Unique brews from a Vietnamese powerhouse to camel-ccinos
This region’s relationship with coffee goes back centuries; some even argue that the sought-after liquid delight originates from Yemen (although Ethiopia also stakes a claim) and Dubai's own passion for the brew is such, it’s even stuck the dallah on the back of the dirham. This week, Dubai's annual shrine to caffeine returns, with the International Coffee and Tea Festival held at the Meydan Grandstand from November 6-9. So what better time to explore the city's most unique coffees, from gold-dusted to organic takeaways.
Al Bayt Lounge ‘The Palace gold cappuccino’ must be one of Dubai’s most ostentatious options for a caffeine hit. This classic cappuccino is dusted with 22 carat gold (and comes with a selection of lavender, rose and pistachio flavoured macaroons on the side). Dhs80. Palace Downtown Dubai Hotel, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 428 7806).
Armani/Lounge This venue serves a selection of coffee created by local Dubai roastery Orbis Coffee. It includes the Indian Monsoon Malabar, a coffee which is aged over two monsoon seasons in open-sided sheds to allow access to the monsoon winds. The coffee is then roasted in small batches to order in Dubai. From Dhs30 (espresso). Armani Hotel Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai (04 888 3444).
Baker & Spice Head to the Souk Al Bahar branch, voted Time Out Dubai’s best café of 2013 no less, and you could be in for an artistic treat with your cappuccino. Ask for Henji, aka barista Henjerson Roldan, who has recently released his artistic prowess on the humble cappuccino, creating images of the Burj Khalifa, faces and flowers in the foam. At no extra cost, Henji will jazz up your cappuccino on request and even make bespoke coffee art designs. Dhs19 for a cappuccino. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 425 2240).
Café Bateel Traditional to the Emirates is the style of coffee known as ‘qahwa’. At Café Bateel you can sample this traditional cup with the full Dubai experience. The coffee is sourced from small-scale producers in Yemen, lightly roasted and blended with cardamom and saffron, made to highly traditional methods and served in a dallah pot, with rhutab (‘fresh’) dates. Dhs23. Marina Walk, Dubai Marina (04 368 4696). Other locations: The Dubai Mall, Festival City, Mirdif City Center, DIFC, Dubai Media City, Jumeirah.
Hanoi Café We’re giving the traditional Vietnamese-style coffee served at Hanoi Café the people’s vote for Dubai’s most highly caffeinated variation, since it has managed to keep us up all night on every encounter, and yet we still go back for more. This hefty brew is created with an old-fashioned version of the cold-drip, directly over the cup. We like it best served black, but you can also opt for a Vietnamese-style snifter of condensed milk. Dhs14. Gold Crest Executive Building, Cluster C, JLT (04 431 3099).
Elia It’s not all about the Middle East or indeed the Mediterranean – Greece also has its own traditional style of brewing coffee. Award-winning Elia, one of Dubai’s very few Greek restaurants, serves a typical Greek brew in two styles. ‘Greek coffee’, similar to Arabic coffee, is finely ground and brewed in a pot called a ‘briki’ and Greek-style iced-coffee or ‘fredo cappuccino’, made with espresso poured over shaved iced, and topped with a cold milk foam. You can also find both of these made in a thoroughly Greek style at JLT hotspot Public Café. Greek coffee from Dhs16. Elia, Majestic Hotel Tower, Bur Dubai (04 501 2690). Public Café, Lake Plaza, Cluster T, JLT (04 451 9670).
Jones the Grocer The café marks one of the few options in Dubai where you can sample coffee made with new and old-school brewing methods, such as the syphon, which has become fashionable at various brew bars in Japan. The single-origin selection includes coffees from Bolivia, Rwanda, Guatemala and Honduras. While the end results have come under some criticism, this cup of coffee is perhaps more about the theatrical display in seeing it made, since it looks like something out of science lab than a café. Dhs19 per cup. Al Manara, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 346 6886).Greek coffee from Dhs16. Elia, Majestic Hotel Tower, Bur Dubai (04 501 2690). Public Café, Lake Plaza, Cluster T, JLT (04 451 9670).
Majlis Café While Dubai has its coffee traditions, it now also has its own new wave of coffee-making: the camel-ccino. You can try coffee beverages mixed into lattes, cappuccinos and more, at Majlis Café, which uses camel’s milk produced at a farm in Dubai. You can even team your cup with treats such as sandwiches, croissants, pralines and ice-cream, all made using camel milk in the recipe. Dhs20 for a cappuccino. Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (056 287 1522).
More Café The café brand imports its own ‘green’ coffee beans, which are then roasted at their own venue at the Al Murooj Rotana, although you can order in and buy More’s own coffee at branches across Dubai. There are seven varieties, including an espresso blend and single-origin coffees from Colombia, Sumatra and Guatemala. More is also currently working on importing organic green beans from Mexico, which it hopes to have in the café by the end of the year. Dhs40 for 250g. Various locations, including Gold & Diamond Park (04 323 4350), Al Murooj Rotana(04 343 3779) and The Dubai Mall (04 339 8934).
Ripe Store The organic farm shop has recently launched what must be Dubai’s most mobile organic coffee service. The new ‘drive-through’ is serving a selection of coffees made by the baristas from Roti Mum, using locally roasted and organic coffee from Raw. Dhs12 (Americano). Al Manara Road (04 370 0441).
International Coffee and Tea Festival The four-day festival showcases new products and developments in coffee and tea production. Highlights include the UAE Latte Art Championship and Barista Championship. Visitors can also pre-register for courses in coffee preparation (including free introductory courses in making espresso), roasting and grading. Free for visitors who pre-register, Dhs20 on the day. November 6-9. The Meydan Grand stand, next to Meydan Hotel, Nad Al Sheba www.coffeeteafest.com (04 335 5001).