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Dubai Coffee Report:Qahwaty, your neighbourhood coffee shop in Mirdif

As you know by now, whenever I stopover in Dubai I can’t resist a trip to search for new cafes in the bustling café scene of Dubai. Usually when I visit I stay with my cousin who resides in the Mirdif area, a stone throw from the airport and a very residential part of Dubai, which believe it or not is home to only one major mall in the city of malls. Sadly, that major mall is crowded by your typical chain coffee shop and so whenever I wanted to drink specialty coffee, I had to coax my cousin into driving into the heart of Dubai or hop onto the metro for at least a 20-30 minute ride to relieve my coffee thirst…. until now.

When I visited last month, my cousin said there’s a Jones the Baker shop that just opened in a brand new retail outlet called Mirdif 35 and asked if I wanted to try the coffee there, so I thought “why not”. But as we approached the retail spot, which was like a black glass edifice oasis right in the middle of the sandy part of Mirdif, I noticed another coffee shop that caught my attention. Peering through the window I noticed a La Marzocco linea and a hard working barista. As soon as we entered I walked right pass the Jones the Baker shop, which I must say looked very inviting with its top of the range fittings and a Synesso Hydra.

Qahwaty. which is a derivative of Kahwa which means coffee in Arabic – very apt.

On entering, I could smell the dedication to coffee.

I walked around took some pictures – industrial chic with brass and copper plated ensembles which look like they were bespoke rather than store bought even with a fake grass ceiling. The brew bar was similarly decorated with copper trimmings, brewing gadgets, bags of coffee from famous roasters. When it was my turn , I asked the barista to describe the coffees on offer and their roast date. I think he was a bit shocked, because he knew that I was kind of serious about coffee and he responded enthusiastically. The first coffee had been roasted a few days back and was not recommended but he recommended another that was fruitier and I opted for a cortado, offered as a piccolo

He was so kind that he nevertheless brewed the freshly roasted coffee at a lower temperature to get more and so I got another coffee on the house

the barista was aptly called Suga, a very focused and approachable person.

On my way out I decided to try an espresso at Jones the Baker but after I watched the barista prepare my coffee albeit on a great machine I knew the experience would not match Qahwaty, sorry Jones.

So, if you live in mirdif and don’t want to travel into the Shaykh Zayed Rd area to grab a good cup of coffee I highly recommend Qahwaty for your coffee fix.

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Drinking Coffee in Bath and Bristol, England

I just noticed that I hadn’t blogged in November, which has been a bit of a blur, having been on the road for about half the month. So, where were we, Bath Part 2. My previous post on Colonna and Smalls highlighted not just the “star” of Bath but also one of the starts of England and if you follow sports, you’ll notice some common threads – great players tend to inspire those around them to greatness too – take Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls NBA (basketball) in the late 1980s, Pele in the Brazilian national team of 1970 World Cup (football) and more – so it is with coffee in Bath. I was pleasantly surprised with the number of quality coffee shops in such a small town (city in England because of the Cathedral). To be honest if I visited Bath and there was only 1 or 2 shops of the quality I saw I would have been happy.

Cascara

So, first off, as soon as we got off the train and dumped our bags at the lovely boutique hotel we stayed at, I was already on the coffee hunt. Right at the top of Upper Borough Walls, was Cascara, a small unassuming place, decked with a La Marzocco linea, serving Bath based coffee roaster, Roundhill coffee together with many healthy food options, vegan based and more. I was craving milk-based espresso, so I ordered a flat white, had a quick chat with the owner and was off to catch up with the family, who had failed to see me pop in. I mentioned to the owner (a lady whose name I’ve sadly forgotten) if she knew of Colonna and Smalls and of course she had, lauded them and didn’t even rank her coffee anywhere near theirs. I assured her that her coffee was good, to which she was pleased and then I was off again. Afterwards I saw that on google she’s ranked 4.7 out of 5, so don’t just take it from me, visit Cascara.

Hunter and Sons
Almost around the corner from Cascara is Hunter and Sons – recommended by a retailer and some others in the city, located at 14/15 Milsom Place in a mini outdoor mall style setting with restaurants like Jamie and a steak house – very chic, but easy to miss.

I found out later that Maxwell, owner of Colonna actually started here before he decided to part company and start his own coffee emporium. Decked with a Synesso and very posh-hip looking with designer beers on offer at one end, it’s coffee corner is unassuming with a little menu for both coffee and food. It was empty when I visited in mid-morning but I’m sure on the weekends and evening it is packed. Being mid-morning, I ordered a flat white in a glossy green cup,

Fruity based but I forget the roaster and easy to drink for most coffee drinkers.

Society Coffee

When we were pushed for time, I accepted defeat in my quest to visit Colonna at least once a day, and quickly goggled coffee shops in Bath and realised I was next to Society Coffee at 19 High Street, very close to Cathedral and heart of the city. As it was late afternoon, I needed a pour over.

I quickly glanced over at the brew station and ordered some coffee and even had time to sit once I convinced my wife and daughter to order hot chocolates and a brownie. I found out later that Society have another coffee shop, which I just had to visit on our final and last hour in bath a couple of days later. On my second visit to the branch, I bought Roundhill coffees, had a chat with the barista as they poured this lovely cappuccino


Took a pic and literally rushed off to catch our train back to London.

Full Court Press, Bristol

I thought it opportune to mention that we took a day trip to Bristol as my daughter wanted to look at the university there. Located about 15 minutes train ride from Bath, it’s a much bigger city, where you can shop more and indulge in West England’s largest city, recently voted best place to live in the UK. As usual, I was thinking about my coffee fix and haven “goggled” best coffee in Bristol, this came up and lucky me, praise God, what do you know, it was on our path from the train station to the university. So I took the opportunity to pop in for a quick flat white.

The owner hails from Bristol, studied out of the city and was back to share his love of coffee with its residents – very generous. It’s quaint and with the grinders by simonelli and a La Marzocco strada for espresso, you can tell the focus is coffee with used coffee bags framed to decorate the wall.

They’ve got cakes, sarnies (sandwiches for non-Brits) and menu options for coffee, espresso , filter and guest coffee roasters.

so if you’re smart enough to get into the University of Bristol check this cafe out and some others I didn’t have the time to check out.


I was @ Sussmund Kaffeebar, Vienna


A few weeks back a colleague sent an e-mail inviting me and two other guys to meet for lunch because she had never met three people so passionate about coffee. she thought it a good idea to get some coffee geeks together – a great idea. Because before we knew it, we even had a name”Specialty Coffee Society” – we just need to check if we can officially create one at the UN in Vienna. Before you knew it we were exchanging ideas on coffee and just this past weekend we decided to check a cafe out to start our “coffee crawl” missions. So, we decided to try out Sussmund – which means “sweet mouth” in English – how appropriate.

To be honest I’ve heard about Sussmund for a while now. Started by Nikolaus Hartmann, the roaster – it focused firstly on selling roasted coffee to cafes and restaurants, and it still does. One of my fave cafes in Vienna, Cafe Jonas Reindl, usually has sussmund coffee on their grinder as their house blend. In fact for a few months they also had a pop up shop in the heart of Vienna, which I was lucky to visit and had a piccolo (made like a cortado)  see below, where I also met with Nikolaus and had a chat about how he started, his mission and vision too.


But I’m glad to report that at the moment they have a mainstay, Sussmund Kaffee just off the centre, located on Dominikanerbastei 11 • A-1010 Wien – opposite the iconic post office, designed by the renowned architect, Otto Wagner. The cafe is actually located inside a furniture concept store, so you can grab a cup of coffee and sit on designer furniture and relax – of course if you really like the furniture, you can buy it too.

A little smallish but they have all gadgets – the Black Eagle espresso machine, all the filter brewing options using their coffees, roasted coffee for sale and brewing gadgets and accessories.

To try out this espresso milk based skills – you know my pattern now – I tried a cortado using a fruity coffee from Ethiopia and my colleague followed suit. 


She was so intrigued that coffee could taste sweet and not need any sugar and more importantly leave a pleasant fell in her mouth – another convert made to the world of coffee can actually taste sweet and not bitter. In fact, I said that we don’t usually describe coffee as “bitter” but more appropriately, “sour”, running through the 5 taste elements of sweet, sour, salty, hot and finally umami. So, I digress come d’habitude.

For our second round we went full on filter, Hario V60 and Aeropress. I tried a berry medium acidity Guatemalan coffee, complimented by what I must say a rather French tasting croissant – i.e. it was really good. Also on offer, before I forget are chocolate brownie cakes, banana, walnut and chocolate bread, pastries and other treats.


Very laboratory orientated.

A nice brew, sweet and sour at the same time. I also waited for it to cool down to check if it would get more sour, but it didn’t, yay!


We really enjoyed the kaffee – it was Saturday, so very relaxed and before we knew it 2 hours had passed drinking coffee and getting to know each other. Looking forward to our next venture, which I hope will be a cupping session at another cafe, so watch this space for more on the Vienna Specialty Coffee Society.

Before I leave, of course, I recommend visiting Sussmund – check their website too here


The Sum of Us, Dubai: Revisited

  
I guess I kind of give the impression that I live in Dubai – well, my jealous daughter just told me “You stop-over there so often”, and my reply “don’t be a hater”. Anyway on yet another stop-over, just last weekend, I was naturally craving coffee, even though the curry fish I had the previous night didn’t provide relief but grief. It just so happened that on this occasion, the Sum of Us was the closest decent cafe to get to before rushing off to the airport.

On entering, I was pleasantly surprised. First up, when I visited in the summer, the cafe had only been opened about 4 weeks and hence was not on the radar yet, making it quite empty – read more here. So, on this occasion, the cafe was literally packed, both inside and outside (it was only about 24C). I only wanted a good cup of milk-based espresso a flat – a magic. 

  
After placing my order, I wandered around and went back to wait by their “take away” station. 

  
After downing my caffeine bliss, I was very intrigued by the expresso blend used – it was quite exceptional and so after discovering it was their house blend, aptly called “Tsunami”, I walked off to the roastery section to purchase my bag of beans.

  
Upon entering, there are gadgets (aeropress, Hario V60 and more) on the left-hand side of the wall, plus I was greeted very nicely by Kersti from Estonia. As we talked, she sensed I was not just another buff and mentioned that she was also holding a coffee tasting session later that day.

  
 I noticed two coffees from EspressoLab, Cape Town, chatted for a bit and ran out to meet my very patient cousin, who was driving around wondering why it was taking me 10 minutes just to drink a cup of coffee.

So, whats changed? More people, eclectic atmosphere, the smell of success and coffee tasting. By having your own roastery, you have access to multiple revenue streams – you gain control of your raw material and product line, coffee, you can sell coffee to other cafes and of course, you can hold coffee tasting sessions. On the latter, for the great value price of AED75 (Euros20), you can have an hour or more session on how to taste coffee – I did something similar at Escape Caffe in Cape Town, once a month. Hats off to the Sum of Us/Tom Arnel and Sergio.

But we’re not finished yet…

  
The coffee, which I brewed this morning, called the Tsunami or the Sum of Us house espresso blend.

   

I call it splitting the heart. Enough of the pedantic, what did it taste like? Hints of toffee and believe it or not caramelised cashews, yummy. Worth the price and transport from Dubai to Vienna in my baggage.

So, if you’re in Dubai and are reading this, pop down to the Sum of Us, enjoy some breakfast, coffee and atmosphere for me and buy some coffee to be brewed how you like.

Ma’assalama, as they say in the Emirates.

 


From Coffee With Love: 2014 Web Stats review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Vienna’s New Coffee Guys: KaffeMik and Zamm Good Coffee

Cortado at Zamm Coffee

Cortado at Zamm Coffee

Kaffemik

To change a culture, you need passion and commitment and you can quote me on that, so when I heard that some guys who were fed up with drinking bad coffee during their coffee breaks/lunchtime decided to open up a small café near their office, so, that they could at least have a decent cup of coffee during their breaks, I was impressed. This is the story behind Kaffemik, located on Zollergasse 5, of Mariahilfer Strasse – one of the main thoroughfares in Vienna. Craving the thought of experiencing their coffee and concept, I passed by for a flying visit one lunchtime. It’s small, reminiscent of a place where you know the focus is coffee, pure and simple, so it’s dominated by a La Marzocco Linea 2 group and an unassuming brewing station.

Kaffeemik this way

Kaffeemik this way

Also available are light pastries to accompany your coffee and a shelf displaying coffees on sale as well as other coffee geek gadgets, like aeropress and Hario V60s and accessories.

La Marzocco Linea

La Marzocco Linea

On offer, they have a house blend espresso, roasted by Rosterin (i.e. Vienna School of Coffee) and every month have a guest espresso and filter to sample or purchase on-line.

A great place to get a good coffee when shopping on Mariahilfer Strasse and I’m glad to report that they’re open on Saturday too.

https://www.kaffemik.at

 

Zamm Coffee

Welcome to Zamm

Welcome to Zamm

About a quick 10 minute walk towards the Burgasse end of Zollergasse  and a few streets over is another place driven by passion, Zamm Coffee on Kirchengasse 35, owned and run by Max. A pleasant young and talented guy – his café also poses as a mini-art gallery, which also displays very hard to get creative magazines like Folk, Cereal, Caffeine and Longberry – if you’ve never heard of these magazines, then you’re either not a serious caffeine lover or a graphic designer – if you’re curious, then head down to drink great coffee and read trendy magazines. In any case, Max gets his coffee from different roasters in Europe and has a simple menu, recognisant of the original Prufrock Menu by Gwilym Davies many years back. So there an espresso, espresso with some milk (i.e.Cortado) and with more milk (i.e. Cappuccino) but if you really want more milk, then he can make you a classic cafe latte too. Also on offer are various pour overs methods, aeropress, copper encrusted Hario V60 and Syphon, especially on Fridays. Ask Max for which filter coffees are best brewed on what.

Gadgets to droll over

Gadgets to droll over

I’m not entirely sure what drew Max into coffee – I was rushing as his café is not near my office at all, but he just got back from a “barista bootcamp” in Europe with leading figures like Jim Hoffmann of Squaremile. I expect he learnt a lot and must now be breaming with new brewing ideas. Check this Zamm “good” Coffee, where you can buy coffee gadgets, coffee, magazines and art.

https://www.facebook.com/zammcoffee
Well done Vienna – I don’t have to hold my coffee breath anymore for trips to London to taste and appreciate great coffee, made with passion.


My Fave Coffees So Far…

The year seems to be going through pretty fast and I thought about documenting what has delighted my taste buds so far this year in the World of Coffee. First up, was the Colombian Gaitania, roasted by then St Ali London (now Workshop Coffee), which I picked up at their sister store, Sensory Lab (now Workshop Coffee) on Wigmore Street. I fell for this coffee when I first tasted it on an aeropress in Clerkenwell and made sure that before I left London I picked up a bag to take back to Cape Town with me. I featured it as a coffee at my coffee tasting event at Escape Caffe and then enjoyed the remainder at home on an aeropress. It didn’t disappoint on every brew, displaying a clean caramel light acid taste. I used this coffee to induct my 12 year old daughter on the pleasure of drinking coffee on an aeropress and she too was pleasantly surprised by the clean sweetish taste she experienced. I have to confess,  I can’t see many coffees beating my experience of this bean this year, at least on the aeropress.

 

 

A close second has to be the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Konga, sourced by Union Hand Roasted Coffee (another top London based roaster). I’m glad to report that they now have a satellite shop or should I say “Field Office” in true UN lingo, in Cape Town, down the road from my caffe, Escape Caffe on Bree Street, Cape Town. At the forefront of their Cape Town branch, located on Buiten Street, is Gerald, the main roaster, who had 4 months of training at Union Hand Roasted in London before being sent back to Cape Town. When I told Gerald I wanted something special for my Coffee Tasting Event/ cupping sessions for customers (held on the 1st Saturday of every month), he highly recommended this bean. At first, I was wondering why I loved this bean so much – light, sweet finish, hint of caramel, sour berry and pleasant + soothing effects. It should come as no surprise then that I have featured this bean on 2 occasions. On the second, I even had the pleasure of sampling the bean roasted in 2 different ways – sample roast 10 days before and large batch 5 days earlier – subtle difference but the 10 day old roasted got the edge for me as I felt it was more developed and had a cleaner/more refined finish. For the record, the Yirgacheffe Konga is washed. The taste profile for this bean – well! Again, I asked my 12 year old daughter to taste and give me her profile “caramel and hint of blueberry Daddy” – well you never, the taste profile on Union Hand Roasted website is blueberry caramel – Wow! My daughter’s going to be better than me.

I can’t leave without at least mentioning a Square Mile Coffee bean and here we have Rwanda Musasa Rushashi. Described as having a hint of graprefruit acidity, I felt this was more pronounced only when brewing on the French Press. Other taste profiles, reminded me of black berries and hints of dark organic chocolate. In conclusion, an unusual bean and perhaps not everyones “cup of coffee” but that’s what makes it interesting and after all not all coffees are supposed to taste the same. I preferred this coffee after a heavy meal and for livening the senses.