A speciality coffee craze is sweeping Dubai. Don’t know your cortado from your babyccino? Read on…
Words: Zaheda Muntazir
According to the Speciality Coffee Association of America, any coffee that scores above 80 points on a 100 point scale (when evaluating factors such as physical defects and taste) is a speciality one. Generally, it is grown at higher altitudes than other coffee beans, and with much attention from the farmers. The green beans are then directly sold to roasters or premium coffee traders.
Speciality coffee is delivered to the shop within a certain time frame after roasting to make sure of its freshness and quality.
So, why else should you try it?
Kemal Rashad, previous barista at notable Dubai coffee shops including Espresso Lab and Stomping Grounds, explains: “Normal coffee tastes bitter, and there is nothing interesting about it. Once I tried speciality coffee it hooked me because it has that sweetness, that fruitiness. It was something I had never tried before!”
Here are some of our recommendations for a great cup of coffee:
The Espresso Lab
Founded by Emarati businessman Ibrahim Al Mallouhi, The Espresso Lab is our recommendation for some of the best coffee in Dubai. He says that passion is what makes a great cup. That and a combination of good-quality green beans and roasting.
As Espresso Lab’s beans are freshly roasted, Al Mallouhi explains, “the flavour is at its optimal taste, lively and sweet. Fresh roasted coffee also protects the integrity of the coffee bean. You don’t taste the rancid bitterness of bulk roasted coffee that has been sitting in a warehouse.”
The Espresso Lab offers seasonal speciality coffee at certain times of the year. Al Mallouhi recommends the Ethiopian “Yigracheffe” bean, also known as the King of Flavour. Be warned if you need a bit of sugar in your coffee, as the Espresso Lab doesn’t have any (even if you ask for it)!
The Espresso Lab has recently relocated to D3, and although the new shop features modern and sophisticated decor, we have fond memories of the beautiful garden at its former place in a Jumeirah villa.
7.30am-9pm. Unit 8, Building 7, Dubai Design District.
Looking for a quick (yet delicious) cup of coffee to take to work? Head to Brew, a cozy shop in Jumeirah Road. Although Brew is not great to sit in for long periods (due to its tiny size), baristas will come out and take orders at your car. Like Espresso Lab, the coffee beans vary depending on what they have in store, including Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. Brew’s coffee beans come from The Barn Coffee Roasters.
7am-11pm. Jumeirah Road, Umm Suqeim 2. 04 331 2333.
If you’re looking for a breakfast place with delicious food and good coffee, head to Stomping Grounds. You can even see the machine that roasts the beans in-house.
The converted villa doesn’t only serve great coffee, it’s also the perfect place to hang out with your friends! We recommend the Baked Egg (AED 49) boat for breakfast. If you are in the mood for dessert, Stomping Grounds also has some mouthwatering waffles and pancakes.
7.30am-11pm. Jumeirah 1. 04 344 4451.
Other speciality coffee shops we recommend include Mokha 1450 in Al Safa (04 321 6455), named after the historic city in Yemen where coffee is rumoured to have originated and Cafe Rider (04 321 4411) a quirky coffee shop located in a warehouse in Al Quoz, where as the name suggests, you can buy both coffee and custom motorcycles.