Best coffee in Dubai
Wake up and smell the best coffee in Dubai 5 Comments
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Little did we know when we ran a piece on Dubai’s best coffee back in October that we’d get such an overwhelming response from readers. It seems you just can’t get enough coffee and wanted more, much more. But we shouldn’t have been too surprised – according to studies conducted by Euromonitor International, the UAE is the fastest-growing coffee market in the world, with coffee sales predicted to rise by 80 per cent between now and 2014. This growth is reflected globally: it’s thought that world coffee consumption in the past two years has grown from 150 million kilos (25 million 60kg bags) of coffee beans to nearly 7,860 million kilos (131 million 60kg bags). That’s a lot of coffee.
The UAE’s love affair with coffee heralds the drink’s return to grace in a region that played an integral part in its development. After being discovered in Ethiopia, coffee beans were first roasted and brewed in nearby Yemen before the Italians made the drink their own (and long before Seattle-based coffee chains discovered that the humble bean could make them billions). Read this, and try our faves.
How we did it
When visiting each of the 15 venues featured, we took a number of factors into consideration. First, the venue – coffee should be enjoyed in comfort, after all. Then we looked at the machines where possible: are they in good condition? Are they well maintained by the barista? Are they clean? We also kept a note of what brand of beans were used – Illy and Lavazza proved to be favourites here in Dubai, but then there are independent brands such as RAW that create custom blends on-site (meaning fresher beans for better taste). But great coffee beans will only make good coffee if a barista knows what he or she is doing – you could even go as far to say that the barista is the most important part of the process. We noted the amount of coffee a barista used for each shot of espresso (it should be about eight grams), how they tamped (compressed) the grounds (for the record, you should apply 15-20kg of pressure), how they poured the milk for a cappuccino, and speediness of service (coffee loses taste every minute it’s left standing on the counter). Last, but not least, we judged the coffee on its taste and presentation.
Armani/Peck: Meticulous in the way it’s all put together, Peck oozes class. Our cappuccino is smooth and ever-so-slightly acidic, the full-flavoured brew confident and proud. There’s genuine attention to detail and a glimpse behind the counter reveals an almost painstaking amount of preparation (the barista even discarded a prepared cup that had waited a minute too long). The coffee is served with a short story about the sourcing of beans and reassurances about the quality. We love the Armani-engraved sugar cubes too. Bravo.
Best for: power coffee
Dhs35. Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa (04 888 3444).
Armani/Dubai Caffé: Sitting in Armani’s café, you’ll be surrounded by designer clothes, including those on the clientele – we feel a little under-dressed in our shorts. Luckily, the coffee is as impressive as the handbags: our cappuccino is made from well-roasted rich Illy coffee and comes with a perfectly tight crema, while the mocha latte is served with a rich cocoa milk – truly moreish. A perfect experience: that is, until the bill arrives. ‘Twenty-eight bucks for a cappuccino?’ we exclaim (in a rather unfashionable manner).
Best for: posh coffee
Dhs28. The Dubai Mall (04 339 8396).
Il Caffè Di Roma: These guys must be experts – at least that’s what you’d believe after seeing the amount of coffee being served here. Every table is packed and there’s coffee being poured in the gallons. Sitting outside, we’re not sure what takes precedence here: the people-watching or the coffee. On that note, our cappuccino and espresso are both decent without being spectacular. The coffee is strong, really strong, and there’s a welcome hint of spice that somehow manages to creep in. It’s not piping hot when served, but it’s still okay. Nonetheless, this won’t be everyone’s idea of a perfect coffee as it’s a smash-and-grab environment. If you’re after something strong and bold, fight for a spot at this ever-popular place.
Best for: people-watching on The Walk.
Dhs16. The Walk at JBR (04 437 0228).
Le Pain Quotidien: We’ll be the first to admit that the coffee at Le Pain Quotidien can be hit and miss (last time we went it was lukewarm – urgh!), but when they get it right, there are few places we’d rather have our coffee. The Jumeirah Beach Residence outlet, for example, boasts beautiful outdoor seating – perfect for sitting, sipping and watching the world go by. What’s more, in true French style, Le Pain Quotidien serves its coffee in bowls. We’re sure it’s psychological, but it definitely tastes better this way…
Best for: sitting and sipping.
Dhs15. Rimal, Jumeirah Beach Residence, www.lepainquotidien.com (04 428 1305).
Carluccio’s: It’s hard to fault Carluccio’s. The staff are the first to tell you that they make good coffee (he actually said ‘enjoyable’) and after putting them to the test with a cappuccino and an espresso, we’re inclined to agree. Make your way through the mountains of hard-to-resist cookies to one of the many nicely lit tables and enjoy a good coffee: although there’s nothing spectacular about it, it’s a safe pick, you know what you’re getting and we’re confident you won’t be disappointed with the blend. It’s a charming, balanced cup, rich while sweet, and served in good time.
Best for: a post-lunch caffeine boost.
Dhs16. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Burj Khalifa (04 434 1320).
News Café: It’s said that a blend of 50 different kinds of bean (100 per cent Arabica, no less) goes into the coffee at News Café. This certainly sounds a lot, but whatever the blend, the resulting brew is pretty good. It should also be noted that News Café only serves Illy and there are plenty of varieties to choose from – four kinds of espresso, macchiato, frappe and even filter coffee.
Best for: mixing coffee and business.
Dhs22. Al Sondos Suites by Le Méridien, Deira (04 294 9797).
Freshii: Anyone familiar with Freshii will be pleased to know that the franchise pays as much attention to the quality of its coffee as it does its wraps, salads and soups. Though the DIFC lunchtime favourite isn’t particularly conducive to sitting and mulling over a cup of cappuccino, it’s certainly one of the best places to pick up a coffee in the area. The baristas are meticulous and attentive, and on our visit it was evident they take good care of their espresso machines. They’re also able to get the best out of the Lavazza beans they use, resulting in a creamy, aromatic coffee that’s good to take away with you.
Best for: coffee on the go.
Dhs10. DIFC (04 327 8083).
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