Kudu, a brand new coffeehouse at 4 Vanderhorst St., (off King Street, 20 yards from the old library) makes for an ideal meeting place — or a solitary refuge. Owner John Saunders was born and raised in Africa by his Lowcountry-born missionary parents. Recently, he journeyed to Walterboro to visit his parents and decided to stay on. Removed from his roots, John created this serene oasis to reflect the spirit of his adopted continent — in part, no doubt, so he could surround himself in some semblance of his beloved homeland, plus replicate the kind of coffeehouses he frequented in Africa. Earthy colors, natural materials, African wall hangings and music all induce an enveloping warmth and mellow ambiance. The shop features African coffees and teas as well as some African foods plus some sweet treats from the English mother country (and American pastries and bagels). There’s plenty of reading materials and table games, plus assorted African handicrafts to examine or purchase.

John proudly proclaims that Africa, after all, is the birthplace of coffee (you mean, it’s not the fields of Juan Valdez?). Keeping with the African theme, the house blend is a mixture of an Ethiopian variety and two different Kenyan varieties. The Zimbabwe coffee comes directly from an in-country grower. (I drank a cafe au lait. I didn’t find out which bean I was imbibing, but I do know it tasted delicious and delightfully mellow.) Lastly, in this user-friendly establishment there are places for quiet study, wifi hookups, and a piano available to whomever wishes to play.

By the way, the kudu is a six-foot tall, majestically-horned antelope populating the vast grasslands of South Africa. It seems that what the buffalo was to American Indians, the kudu is to South Africans: for the few still without cellphone service, the horns are relied upon for heralding important get-togethers, the meat is used in foods like the ever-popular antelope jerky, the heads make for handsome wall hangings, and so on. Hours are blessedly long: Mon.-Sat. 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. 853-7186. — Roy Freedman