No visit to Animal Kingdom is complete without a stop at Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery in Harambe Village.
Located near the almost always hoppin’ entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris, Kusafiri has held plenty of little surprises for us in the past. Though it’s literally just a hole-in-the-wall operation, this simple setting has been known to play host to some big name treats.
My recent visit was inspired by the rumors I’d heard regarding some menu changes, and lo and behold, that was indeed the case. It looks like Kusafiri is joining the list of Animal Kingdom eateries preparing to be part of an all-day park once the Rivers of Light spectacular brings evening entertainment to Animal Kingdom later this spring.
As the resident coffee shop and bakery of Harambe Village, you would likely expect to see morning grabs like coffee and pastries on the menu. But the options have expanded to include four new Paninis, bringing full lunch or dinner options to Kusafiri for the first time.
Time to step up to the window and have a look!
I’ll start by noting that, though there are new sandwich additions, the snack options have dwindled down a bit. But they’ve held onto some standbys like croissants, Elephant Ears and Warm Colossal Cinnamon Rolls. (And don’t forget you can still find the Tree of Life and Cotton-top Tamarin Cupcakes in several other locations around the park. But no more cupcakes at Kusafiri… at least for now.)
Now topping the menu is the brand new selection of four Paninis! Choices are a Roast Beef and Cheddar Panini, a Ham and Swiss Panini, an Herb-roasted Turkey Sandwich and a Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich.
I thought they all sounded fairly promising, so I asked a Cast Member for her thoughts, and she advised me to try the roast beef and turkey options, noting that they are the most popular sandwiches on the list so far.
Sounded good to me! First up: the Roast Beef and Cheddar. Like all the other options, it’s served with a side of House-made Curry-spiced Chips (more on those later!).
Presented on ciabatta bread, this panini is indeed served warm, but you won’t spy any of those grill marks typically associated with a panini.
Tillamook cheddar cheese is laid under the roast beef. It’s a nice step up from the standard, and I could absolutely tell the difference.
But the best feature is the roast beef itself, which is fire-roasted, providing some terrific flavor.
The photo below gives you a better idea of the amount of meat packed into the sandwich, which is given even more of a flavor boost by a horseradish-sherry vinaigrette offering a nice little kick, but nothing too overpowering.
A word of advice on our next option, the Herb-roasted Turkey Sandwich: don’t be fooled by the fact that this one is listed under Paninis, because it is neither heated nor pressed.
It is, however, served on seven-grain bread, which I found to be nicely fresh.
Topping the roasted turkey are UglyRipe® Tomatoes (which, if you’ve seen them whole, are actually sort of cool-looking) and leaf lettuce. While the turkey was good, I couldn’t help but wish there was a little more of it.
The Nueske’s bacon, though, provided a highlight, lending its signature smoked flavor to pair with the turkey.
Though the overall freshness of the turkey sandwich helped it along a great deal, I have to say it was a bit bland when stacked up against the roast beef.
And finally, even though this wasn’t one of more the popular sandwiches recommend to me, I wanted to scope out the pick for our vegetarian readers: the Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich. Like the turkey sandwich, this one is not served warm.
The bread certainly doesn’t look like a typical focaccia at first glance; you’ll notice the lack of herbs on top. With a closer look, though, you’ll find them actually baked into the bread! And after tasting all three breads, I can say the focaccia roll was my favorite.
The UglyRipe® heirloom tomatoes are HUGE, and they taste pretty fantastic.
The arugula topping the mozzarella gave the sandwich a bit of peppery zest.
A layer of delicious pesto aioli is the final touch here, rounding out the sandwich quite nicely.
So, yeah, overall I’ve gotta give some thumbs up here, with the main nods going to the roast beef and the tomato-and-mozz. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out what I actually found to be the tastiest treat of all: the House-Made Curry-Spiced Chips served with each sandwich!
Truth: Disney house-made chips pretty much always rock, but the curry-flavored seasoning somehow managed an improvement to this classic (for those of us who dig curry, anyhoo!). Seriously, if these were ever sold as a side item on their own, I might just have a new go-to snack at Animal Kingdom.
The panini and sandwich selection at Kusafiri definitely adds a nice option when you’re looking for a quick-service entree, but maybe some of the pickier eaters in your group aren’t quite up to the somewhat more adventurous fare in the nearby Harambe Market. I thought these were pretty high quality sandwiches; fresh and tasty, showing a little extra effort for counter service fare.
Now, there IS the issue of seating. You will find a couple (and I literally mean just a couple) of tables by Kusafiri, but seating is super limited, and these aren’t exactly grab-and-go eats. So I would suggest carrying your panini over to Dawa Bar (there are lots of tables in the area outside of the bar seating) or the lovely seating area behind Tamu Tamu Refreshments. And while you’re there, save a few of those curry-spiced chips for me, would ya?
Which of the new paninis would you most like to try? Please let us know with a comment below!