends. All of the roasting is done onsite using a Diedrich roaster, which Dimitar ordered specially from Idaho. In the past 10 years, he has roasted 20,000 batches of beans, using over 30 different varieties of Arabica. Novice coffee roasters in Sofia have visited his shop to observe his techniques, which he will gladly share. The novice roaster was shocked at Dimitar’s methods… during the roasting process, he never looked at the beans to check the color or doneness… When he asked Dimitar why he didn’t look and then he explained that he didn’t need to it was something he could feel, he just knew when the beans were done. A chef doesn’t need to watch his food cook… they just know.

I had two coffees while I was there. I asked them to surprise me and give me something that I would like; I explained my shortcomings in regards to coffee. The first espresso was a special blend that was very complex and strong. The second one was a single variety, which was completely different. It was milder and less dynamic, but equally good. In the end, I think I preferred the first on.

Domani is not a coffee shop in the traditional sense. It is a place to enjoy and learn. Every customer is treated to individual attention and given a private tasting. They didn’t know that I am a blogger or that I would write about their shop, they just wanted to give me a great coffee experience. Dimitar’s wealth of knowledge on the subject of coffee is an asset to a beginner or experienced connoisseur.

I hope to organize a coffee tasting and roasting demonstration soon. Please check on EGL’s Facebook page for the event and forthcoming details.

Dimitar Hajikotzev St. 4B/ ул. Димитър Хаджикоцев 4Б
Lozentetz, Sofia 1421
Tel: 02 441 1250 Mob: 0884 167 984
Hours: Mon – Fri 9:00 – 19:00
Sat – 9:00 – 17:00, Sun – CLOSED