Say coffee and one thinks about Italian and Parisian cafes and American coffee chains. But not many know that coffee would not have reached Europe or the Americas if it were not for the Middle East.it was discovered in the 13th century and later on its use spread to Egypt and Yemen and had reached to the rest of the Middle East, Persia, Turkey, and northern Africa by the 16th century. From there it spread to Europe and to the Americas. In fact the word coffee is etymologically born from the Arabic qahwa.
Coffee plays an important role in the Arabic culture. In the UAE and in Dubai, visitors will often be offered coffee, as well as tea when attending a business meeting or visiting someone at home. It is considered rude to decline coffee as offering it is a symbol of hospitality. Traditionally the coffee is poured from a brass pot with a long spout called the dallah into a small cup called the finyal.
If in a traditional Arabic Coffee Shop one must keep the following points in mind:
- If you give the cup back to the server without shaking it, they will pour you another cup of qahawa.
- The right hand is used for drinking, eating and even offering food or drinks.
- You may need to be specific. Just saying coffee means you will be offered Arabic coffee. If you say Nescafe, American coffee will be served to you.
Most places serve dates and a glass of water along with the not filtered or percolated but boiled) and served with a spice, usually cardamom. It is never served with milk. Arabic coffee is however different from Turkish coffee which is thicker and stronger.
In most Arabic joints, tea is offered black and with sugar. It is called the Sulemani and usually the tea bag is left in the cup so that one can make it as strong as one wishes. One can also ask for the mint tea – basically a Sulemani served with mint leaf – which is truly refreshing
01. Basta Art Café
Al Fahidi Street, Bur Dubai
Phone +971 4 353 5071
Walking through the Bastakiya and enjoying the architecture and art is thirsty work, which is why one is extremely thankful for the Basta Art Café. Not only does it serve good food, it also feeds the senses. Its main seating area is outside in a courtyard under the shade of a huge tree away from the din of the busy alleys outside. During summer one can sit indoors with its artistic collection of knick-knacks. The menu offers a range of healthy dishes including shakes, salads and special Basta sandwiches and of course, a host of herbal teas and yummy desserts.
02. Cafe Ceramique
Jumeirah Beach Road
Also available in Festival Centre and Mall of the Emirates
Phone +971 4 344 7331
You may wonder why anyone would want to spend time painting pre-prepared ceramic goodies while having coffee. But until you have tried the two together or tried enjoying a cup while travelling with little kids you will not understand how ingenious and soul-satisfying the idea is. The ceramic items may range from bowls, coasters, cups, animals and mini Burj Al Arabs or Burj Khalifa of varying sizes. It is a great place to keep the kids occupied while enjoying a coffee and dish from the extensive menu, offering everything from sandwiches and bagels to crepes and steak. Just make sure that if you are doing this you give the cafe team at least a few days to glaze your work and return it to you. If you are in a bit of hurry then there is always the option of taking the unglazed work with you and getting the glaze done when you get back home.
03. Armani Caffe
Mall of the Emirates & The Dubai Mall
Phone +971 4 341 0591
This contemporary European style cafe is great for the food and the coffee. The food is healthy and light and includes everything from salads to pizzas. The coffee brews are high end and then there are the delicious choices at the deli counter and the exclusive Giorgio Armani chocolates. The branches in the Mall of the Emirates and The Dubai Mall, like its counterparts in Milan, London, Paris, Boston, Sao Paolo and Buenos Aires, attracts the fashion conscious. While the café’s staff are warm and friendly and not in the least bit judgmental, you may want to dress up a bit so that you don’t feel out of place amidst the other well-dressed and well-heeled patrons.
04. The One Deli
The ONE, Near Jumeirah Mosque
Phone +971 4 425 2240
Located in The ONE furniture store, The One Deli’s ‘deli-style’ dishes include homemade muesli, gourmet veggies, fritters and other starters, sandwiches and specials like fillets. The deli also has a lovely range of cakes. A combination of these can be ordered as a set along with one of their creative drinks ranging from masala chais to juices like the watermelon chili cooler. The service is friendly and informed and the ambience truly relaxing.
05. The Lime Tree Café & Kitchen
Jumeirah Beach Road, China Garden Courtyard, Ibn Battuta Mall
Al Quoz 1 (near Times Square Centre)
Media City (Opposite Royal Mirage Hotel)
Phone +971 4 349 8498
This Dubai institution is popular with Dubai’s expat crowd for its healthy salads, massive sandwiches, indulgent puddings and mocktails. A relaxed nook in a Jumeirah villa it is a haven for café lovers. The Lime Tree Cafe breakfasts are legendary too. The cafe now has three additional cafes at Ibn Battuta, Al Quoz area and Media City. The portions at this cafe are generous and the taste delicious. The cafe rotates its range of fresh salads on a daily basis so there is something new to try every single day. For the health nut there is the ‘Power Salad’ with beetroot, Bulgar, sprouts and pumpkins seeds. The Lime Tree Cafe & Kitchen also accommodates guests with dietary intolerances, ensuring that there is a selection of wheat free, dairy free and nut free items included on the menu.
Menu highlights: Homemade Lime Tree muesli pots with berry caulis and yoghurt; the cuisine is a completely cooked breakfast which is served with organic free range eggs, whole-meal toast, (gluten free bread also available) tomato, chicken sausage, mushrooms, hash brown, and beef bacon. Lemongrass chili and lime chicken skewers with Asian dipping sauce; the Bombay spiced chicken skewers with a cucumber and mint yoghurt; the triple chocolate brownie, and carrot cake.
06. Jones the Grocer
Al Manara, Sheikh Zayed Road
Phone +971 4 346 6886
Jones the Grocer has opened to a great reception in Dubai, thanks to its gourmet food and the in-store cafe with its constantly updated menu, which serves up a healthy meal with an Australian touch. The cafe with its contemporary design and long communal tables create a warm atmosphere – perfect for relaxing over a cup of tea or coffee. The aromatic Jones the Grocer coffee blend compete for attention with the aroma of the single origin beans.
Its teas range from classic English breakfast to Japanese Genmaicha green tea to minty Artic fire. Jones the Grocer is also a great place to enjoy meal platters, which are also available as takeaway boxes and which typically contains a freshly made baguette of your choice, accompanied by a salad, drink and light dessert. And if you are there, make it a point to try out their famous wagyu beef burger and freshly made pie. And if you love cheese, the Jones the Grocer Fromagerie is a dream comes true as one can create a personalized cheese board with marinated antipasto, seafood and charcuterie, accompanied by bread, crackers and condiments.
07. Laduree Dubai
The Dubai Mall
Phone +971 4 339 8520
Staying true to its Parisian tea salon roots, Laduree Dubai stays focused on providing one the opportunity to enjoy a cup of tea in elegant surroundings. A visit to Laduree Dubai will not be complete without trying their famous Macaron – those small and round cakes which are crispy from out and smooth from inside. The pastries available here are to die for.
08. Elements Art Cafe
Phone +971 4 324 4252
This colorful cafe is ideal for those who want to while away the late hours at some place other than a bar. With its shisha terrace and live sports telecast, there is something for everybody. There are also a variety of artwork, carvings and figurines to give one company. The menu itself is quite eclectic with everything from sandwiches to sushi on it.
09. Kozi Africafe
The Dubai Mall
Phone +971 4 330 8088
For a café experience with a difference, try Kozi Africafe. The menu has quite a few interesting African influenced choices, offering meat dishes, Savories and desserts. And the overall African vibe is further accentuated by the safari- style music and decor with African touches. This is the ideal place to put your feet up for a few hours after some serious mall trawling. The food is satisfying, but the highlight has to be the much advertised hot chocolate shots – a mini tea cup full of a thick drink with chunks of chocolate floating in it – rich, delicious and quite filling. And as far as coffee goes one is spoilt for choice, but definitely tries the strong Ethiopian blend.
10. MORE Cafe
Al Murooj, Al Garhoud, Gold and Diamond Park, Festival City, The Dubai Mall, Mirdif City Centre, Mall Of The Emirates and DIFC
Phone +971 4 283 0224
MORE Café is another Dubai coffee outlet that believes in supporting art and creativity. Its walls are hung with canvases by aspiring artists lending the cafe a vibrant vibe. Besides the art, the coffee at MORE is also worth a visit, with the finest hand-picked coffee beans from the mountains of Kenya, Sumatra, Guatemala, Brazil and Colombia. But MORE is more than just the sum of its coffee. Its menu lists some fine dishes. The chef sticks to the basics and does it well, be it the eggs Benedict or the salads and sandwiches. MORE is also good for a proper sit down lunch or dinner with delicious steaks and pastas on its list. The amount is quite generous which can easily be shared between two.
Beach Park Plaza Centre and Dubai Media City
Phone +971 4 342 8177
If you love your bagel then head to the aptly named Circle. It is home to the American staple H&H Bagels in flavors like cinnamon, onion, sesame seed and poppy seed. If you are confused of what to try first, then opt for the ‘Everything’ bagel which has a bit of everything from sesame to poppy seeds. Circle also has a tasty range of salads and sandwiches, besides a breakfast and dinner menu. Its classic smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers are a hit while its unusual lamb burger (meat on top of a bagel) it is delicious. Circle’s Smoothies and desserts are worth a second visit. The interiors of the Plaza Centre outlet are quite swanky with white walls and tables set off by the antique-style cushioned chairs.