I went to the Dubai Coffee Museum

Hey what’s this

One thing I love about Dubai is that it never fails to deliver on experiences. Now, I’m very aware that there’s a lot of media, some good and some suspect about Dubai but a city dating centuries with over 4.5m residents is a lot more diverse than the glitz and glam of what the media wants to portray.

So, off we went to the Al Fahidi district in old Dubai and yes, there is such a thing – it’s the place where it all started -where old building were built to capture cool air, where abrar (water taxis) transported people across the creek to trade in spices, cloths, carpets, gold, pearls and more – and where the old shops/merchants that built Dubai and foreign embassies are housed too.

In fact, I’d heard about the Coffee Museum for years but never ventured there and I must confess stumbled across it when my family and I were discovering the old city a few weeks back – we initially found it on a Friday but it was closed – so never visit on a Friday. That day, we went to another famous old city hub, the Arabian Tea House, just a minute away – another must go for traditional Emirate/Lebanese food and of course tea and Emirati style coffee (qahwa in Arabic).

Still craving that experience and when asked what should we do today… I replied, “let’s got to the coffee museum, which is also close to some shops for you babe (my wife)”. So, off we went last Sunday but we got there a bit late, just after 4pm – they close at 5pm.

Opening in 2014, the owner and purveyor of the Coffee Museum, Khalid al Mulla, had been collecting coffee related trinkets for years and decided to open up what is now the largest coffee museum in the Middle East – there are only 16 in the World. We paid an entry fee of AED10 (just over $3), which included complimentary qahwa (arabic coffee) with dates and another cup of coffee made the Ethiopian way using the Jebba. The museum is housed in a traditional Emirati home with low ceilings and narrow walkways, so mind your head as you enter.

Coffees

Split into many rooms across two floors, housing international antiques (mostly from Germany ), coffee origins room, middle east antiques, a literature room, a majlis (traditional Emirati room for drinking coffee and talking), as well as a kids corner and media room, you will have time to satisfy your curiosity. In short, the rooms host anything from old coffee grinding machines, dating centuries to the first ever roasting devices as well as beans and posters too. Luckily for us, we met Kay, whom I had met at an event promoting the UAE Aeropress championship, gave us a personal tour.

Kay showing us a coffee antique

For speciality coffee, head upstairs to their mini shop, which houses a Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espresso machine and of course filter brewing options. I couldn’t help myself and went for two options, a cortado

and a filter coffee using THREE Coffee (Dubai based roaster) Colombian filter beans prepared by Kay.

As we were walking down we saw this…

The Victoria Arduino Venus – yes it looks very plush but the great thing about this machine is that although it looks very antique from the outside, inside is a modern take on espresso machinery. This was their espresso machine before they recently introduced the Black Eagle.

As a tribute to all the coffee growing countries in the World they have these flags but they now have to add more (Nigeria grows coffee too).

All in all, a wonderful experience, which I highly recommend when you visit Dubai. Sure, you’ll want to visit the tallest building in the World , Burj Khalifa and the largest shopping mall, Dubai Mall but take time out to visit the old district, which houses traditional souks (that’s why my wife likes coming here… LOL), the Seef district with quaint hotels/restaurants and a murder mystery hunt, the museum of illusions, the Arabian Tea House, old

Mosque in Al Fahidi

style mosques and of course the coffee museum. After all, after all that walking and eating you’d want to finish off with some good coffee right?

For more info see here

When I had a coffee shop

So how much do you love your #coffee dream? 🤔 Here’s a quick 🎥 #video, where I share my thoughts and daily routine when I had a cafe 11 years ago in Cape Town, South Africa.

In summary, when you have a dream, go for it as you might learn a few things about your life and aspirations and even lose weight – well I stood up for about 5-6 hours a day serving customers and chatting too. Plus, and I hesitate to add, I’m not a biologist BUT I think the excitement of running your cafe or chasing your dream might have a positive impact on your physical, mental and spiritual health too.

Before I go and perhaps I’m getting a bit philosophical here, I sincerely believe that when you chase your dreams, not forgetting the stress of getting customers, the enjoyment will out last the pain points. In fact 4 years after I sold my cafe I was still on a high of chasing my dreams. I’m not sure why BUT perhaps a study needs to be done. As I quest for another coffee dream, this euphoria feeling I must say is addictive but in a good way.

Launching My Espresso Blend

I’m so excited to let you know that on 2 March 2021 I launched my first ESPRESSO BLEND coffee in collaboration with Sippy Beans of Dubai, UAE. I always believe that if you are really passionate about something and try your best to persevere with faith and determination to live your dream, you will experience it in some way. This isn’t my first journey of living my dream as you know, because back in 2009, I moved to Cape Town to open up my first coffee shop, called Escape Caffe, which I eventually sold for multiple personal reasons in early 2013.

So, when in October 2020, upon just moving to Dubai, I met with Shehzeen of Sippy Beans (a Dubai based online coffee retailer) I was asked, after talking about coffee for hours, she asked how we could work together, I dared to say, because I had dreamt about it and wanted to articulate it for REAL, that “can we launch a coffee brand using From Coffee With Love”, she said YES almost immediately. Now, who said that dreams don’t come true.

You may be wondering why I have called the espresso blend the “drink of the escapist”, so check my video here to experience my excitement.

In short, we worked with one of Dubai’s premier coffee roasters and after having tasted about 10 different blends, I knew that just one sip of what would be become my first espresso blend was all I needed. It just hit the spot, it was so unusual for me and I knew it was a bit unconventional, like LOVE of course, something that cannot be easily explained.

As I usually drink my espresso based drinks with milk, you’ll find hints of chocolate, spicy vanilla, with medium/low acidity and a long lasting caramel taste – so you’ll be looking forward to your next cup.

I always believe that you should follow your passion and pursue your dreams with perseverance as you never know who God will place in your path to make that dream a reality.

Thanks to my wife and my kids for believing in me and being patient when I went to cafes and grilled baristas about their coffee preparation. Thanks to Sippy for putting their trust in launching this blend with me. Looking forward to developing the filter blend soon God willing.

At present the coffee can be ordered using this link https://sippybeans.com/products/lameen-abdul-malik-custom-espresso-blend?variant=39251631931495

I was at The Espresso Lab, Dubai

A piccolo or cortado

The experience was even more exhilarating as I had my #dailycortado using #kenyancoffee

In honour of International coffee day on 1 October 2020, I decided to treat myself at one of Dubai’s iconic specialty coffee shops, The Espresso Lab, located at Dubai Design District. In fact this was my second visit, as I had visited them at the previous location in 2016, read here.

As you enter, you are greeted with a brew bar, featuring a Synesso espresso machine and many filter brew options ranging from cold drip, Hario V60, khalifa wave, etc and more, see pic below.

Brew bar at espresso lab

What was unusual for me, was the number of staff present. Let me explain; following the pandemic , I’ve noticed that most food and beverage establishments have cut down considerably on staff. I’ve always been in two minds about this because I always believe that this compromises on service delivery. Can you really provide the same level of quality customer experience ( I prefer this to service) with less people? Well, I don’t think so.

So, back to espresso lab. For me, with this amount of staff, it gave the impression that they were very focused on the customer and that each staff had clear guidelines on their job, so well done espresso lab.

Now, to the coffee. I love that they don’t serve espresso to go and don’t offer sugar, yay!

Coffee menu

I knew I was craving espresso based coffee as I had to leave my espresso machine in Vienna until it is air freighted. On offer were 3 single origins; India, Yemen and Kenya. Now, if you know a bit about coffee origins and taste profiles, you’ll know that these choices are very unusual, especially for espresso. In case you are wondering, it’s very rare to brew Kenyan coffee on an espresso machine mainly because of the typical profile of bold, berry and citrus flavours. Although very uncommon at the moment, I must say since I’ve moved to Dubai, I’ve had close contact with Yemeni coffee, so, I decided to try the Kenya coffee. Check out the latte art pour by barista Wael below.

Pouring my cortado

And wow! I wasn’t disappointed, as this was for me, one of the best milk based espresso drinks of 2020, a true treat, praise God. Well done to the barista Wael, who I quizzed endlessly before I placed my order. I salute his patience.

After that delightful experience, I knew I needed something sweet, so here comes the mini double layer carrot cake, topped with rose petals, another delicious treat. To compliment this experience I had a short black, americano with less water and discovered a book, “the monk of mokha“, which a friend mentioned to me a few years back, that I would like to buy and read.

Cute Carrot cake

Their menu is different and I plan to visit their newly opened roastery with another coffee nerd soon in order to learn more.

Coffee galore

So, when in Dubai, I highly recommend a visit to espresso lab, located in building 7, Dubai Design District.

Coffee and Philosophy: Podcast Interview

A few weeks back, Nick Baskett of bar talks contacted me to say that he really enjoyed my blog (yay!) and that he would love to do an interview with me. I found it very easy to talk with Nick and we really hit it off. After a couple of conversations, we decided that we needed to capture our chats about life and coffee for his bar talks podcast/ website.

We decided to name it Coffee and Philosophy as Nick is really into philosophy and I’m into coffee and life too. We had a really great chat and in fact the interview didn’t feel like an interview but like a great chat with a friend about life, coffee and more. So much so that we had to limit our time artificially because we know people get bored after about 30 minutes listening or watching an interview.

The full podcast is about 50 minutes and you can listen here  whilst driving or commuting. Alternatively, here’s a summary of the highlights of my first ever podcast with Nick Baskett where we talk about my life story and how to find your purpose chasing your dreams and using ancient philosophies like stoicism and more.

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