I’m blessed to live in a vibrant city that thrives on specialty coffee, not to mention, constant sunshine, beaches, great food that will make a foodie tire themselves out and an eclectic mix of cultures – a true city of the 21stcentury. For me, it’s been wonderful since I moved here in September 2020. Nevertheless, with the ever-growing coffee culture witnessed by almost a monthly opening of a new coffee shop, it’s easy to forget the ones who started the journey and paved the way, so here we are, Mokha 1450.
You may have heard me mention the name before as I did an experiment to debunk the myth of freshly roasted coffee last year and needless to say, a rare coffee, an Ethiopian Geisha, won my test, whereby a coffee roasted months before tasted even better when brewed using a Hario V60. This coffee was sourced by Mokha 1450.
Initially located at Wasl Road but now with a branch on the famous Palm Jumeriah – yes the man-made island shaped like a palm tree in the middle of the Arabian sea off Dubai’s coastline – now you see why Dubai has a lot to offer, indeed a city of dreams, BUT back to coffee….
The origin of the name traces back to Arabia itself, Mokha being the seaport in Yemen that started trading coffee back in….. 1450 – get the hint. So, Garfield Kerr, the owner, I presume wanted to launch his coffee shop in homage to the first city of coffee. However, that wasn’t enough, as Garfield with roots in Jamaica, ensued that his was the first company in the UAE to import Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee from Jamaica’s Coffee Industry Board (now known by its new acronym JACRA). In this connection, Mokha 1450 have always sourced “rare and exceptional” coffees – this terminology features on their coffee bags. In fact during the EXPO2020 from October 2021 to March 2022, Mokha 1450 served the most expensive coffee there as Jamacia Blue Mountain coffee is usually if not the most expensive, one of them.
Mokha 1450 is called a boutique in that their service is akin to being served in a fashion boutique – attention to the coffee but more so to the customer.
At their Palm Jumeirah branch, upon entering, you are given a menu that explains all the coffees on offer and if you are serious about coffee like me, you may take a while to go over the menu before placing your order. After which, they will offer further explanation if needed. At this branch, as they have more space, they will also prepare the coffee in front of you, just like in a boutique they will bring out the best clothes and explain the product, so too here.
I’ve been thrice, twice to the Palm Jumeirah branch and once to the Wasl branch. On my second visit to Palm, we met with Garfield and he offered us another delectable coffee – see below.
At the first World of Coffee event, Mokha 1450 experimented with serving you espresso in an iced cup – the coffee cup was placed in a freezer and they pulled the espresso shot into the freezing cup – the idea was to display a different array of flavours, more on highlighting the acidity.
So, why go? Well, if you love coffee and want to be served with attention to details by courteous staff and want to take your taste buds on a whirl, then visit. I must add that they have a delicious of array of cakes at their Palm branch and wife always orders the carrot cake, not to share…. Ha!
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll probably know that I start my day of with a daily cappuccino, which means that I need to start with a great espresso, which means that a great espresso machine is a must – after all, this is from coffee with love and with anything in life, if you don’t invest time and money (sometimes), you won’t get anything serious and long lasting back in return, so back to coffee.
The journey to a great espresso machine
When I was on the lookout for an espresso machine a few years back, after my Isomac went bust, I did a lot of research and decided that within my budget, I would buy a Rocket R58, which was available at one espresso shop in Vienna, where I lived back in 2014.
So, I made my way to the shop, funnily called Taste It, fully determined to walk away with a new espresso machine, having not had espresso coffee for about 2 weeks. I walked in and proudly announced my intentions, which I thought would bring a smile to the retailer – we are after all talking about a machine that would cost around EUR2,000 (AED8,000). I expressed that I wanted a machine that I wouldn’t have to replace for several years and that I felt that the Rocket R58 fitted my desires in this sense.
After walking over to the machine and showing me what I had only previously seen on websites, the retailer turned to me and said it was sold out and wouldn’t be available for about 1-2 months. I asked why and he mentioned China’s thirst for espresso had meant that the manufacturer, who made about 200 every month, sent about 1-2 to Vienna and the remaining to China. Before I burst out into tears like a child at a candy store being told you can look at the sweets but you can’t have any, the owner of the shop walked over to me and offered me a deal on a machine he believed was better than the Rocket R58.
Initially sceptical for 2 reasons – why is he trying to sell me a more expensive machine and why is he selling me a German machine (most are made in Italy). After carefully explaining some of the aesthetics of this new machine, I was tempted. To sweeten the offer he offered me a new espresso grinder, the Macap M4D – an electric grinder on demand machine and told me I could have the machine in 2-3 days, mentioning that I could return it in one month if I didn’t like it. BAM, I was sold or should I say, “sold to the lover of espresso”. He offered me some sort of brewing lesson but after my friend who accompanied me told him I used to own a coffee shop using a La Marzocco Linea 3 group, a few years back, he said I didn’t need it. Well ! I would hope so, after all I had already been writing about coffee for well over 10 years.
So, what espresso machine did I buy and have owned for almost 8 years now? (time flies when you’re brewing great espresso on a great machine) Here’s a snapshot from the manufacturer’s website –
PID-display for the individual temperature adjustment of both boilers
PID-display indicates the brewing time in seconds
Rotary pump (it means that when you brew espresso, the noise isn’t loud)
Wear-free rotary valves
High-end steam and hot water wands
Boiler and pump pressure gauges
Stainless steel boiler with 0.75 liter volume for espresso preparation
Steam and hot water boiler in stainless steel with a 2.0 litre volume
Steam boiler with separate on/off switch
In short, I wanted a dual boiler rotary pump machine with PID. A dual boiler means that I have a separate boiler for espresso and one for steaming milk.
Technically a PID means Proportional-Integral-Derivative but this really means you can control the temperature of the boiler. So, if you want to brew your espresso at 92-93C, ie. fruitier, more acidity, you can and if you want to brew it at 95C, more chocolatey/nuts, you can, of course depending on other variables like roast profile, water texture, acidity in the water, brew pressures, etc, but it helps.
On rotary pump; generally it is a lot quieter and from what I was told, would last longer than a vibration pump – in fact that’s what happened with my old machine, the vibration pump was kaput (German for spoilt).
Also, the machine had brass and copper parts inside, which help to preserve heat and the outside is made with stainless steel, which last longer than normal steel.
So, I bought a Profitec Pro 700, which is a German made prosumer machine – suitable for consumers with a professional bias, I guess. It’s their top of the range machine with all the pro cons but they now offer other variations, Pro 600, Pro 500 and very recently a Pro 400 and it’s baby, Pro 300.
What was the price you may still be asking… well let’s say that I didn’t tell my wife for a few years, But let’s say I saved about EUR400.
After the purchase
I must confess, the first few days back then were a bit painstaking and a word of advice – you will encounter this with any new machine. I was used to ordering coffee from some of the best coffee roasters in the World but the coffee I was given to start from the shop, albeit good to look at, was not up there on the taste notes. I found that the specialty coffee I was used to, was not pulling as good and at one point longed for my old machine, which I was so used to. I thought simple is sometimes just best.
However, before you gasp in horror and bring out the tissues, you’d be happy to know that as I got more used to the machine and the grinder settings, as well as the ability to adjust the brew pressure to between 9 and 11, the espresso began to improve.
One thing straight up that was much better was definitely the ease of steaming milk – it was bliss compared to my old machine – no regrets there. I caught myself in the typical dilemma of good micro foam for latte art poured on top of sub-standard espresso – I was close to depresso on most shots during the first few months. But things changed, if not I wouldn’t be writing this and I no longer regret my purchase, yay! After all it’s been 8 years with this machine baby.
After I bought the machine, I did some more research and Profitec have expanded, offering their products in the US especially, where if you visit youtube, you can learn how to use the machine and study what it’s made off. Their new model is also on offer in the UAE too. I have pimped my machine though, using La Marzocco portafilter holders.
So, if you are in the market for a new espresso machine that you want to last for 10+ years and don’t want to pay $5,000, check this brand out and no, I don’t get any kind of sponsorship from them.
Espresso is the most expensive way of making coffee and even world experts like James Hoffmann have said that they don’t even own one – that’s fine if you own a world-renowned coffee roasting company, Square Mile Coffee, so I guess he can go to work and pull as many shots as he likes. You must love espresso because if you are going to spend this type of money, then please use the machine at least once a day. Better if you have more people in your house that love espresso-based drinks, then it would be cheaper than drinking coffee outside your home.
TIME & WASTE
It follows too, that making espresso is also expensive in terms of wasting coffee to get the right grind when you buy different coffees, not to mention the change in temperature and more. But also time. Sometimes it can take a few minutes to make an espresso. For me, it’s a part of my daily ritual in the morning, so I don’t rush it.
Anything more expensive, means that the maintenance will also be expensive too. So, you need to buy the right gadgets to clean it regularly, use filtered water or a filter to minimise the worst damage, limescale. Read more about cleaning an espresso machine here For me, in the last few years since I bought the machine, it’s been serviced twice, had a few parts changed and a bit more, BUT it’s still worth it.
If you love espresso coffee and are willing to give it time, then it’s one of the best ways to express your love ❤️ for coffee.