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Sytris Coffee-Lounge: The Young Professional’s Harem


Sytris Osu Oxford StreetFocus on ‘young professional’ and you’ll be fine on the harem bit (you naughty naughty reader). But it is really a get-away space, this Sytris coffee-lounge. It is an unusual name, but it is also an unusual space in a zone that is known for its formidable and sometimes perturbing cluster of premium brands, names, and services – the Oxford Street of the Osu, of Accra.

I recall describing it to my best friend in what was definitely an exercise of imagination (she is so particular about details), and I will attempt to share it with you: entering Sytris is like indulging in your first ever fruit-burst bubblegum. Right after the tinkle of the wind chime at door greets your entry, you are assailed with the gifts and souvenirs section, then immediately after by the rich variety of magazines they have on sale by the cash counter to your right …and your left. As you force yourself to casually saunter onwards so as not to appear like a Johnny-Just-Come, the cozy children’s books section captures your attention, and your foot freezes in mid-air and refuses to work. Never mind that you do not have children, nor the budget to buy a book for your favourite niece, nor the intention to even look at children’s books. You find yourself wheeling over there like a New Age zombie, stumbling a little at the edge of the story-motif carpeting lining the floor, in uncertainty over whether your shoes ought to come off or stay on. But oh well, on you go and soon find yourself looking through the kid’s reads and other monthly magazines and comics, asking yourself, why did I never get all these to read when I was a kid?

Finally, your grown-up self floats back into your body, and you feel the call of the rest of the room (a.k.a. the great hall). Ahead to your left is a wide expanse of book shelves on wheels, filled with the book-candy (lots of it); to your right is the coffee-lounge, starting with this absolutely appealing sink-into-me set of sofas that most bookworms and small meet-up groups call home. It is semi-detached from the dining area that follows it, but you wouldn’t notice it unless you’re told … or a nit-picker. But that fact quickly evaporates from your mind as you notice the high-bar area right beyond the dining space area, which permits you to perch on that barstool and gaze down like a god/dess onto the busy, sometimes chaotic hustle and bustle below on the street. Aaah, home. Harem. Haven. Call it what you want, but it hits the spot, and you’re taken.

2013-06-28 19.52.37Now, Al Green starts crooning in the background over the surround stereo system, dropping all those notes and falsetto moments like peppermint drops on your tongue on a hot day, and you just want to sing along with him, “I’m so tired of being alone, I’m so tired of being on my own, aaaaaaaah….”. Of course, none of us here at the lounge will mind, because we’ll be right up there on that high with you. Those tapping away at their laptops, blogging and catching up online, those taking a moment away from it all to have a quiet healthy lunch/brunch, or to work, or meet up with friends and colleagues for an hour or two; then in the evening, those who come to grab a cocktail or bite and huddle over at the high bar area or the sofa section and gaze out onto the headlight-lit street in a semi-surreal state of peace of mind; or music-infused happy hour moments.

More soul music and afro fusion pieces keep the atmosphere vibing. The menu rings with drinks, cocktails, bites, bakes, and grills. The books on the other side of the room fill you with an awe only books waiting to be explored can, and the savvy people strolling in and out assure you that the outside world may suck sometimes, but inside the coffee-lounge, all is momentarily right with the world once again.
Sytris Coffee-Lounge & Bookshop …. can you see it now?

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