Dubai Coffee Pioneers: Mokha 1450

Mokha 1450, Palm Jumeirah

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….

Cortado at Wasl Branch

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.

Wasl branch, San Remo machine

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.

Preparing my cortado

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.

Here we are

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!

Visit them and read more on their website

Coterra: A Hidden Dubai Coffee Spot

Always out for a scent (pun intended) of coffee adventure, I asked my fellow coffee geek, Naveed, for this favourite new coffee spots in Dubai and I was presented with two options, and I chose Coterra, located in Umm Ramool, near the airport and closet to me as I had run out of espresso coffee and needed coffee quick – and no, I’m not an addict – I just like or should I say, love coffee. I was even surprised that a coffee shop existed in this part of the bustling city that Dubai is and to be honest, had to check google maps twice to make sure I wasn’t headed in the wrong direction – confession … on my way there, I took the wrong turning.

So, upon arriving you are greeted with this Muriel of colours – in fact it reminds me of something you might find in another part of the World, like in South America. Okay, let’s go in.

Upon entering, it was like a hidden gem indeed. I was greeted with a brew bar to my right accompanied with a complimentary cup of Arabic coffee by, I presume the cafe manager and to my left I spotted not one but two Giesen coffee roasters covered in their brand colours of green of course – I hasten to add, Giesen is a fave with serious coffee roasters.

As I walked further into the cafe to take some pictures, I also noted what looked like a sensory lab… decked with a coffee tasting chart – the wheel of fortune for all coffee sensory nerds.

Already looking impressed, I noticed a gentleman walking up to me and I did this thing that my wife always rolls her eyes – yes, having travelled extensively in Africa, I try and spot accents as a way to connect with people and I instantly picked up head barista, Mickey’s, as being from Kenya. After exchanging greetings (Karibu is welcome in Swahili) adding that I had been to Kenya several times and to the famous Coffee Research Institite in Ruiru, just outside Nairobi, Mickey had this look that if I could read minds, could be summed up as “oh, this guy knows and loves coffee” , so he presented me with a few options for tasting their coffee over my two hour stay.

First up, was a Costa Rican coffee for my daily cortado. I must confess, I was highly skeptical as my previous memories of Costa Rican coffee is that they tend to be on the higher acidity side, not bad for filter but as an espresso, I didn’t really want to drink something that might remind me of orange juice and milk – the two just don’t mix, literally.

Looks good doesn’t it? My skepticism disappeared after the first sip, as my tongue was washed with subtle fruit with hints of caramel and berries, but not over bearing. Of course, I then quizzed Mickey about how he had brewed my coffee, to which he explained the process adopted using their Dalla Corte “zero barista” espresso machine. So, here’s a short diversion for the coffee geeks.

In summary, the espresso machine is built with a Digital Flow Regulation (DFR) using an exclusive and patented technology that allows you to digitally control the quantity of water whilst you extract an espresso – this is important because this is where aromas and flavours are developed. By being able to regulate the flow, you can vary acidity, sweetness and body according to the requests of your customers, leading them toward a new concept of tasting. For just one type of coffee variety, more tastings are possible, different from one another. (courtesy Dalla Corte)

So, what does that mean ? In short Mickey was able to manipulate the coffee and reduce the acidity whilst brewing my coffee, WOW! I love learning new stuff about coffee.

Before I left, I had an espresso on the house and an exquisite Colombian coffee, brewed on the Hario V60.

I was also lucky enough to meet with the pleasant owner, Mohamed, who gave me his card and explained the name behind the brand – CO for coffee and TERRA(latin for land), so “coffee land”. He also mentioned that his partner is from Nepal.

I left with two bags of coffee roasted for espresso, one, their Space Blend and the other, can you believe it? Costa Rican, roasted for espresso.

In short, if you are on the way to the airport and want a quick good tasting coffee before you fly, then make this your last stop. Otherwise, it isn’t that far from downtown Dubai – say 10 minutes drive. As of now I’m still enjoying their coffees.

Coterra are located at 18 9th street, Umm Ramool, Dubai – use google maps

Drinking coffee with Champions: Michaela Ruazol-Recera and Mon Alpas

The champs

As promised from my last post, where I mentioned “how often do you walk into a cafe and a champion offers to make you coffee”… well it happened to me twice and here, I was served by Champions – yes that’s the plural of champion – Michaela Ruazol-Recera, UAE Barista Champion and Mon Alpas, UAE Latte Art Champion. Scrolling through Instagram, I couldn’t believe when I saw on Goldbox Roastery (one of my faves) page that both champions would be at their roastery serving coffee. I promptly informed Naveed and off we went.

To be honest I was surprised that upon arriving around 1pm, that there wasn’t a queue – definitely if this was in London, Melbourne or New York, there would have been a long queue BUT I wasn’t complaining – more time to talk to the champions and enjoy my coffee. We even had a front row seat as Michaela explained the special process of her winning coffee, la Esperanza Mandela, stored in barrels for 30 hours – which was served – listen below;

Michaela in action

Fresh from competing at the World Barista Championship and the UAE Barista Championship, which she won again, Michaela seemed excited about trying to innovate the coffee industry and during the week I was there, it was also being served at her cafe, Typica in Jumeirah (yes, I went there a few days later to have it – let’s just say it tasted like vanilla ice cream). BUT we’re not finished yet.

Two creatures

Yes, that looks amazing but have you heard of “distilled milk”? Well, I recall Naveed mentioning it to me but I had never tasted it before – in short, it’s milk that is frozen and then in this case defrosted with 50% of the water removed making it a lot creamier and sweeter. This isn’t an easy feat as I have tried to froth cream before – yes, many years ago during my inexperienced wide eye years and no, it didn’t work. So, all I can say is “hat’s off” (English colloquialism for well done) to Mon Alpas for not only frothing the milk but pouring such wonderful latte art.

Mon in action

So, we had our coffee prep and brewed on the this wonderful Modbar by the UAE Barista champion and had our milk for our cortado prep and poured by the UAE National Latteeart champion – how often do you get to experience or say that ? Online Dubai.

The taste ???

Well, here’s my reaction – need I say more.

Excited me

Okay just a little – sublime in that usually when I’ve had any kind of macerated or anaberoic coffee, it’s been filtered and you can experience this unusual fruity caramel taste but in a milk based espresso coffee, it was Wow! sometimes words are not needed – just enjoy the experience.

And I’m not finished – I so enjoyed the experience that I asked for the cappuccino version – yes, it had more milk but also more coffee….. Yummy!

Pegasus

Needless to say It was great meeting Barbara Croce, owner of Gold Box too as she was in Dubai for a few days, so I got to talk coffee geek stuff too.

Feeling jealous ? Don’t be, because this coffee will be made available at Typica if not now, then very soon as Michaela can’t wait to INSPIRE others with her new creation.

Drinking Coffee with Champions: Mariam Erin

Mariam Erin and I

A few weeks back I decided to re-visit my favourite coffee spots in Dubai and Espresso Lab was of course on the list. This time however, I went to TEL.Roastery (i.e. their roastery) and when I got there, who greeted me with a smile, Mariam Erin – the current UAE Cup Brewers Cup Champion – she won the award for making the best filter coffee – I was lucky enough to watch her compete earlier in the year. So, imagine my delight when I entered and saw her and even more so, when she offered to make me coffee – how could I say no to that.

The champ in action

On the brew was a special – it’s always special at Espresso Lab – coffee from Panama – a Geisha of course. Her recipe was 16g using 240ml of water with a brewing time of approximately 2 minutes.

The smell was unbelievably fruity with citrus high notes, which made my eyes and tongue water and so was the taste.

Then she offered to make me a cortado – again I could’t resist using an Ethiopian Hambela bean. Again another fab experience.

I have to say that only is Mariam great at making coffee, but she makes it with ease in a cool and collected manner. I recall that when I watched her on her way to be crowned champion, she spoke very clearly and articulated her passion, drawing you into the experience of the coffee she selected whilst brewing the coffee. I have to add too that she’s a great artist – check her on instagram.

All in all, I could say was, Thank God, as how often do you walk into a cafe and a champion offers to make you not one but two cups of coffee – well it happened again, but to read about that, wait for the next post.

Dubai Coffee: Welcome Barn Berlin

Imagine my surprise when I heard a few weeks back that the famous Barn Berlin, Best Independent Coffee Shop in Europe 2018″ AND “Best Specialty Coffee Roaster in Europe & Middle East 2019″were opening their first international outlet not in another major city in Europe, but all the way in the Middle East, in Dubai. I was on the one hand a bit surprised but I was thinking ….. perhaps when Ralf visited Dubai he was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the coffee culture in Dubai and thought “hey! I need to share my coffee philosophy in this city. 🤔”

I never got the time to ask him why but I was honoured that upon their opening in mid October, Ralf was there not just to welcome me and my friends but also to make one of their special coffees on the V60 – lucky me.

Hario V60

Set in a very European setting I have to say, Barn Berlin Dubai is located in Kazzan Park, opposite the glitzy City Walk. Yes, across the road there are lights representing the essence of Dubai but there’s a calming ambience in the park that hosts Barn Berlin Dubai.

The shop itself is quite small – again typical of a quintessence European coffee shop and as you enter on the right you are greeted with the Brew Bar, which houses a La Marzocco 2 group linea espresso machine and a set of Hario V60s at the ready

Let the brewing begin

As you look to your left there’s an open view bakery kitchen, where recipes from Barn Berlin and Ralf’s family bake on site German style pastries and cakes. So what you might miss from the roastery has definitely been made up with a live German bakery kitchen…..

On display across the cafe are bags of coffee “roasted in Berlin” and you have a pick from filter, espresso and highly prized filter based coffee – yes, think Hacidenda Esmeralda from the famed Panamanian coffee estate and Anaberoic fermented Yemeni coffee – yes they may cost a bit more than your average coffee but trust me Dubai’s coffee hunters buy them as soon as they arrive from Berlin.

I’ve already been twice since they opened – first to be served coffee by Ralf and second with my wife, who loved the tea (yes, she doesn’t usually take coffee, but she liked the German style carrot cake).

Almond and chocolate oder carrot cake?

As the weather gets cooler by Dubai standards (25C is great trust me), it’s a great place to have coffee in the park – there’s a lot more seating in the park and outside the shop than inside. You can sip great roasted coffee, eat German recipe treats and look at the tallest building in the World – now how’s that for the DRINK OF THE ESCAPIST.

For more info see https://thebarn.de/pages/the-barn-dubai

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 Cypher Urban Roastery, Dubai

Before I delve into this new post and just in case you were wondering…. Yes! I’ve moved to Dubai, UAE. Over the last few weeks, if you’ve been following me on Instagram, you would have noticed under my stories that I’ve been visiting many cafes and roasteries. On the latter, you would be pleased and coffee fixated to know that Dubai has many coffee roasteries – in fact I think someone should do an analysis of the amount of coffee froasteries per square mile/km within this bustling coffee fixated city.

One one such trip, I decided to visit Cypher Urban Roastery, after seeing a price on them on CNN, where they talked about the challenges during the pandemic of 2020.

On entering their roastery, situated in the coffee roastery district of them all, Al Qouz District, my fellow coffee nerd, Naveed and I were approached by a gentleman, who came out of his office and greeted us calmly. He then proceeded to offer to make is a coffee, for which we naturally went for a cortado, which he brewed using a Ugandan arabica.

Latte art on cortado

Hints of sour cherry caramel came to my taste buds.

After that, he showered us with extensive coffee knowledge, nit just about Dubai but also about roasting and sourcing beans, which led to another culinary experience, where he brewed not just one, but two very special coffees from an extraordinary lot from Colombia using the Hario V60 method. If my memory serves me correctly, they were rated number 1 and 2 respectively in Colombia. Both were naturally from Cypher’s Nobility line, which means they are highly rated, cupping over 90.

The first, my favourite, had hints of guava, see above

The second one was still very special and was very fruity.

After that he gave us a tour of their roastery, from bag storage, to roasters, packing station and distribution outlet.

Roastery at Cypher

He also showed us a special Probat roaster that he designed with the owner.

All in all, a fantastic coffee experience, made extra special by Milo Sekulovic, a very modest gentleman indeed hailing from Serbia and of course, a Q grader and specialist coffee roaster.

Thanks Milo and Cypher for an extraordinary coffee experience.

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 of the Week Video

Coffee of the week 5 April video

Here’s my first video of my new series, coffee of the week, in which I share with you which of the coffees I had during my week that impressed me the most, whether as a filter brew or as an espresso.

My first video celebrating the impressive Kenyan coffee I got at Nightjar, Dubai. Here, I’m using Hario V60, based loosely on the James Hoffmann’s method;

  • 15g freshly grinded coffee
  • 245ml 95C water
  • Hario V60 with filter paper made wet with some hot water

See methodology in my video and let me know your Hario V60 method.

With this method, the coffee was really fruity with dark berries, citrus acidity and full bodied, with a long aftertaste round the middle of my tongue. 

 

 

 

 

 

I was at NightJar Coffee, Dubai

Lucky me…. really. I was in Dubai in mid-March, just before the lock down, flight bans, quarantine and more and just got back to Vienna on the last couple of flights until July 2020.

Back to lucky me…. I was actually in Dubai to investigate the possibility of moving there to set up a business/life coaching consultancy, which would also involve… you guessed it… working as a coffeepreneur. In any case, I was talking to Yashood, head barista of %Arabica on the Dubai cafe culture, specifically on the explosive coffee roasting trend and he recommended that I check out a newish joint, Night Jar – located in the trendy arty district, called Alserkal Avenue. I must admit that during our family vacation in July 2019, we visited Alserkal Avenue to check out a chocolate cafe/factory and I walked by Night Jar, but it looked closed, so I never ventured in.

LUCKY ME… because even with just one week in Dubai during these tough times, I was still able to discover and experience great coffee in Dubai.

Night Jar is located at Unit G62 Alserkal Avenue Al Quoz Industrial 1, close to the main entrance and you could easily miss it,  as the exterior is darkish with glass doors and their logo on top. As you walk in, there are rows of coffees on the right hand side for you to buy,

If you look slightly to your left, you’ll see a tiny hallway feature that looks closed to all but staff (I found out later that this passage leads to the roasting area, equipped with a Geisen coffee roaster). As you look further to your left, you’ll see the brew bar and delicious looking cakes on display. They have a BlackEagle espresso machine –

Being inquisitive, I asked about their roaster and was introduced to Chad from Cape Town, who previously worked for Truth Coffee for 5 years (an insight – when I moved to Cape Town in 2009 my initial plan was to launch Truth Coffee with David Donde but I felt that my heart was somewhere else – a lesson for anyone chasing their goals, which I also write about daily on Instagram as honestmanagement) – Nevertheless, what a coincidence, that I walk into a cafe in Dubai and the roaster used to work for a place I almost started out at. In any case during our brief chat, I could tell that Chad is a no nonsense kind of coffee guy – focused on sourcing and roasting the best with an innovative edge. He recommended that I try an espresso of their Colombian coffee, which was about to finish

I must confess it was one of the best espresso I’ve had in a cafe for a while – well balanced between acidity and fruity undertones and smooth to drink.

I couldn’t agree more.😋

However, I definitely needed to buy their coffees – Chad suggested their Rwandan coffee for espresso and the Kenyan for filter, which he very kindly refused for me to pay.

I was also tempted to buy a slice of cake, but we had just had one at Tom&Serg around the corner – my daughter was slightly upset as she said “daddy, we could have had these nice cakes here…” next time God willing.

More about NightJar – they source micro and nano lots, so their specialty coffee offering is really special as you might taste something incredible one day that may not be available the next – so buy the bag whilst you can. Their interior is L shaped, cosy and intimate – they also offer food and their menu looks great, I mean stuff like pulled ox benedict, Nigeria love rice, NZ meatballs, veggie specials and more – yum! so next time, I plan to make a meal of it (coffee, lunch and dessert) God willing. They offer nitro coffee, which is a sort of cold brew coffee charged with nitrogen to give it a rich, creamy head, similar to nitro draft beer like Guinness – in fact at Nightjar, the brew heads for nitro coffee look like how beer is dispensed but being Dubai, there’s no beer here.

Before I sign off, I have mention that I really love their fun theme on their packaging.

Very innovative.

I plan to meet their owner, who hails from New Zealand and who coincidentally again, is known by one of my contacts in Dubai.

When the quarantine is out, I strongly advise any serious coffee nerd to visit Nightjar in Dubai – until then they are selling their coffees online – lucky Dubanites (is that a word?) visit them here right now to order https://nightjar.coffee

 

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