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Discovering the best cafes in Dubai
Dubai’s coffee culture is diverse, ranging from shisha cafés serving powerful Turkish coffee that leaves a trace of gritty silt on your tongue (such as the popular Shakespeare and Co), to the mega franchises supplying time poor professionals with creamy cappuccinos. Here are some of the best cafés in Dubai to try on your next trip.
The Sum of Us: bakery, cafe, roastery
The emirate’s relationship with coffee is deeply rooted in the local culture; there’s even a Coffee Museum celebrating the emirate’s coffee history in Burj Dubai’s Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. The Emirati tradition, which you can experience at the Coffee Museum or by booking a “Cultural Meal” at the neighbouring Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, is to pour servings of a light coffee, delicately flavoured with cardamom, or perhaps saffron, from a copper coffee pot with a curved spout (dallah) into small handleless cups (fenjan). You will usually be poured several cups in succession.
But like the rest of the world, Dubai has fallen in love with the bean anew in recent years, with a string of coffee focused cafés giving rise to a new generation of coffee connoisseurs.
Cappuccino art at Jones the Grocer
If you had visited Dubai during the first decade of the 21 st century, you would have found that More Café and The Lime Tree Café (both home-grown brands that still have several cafés in Dubai) were the most popular spots for a French press of decent coffee and a nice slice of freshly baked cake. Things have progressed.
Raw Coffee Company is a boutique roastery and café, located in a warehouse in the industrial area of Al Quoz, which has been supplying cafés in Dubai with speciality coffee since 2007. It won’t be easy to find if you’re new to the city, but it’s worth the effort for a cup of coffee from Raw’s brew bar, prepared by one of its expert baristas, or a bag or two of beans roasted on the premises.
The Common Grounds cafe
Australian brand Jones the Grocer arrived on Sheikh Zayed in 2009, with a brew bar manned by skilled baristas keen to educate the masses about single origin beans and the pour-over brewing method. Jones is still one of the best places in town for freshly brewed coffee. It now has three Dubai branches, all on Sheikh Zayed Road.
The new kids on the block include Australian chef Tom Arnel and Spanish entrepreneur Sergio Lopez, otherwise known as Tom and Serg. Arnel and Lopez are the proprietors of Tom & Serg, a vast, 200-seater café in an Al Quoz warehouse that serves the best long black in Dubai and has become a magnet for the city’s media and creative industries. Also worth a visit are The Sum of Us, a bakery, café and roastery near Dubai World Trade Centre, and Common Grounds, a café in Mall of the Emirates.
Written by Gareth Rees