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

One of my Fave Coffee shops in Dubai: Heal

Sometimes you get to enjoy a thing too much and forget to acknowledge it and for that I’m guilty of having never written a post about one of my fave coffee and food hangouts in Dubai, HEAL – breakfast, lunch and dinner + wellness space, located on al Manara Road in Jumeirah. In fact I went there today with my wife and then it suddenly dawned on me that I have never posted about them ….. sigh as my daughter would say.

For me, as you know by now, anywhere that serves good coffee and food that you can enjoy is always a go-to-place for me as it ticks the main boxes for me when it comes to delighting my taste buds and just meeting people. So, when I was working on one of my new ventures last year post-September, I needed to meet quite a few people and guess what my answer always was, when asked “where should we meet?”… Heal on al Manara Road.

Not only is Heal conveniently located about 15 minutes’ drive from where I stay, but it also offers breakfast until 2pm (yes, all my meetings were before 2pm to avail of the brekkie menu), good coffee of course, outside seating (great between November and March in Dubai), keen staff and not to mention an all-day menu offering delicious fluffy pancakes, which we had for lunch today 😋 – see below.

Pancakes at Heal

Set in a converted villa, the décor is white with ecru and hints of a Spanish style villa vibe, so its relaxing and a bit noisy sometimes but you can easily chill here for hours – witness the many peeps on their laptops making the space their work-from-home coffee shop. You have two options to enter the main shop from the main road, with the right side dedicated to a more relaxing vibe where they have a small shop offering scented candles and little bits for the home.

The rest of the shop is focused on eating, working and drinking coffee and more. Weekends get quite busy especially for their hearty breakfast menu with both local Emirati and expats mainly from England. During the cooler months there’s ample seating outside, right from the front of the shop all the way down the left-hand side to the back (there’s free parking at the back too).

My fave brekkie item is the eggs benedict with spinach but of course you know that the coffee is my main attraction. 

Featuring the classic Synesso Espresso machine with attentive staff, I often order a FLAT WHITE because I think they make one of the best I’ve had in Dubai, Why? Yes, sometimes baristi (plural for barista) often make mistakes pouring a cappuccino and calling it a flat white but here they do it well and if I go in the morning I’ll default to their flat white.

Hint: the milk on top of the flat white should move easily and shouldn’t be too firm (cappuccino) and there should also be a thinnish layer on top, if not it’s a latte. Sounds fussy, BUT hey when it comes to coffee, you’ve got to get it right.

I’ll confess that Heal have been using the same blend for over a year now – Brazil with chocolate and almonds (classic) and Ethiopian Hambela (fruity with red berries and medium acidity) but at least when they make it, they make it right. I usually have Brazil with espresso milk based and of course the Ethiopia for filter options but I have to confess on one occasion I was asked to try the Brazil as a filter using the Hario V6o and I was pleasantly surprised.

Gone were the chocolate tones but what ensued was the light caramel tones with hints of dark berries.

I’ve been for dinner once, but I’d say their breakfast offerings and lunchtime menu is where they shine best.

If you visit Dubai and can make it to Jumeirah, then check this place for breakfast, brunch before 2pm and lunch and of course coffee in a Spanish style villa setting.

Enjoy.

Drinking Coffee at Khorfakkan: Medellin

You’re probably thinking “where the h**l is this?”. In short, Khorfakkan is a sleepy beach town in Sharjah (a UAE emirate, next to Dubai), but a stone throw away from Dibba in Fujairah (another UAE emirate).

Address Beach Resort

So, why was I here? We had a family staycation (a vacation that takes place in the same country that you live in) at a fantastic beach resort in Fujairah in late August. I’ve posted my coffee experience at the beach resort on instagram, which got almost 10,000 views but in summary, it still bothers me how hotels and restaurants spend so much time and training in sourcing the best ingredients but when it comes to coffee, they literally fall apart – sourcing coffee from big commercial brands, where taste has been sacrificed just to make as much money as possible. I digress.

So, in my quest not to sacrifice my taste buds even for 3 days for well prepared speciality coffee, I announced to the family “lets go over to Khorfakkan Beach and see what’s there”.

Now, if you know me, you’d kind of guess that I already done some research on speciality coffee in Khorfakkan. But I’m not that bad, as last year we also went there but it was a lot busier and I got to go on a jet-ski for the first time in my life, twice. However, this year and perhaps because it was on the weekday…. it was completely dead silent – not a soul on the beach. So, we decided to leave our beach gear in the car and look for somewhere to sit….

“I think there’s specialty coffee somewhere near”….. I smell a rat…. no, I smell coffee. LOL!

Upon entering the very empty coffee shop, named Medellin (yes, Colombia comes to mind), I noticed their espresso machine – a Synesso, quizzed the barista and saw that the coffee shop already had an award. As soon as I was informed that they stock Espresso Lab coffee (one of my faves in Dubai), I was convinced, as I know that Espresso Lab won’t sell their coffee to anyone without intensive training. I opted for the Indonesian as a Cortado.

Delicious

Oh wow! the hints of cherry and caramel with subtle hints of vanilla completely blew me away. It was indeed such a pleasant experience (if not I won’t be bothering wasting my time writing about this here). I sipped it gently….

After all make the good stuff last.

We took pictures of the cafe, chilled for a bit and then headed back to our plush beach resort for a late evening swim.

I was so fascinated by the taste that upon my return to Dubai, I went to Espresso Lab and ordered the same Indonesian arabica beans as a Cortado or should I say their 3 ounce.

Still just as delicious.

So, if you are craving well prepared specialty coffee and are within 15-25 minutes away from Khorfakkan Beach, please drive there and you won’t be disappointed believe you me.

Medellin is at Khorfakkan Beach, near the second entrance for paid parking – not too far from Baskin Robbins. It usually gets busy between 6-10pm and is open until 1am daily (whoa!)

9 places to drink coffee in London in 2022

Drinking Coffee in London

Last month I had the pleasure of my palate and my inquisitiveness to visit London and naturally took the opportunity to visit as many cafes as I could, whilst visiting some tried and tested ones too in the process. Despite having scorching temperatures with the hottest day ever recorded in London at 40C, I wasn’t discouraged on drinking my coffee hot nevertheless. One proviso – I was in around the West End a lot, so most of these cafes are near Oxford Street. So here we go.

Omotesando, 8 Newman Street, off Oxford Street (new)

Famous in Japan and not with an outlet in London, Omotesando has a very Japanese minimalist design. As you enter you are greeted with their loge in a kind of lobby space before you turn right into the cafe, decorated with wood and clean lines, decked with a La Marzocco Strada espresso machine. The coffee is more on the darkly roasted style, so probably best with milk, which is what I had – a flat white.

Hints of chocolate and caramel if my taste buds memory serves me well.

Workshop, St Christopher’s Place, off Oxford Street (classic)

I’ve been here many times since they opened several years ago and on this very hot day – it was 38C, I knew I needed “hot” coffee after wandering the streets of London looking for a birthday card for my mum (hint: it is now very difficult to buy a physical birthday card in London). I opted for a filter cup using Ethiopian beans as I wanted something fruity to refuel my body before my search. To be honest the barista wasn’t very attentive – perhaps he was suffering from the heat but luckily I knew that the coffee would be roasted and their non-committed method – using the toddy, wouldn’t extract too much effort in preparing my delicious tasting coffee.

Blank Street, Charlotte Street, off Oxford Street (new)

A taste of Brooklyn, NYC in London is how I would start this report. In short, Blank Street are quite famous in New York and have landed in London in a big way, with plans to open a few shops – they have a few in London already and I later found out that my son’s friend works for them. I was drawn to the colours of the brand I must confess and upon entering and not spotting a manual espresso machine I was about to leave, when the very friendly barista offered to serve me. After sharing that I was thinking of not ordering because of my snobbish preference for manually brewed coffee, he convinced me to try an espresso on their unique automatic machine for FREE – how could I say no.

I must confess this is probably the best looking and tasting espresso I have had on an automatic machine. I’m guessing they manually pour their milk and they have a few healthy options on their menu to tempt the trendy healthy types to make this their main to-go.

Kaffeine, Great Titchfield Street, off Oxford Street (classic)

A classic mainstay on the London specialty coffee scene, Kaffeine won best European coffee shop during their honeymoon years. Nevertheless , they still serve Squaremile coffee and prepare coffee properly. Again. it was a very busy hot day – this was the 40C day and we no air conditioner in cafes in London generally, the staff were a bit frazzled, making me a bit nervous when I placed my order for a cortado.

Glad that the heat and the business of the cafe didn’t disappoint and I’m glad that I satisfied my coffee craving that day here.

Kiss the Hippo, Canal Square, near Kings Cross (new)

Moving away from the West End now as our daughter wanted to show us another “happening” enclave in London, Canal Square in Kings Cross is an enclave of restaurants, a food market serving exotic foods and the future home of FaceBook HQ, London. On our way to discovering, I spotted this little pop-up cafe and instantly noticed the name, which I have known for a few years now. I went for a cortado – it was 37C

Nice and creamy with hints of milk chocolate and recommended if you are visiting Kings Cross, which also has Caravan – see next post.

Caravan, Granary Square, (classic)

I must confess, I didn’t have coffee here as I had just had coffee at kiss the hippo but nevertheless having coffee here will not disappoint. They have a huge space which incorporates a roastery (the inspiration for many coffee shops in London and beyond) a full restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had brunch and then I went in to look around and bought two bags of coffee (see previous post for my experience ).

Highly recommended for specialty coffee and dining, plus they have a great online store (I ordered many times when I lived in Europe).

Lantana, 13 Charlotte Street, off Goodge Street and near Oxford Street (classic)

Another one of London’s mainstay in the speciality coffee scene but one I never visited due to logistical reasons. They are famous for their breakfast and brunches and of course Aussie style coffees. This was literally my last experience on speciality coffee in London on my trip. As it was a nice summer’s day, we sat outside but inside is very cosy and I can imagine queues forming on a cold and windy day, as I had initially wanted to come here for breakfast but that’s another story. I decided to order a coffee and cake.

I must confess I sent my first cortado back as I didn’t like the infusion between the milk and espresso, but the second one was worth the fussiness.

Kafi Cafe inside LUSH, Oxford Street (new)

I heard about this cafe when scrolling through HasBean instagram feed and was shocked to know that there was actually speciality coffee shop on Oxford Street itself (the rents are crazy). In short, HasBean is one of the most respected coffee roasters in England, haling from the very northern part, Huddersfield so I was excited to taste their coffees after several years (I used to order online several years ago). Located on the first floor of LUSH – a very smelly soap shop – you will be greeted at the top of the stirs with an array of coffee to your left and a lime green Black Eagle espresso machine. I ordered a cortado as usual (this is the main coffee I order if I’m craving milk based but want a higher proportion of coffee in the afternoon).

Nice cup of coffee using Ethiopian beans with hints of fruit and caramel. Kafi actually have a bigger shop located a few minutes away at 20 Cleveland Street. Highly recommended.

Grind at Soho, 19 Beak Street, off Carnaby Street (classic)

I’ve been here many times when I’ve been in the area craving specialty coffee and so this time was the same. Again I went for a cortado or as it a short cortado

The barista wasn’t the friendliest – I’m not sure if Brexit and the service based industry is doing well with grumpy baristi and n general service staff. I digress but back to the coffee. Yes it was nice and once the barista saw that I was enjoying it, she was a bit more receptive, asking what I thought. Luckily for me I prioritise substance over fluffiness.

In summary, you will be spoilt for choice when you visit London, which host tons of specialty coffee shops. They may not be the friendliest, as I have become accustomed to very friendly baristi customer service in cafes in Dubai but they will be passionate about preparing your cup of coffee – just don’t film them without permission nor expect to chat with them about the coffee and more.

I’m Drinking the Sweetest Filter Coffee I ever had

I just got back from London and bought a few coffee bags from some London coffee roasters and first up on the filter was for Caravan Coffee Roasters. I selected a natural from Guatemala from their filter selection because I always find naturals more intriguing and especially more so from Central America, as naturals are quite rare from this part of the coffee growing world.

I brewed La Nueva Natural Guatemala on the Hario V60 as I have missed… yes, I had missed brewing coffee on a V60 for two weeks. Using a menu of

  • 15.3 g freshly ground coffee on my Wilfa Grinder
  • 94C on my fellow EKG kettle
  • First pour of 43ml
  • Wait for 40 seconds
  • Second pour all the way to 227ml of water

I decided to serve myself using a glass cup as opposed to a ceramic. I guess I thought I’d like to accentuate the sweetness of this cup as much as possible and yes I was comely taken aback.

My first sip just blew my taste buds away with the poignant sweetness, almost white sugar like, with hints of caramel. It was so sweet that I was just sitting down for a few seconds wandering if I had added something to the cup by mistake.

The bag mentions taste notes of brioche ( the classic sweet French bread, using lots of eggs and butter with sugar), flaked almonds and blueberry.

For me,

🔵 it was more like a sweeter berry (blueberries aren’t that sweet)

🔵 white sugar with hints of caramel 😋

On the second day, I served myself the coffee in a ceramic cup, and then the notes were more balanced, with cane type sugar and darker berries … perhaps blueberry 🫐

If you’re in the UK, I strongly encourage you to order this one of a kind sweet coffee (link above) as Caravan usually offer free delivery for orders over GBP20 and deliver very fast, based on when the UK was in the EU and I used to order to Vienna.

Can drinking coffee make you live longer?

Aha!

In summary, the researchers analyzed demographic, lifestyle and dietary information collected from more than 170,000 people between the ages of 37 and 73 over a median follow-up period of 7 years.

As mentioned on my website (see bio) , coffee has a lot of #antioxidants, which can prevent or delay cell damage, as confirmed by Dr Goldberg. In the article, Beth Czerwony, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition in Ohio, added that #antioxidants can help break down free radicals that cause damage to cells. She added that

“Over time, a buildup of free radicals can increase inflammation in the body, which can cause plaque formation related to heart disease, she said, so dietitians recommend consuming foods and beverages that are rich in antioxidants.”

New York Times Article

The study mentions that the main threshold is 3-4 cups of coffee per day. I usually drink 3 cups, one per meal.

Obviously caramel lattes that contain a reportedly 25g of sugar don’t qualify 🥺 and I’d like to add that drinking good coffee well prepared would probably help too.

I’ve been trying to get my wife to drink coffee for 17 years and she recently started having one small cup a day when I launched my coffee escapecaffe now available here . Here’s to a longer healthier life with great #coffee God willing. 😊
.

A New Coffee Shop in Dubai Mall: Hoof

Welcome

It seems like things just seem to get better with specialty coffee in Dubai. Back in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, people were asking me why I was moving to Dubai. Now, if I had said I was moving for the coffee, they would have laughed… but fast forward to 2022 and this could have been quite a credible decision.

I recall a few years ago I had a sort of “best coffee in a mall” award, which started with Caffe Del Doge in Cairo in 2008 (yes, 14 years ago) and which was subsequently won by cafes in Dubai, firstly with Common Ground, Mall of the Emirates. In fact my last post was a great contender, with not just a coffee shop but a roastery too. So, here we are with another contender, a coffee shop located in the largest shopping mall in the World, Dubai Mall.

Recently opened in Dubai Mall is Hoof, located in the very fancy Fashion Avenue on the top floor of Dubai Mall. A digression – Fashion Avenue is the part of Dubai Mall that has all the high end fashion designers like Dior, Gucci, Rolex, Prada, Cartier and Hermes just in case you want some guide posts.

Back to the coffee – I heard about Hoof whilst scanning through instagram during my trip to Marrakech and although I knew it was opening I didn’t even know it was live. So the very next day, after I arrived back in Dubai, I went to try it out and shamelessly I have to confess, I went thrice in 10 days. After all it is just around the corner from where I live.

As you enter, it is like an escape as the decor reminds me of a cave with what even looks like cave material – whatever that means – but it means stone. You can tell by the aesthetics that a lot of thought was given into designing this space, with the selection of the wood for the furniture, the arrangement of the place and the ambience. Their espresso machine is a Black Eagle and they usually play jazz.

They have a very minimalist look with a menu to go with it too. A small selection of breakfast items, served all day, together with desserts, puddings (very British ) and of course coffee, hailing from Sharjah’s premier roaster, Archers – known for sourcing fine coffees. For filter you can select a coffee scoring at 88-89 (very good) or 90+ (excellent) with a price variation of $8 to $16. On my first visit, I tried their 88+ coffees (Rwanda I think)

Beautifully served with attention to detail

On my second trip, I went for breakfast with a friend and I had their shakshouka, (eggs cooked in a tomato stew) which I rarely order, as my wife loves me making this for her almost every Saturday but this was just right – not too watery, and delicately flavoured.

I started this with their cortado. Usually when I go out in the morning, I have my coffee first but at home it is always after my meal.

The rabbit latteart

On my last visit, my wife and I went for dessert and I had the coconut pudding and she the chocolate fondant, which I see was very popular. Naturally, I finished it off with some filter coffee.

Hoof is a real “cove” of a place, where you can drink coffee like an ESCAPIST, so when you are visiting Dubai Mall and want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the shoppers, head over to the Fashion Avenue third level and visit Hoof and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Before I sign off, we asked why the name Hoof, and we were told that the owner loves horses and hence the “hoof” of the horse. I hope his horses appreciate this gesture.

Have you ever been to a Coffee Roastery in a Mall?

Well, the answer for me is YES… and perhaps I should add, only in Dubai.

Just last week, I was meeting a friend at the Galleria Mall in al Barsha, Dubai (the neighbourhood behind the Mall of the Emirates – the one with the ski slope) and upon entering I saw a coffee shop, La Gente.

La Gente Dubai

Always the sceptical coffee snob, I decided to pop my head in, where I saw a Synesso machine to my right, lots of roasted coffee in retail bags, coupled with their black and grey marble interior. On the left they have seating on high tables but they also have seats outside the coffee shop. I then walked further in and spotted this….

Probat 12kg

A Probat (think, Mercedes of coffee roasters and yes, it’s made in Germany). Impressed I promptly asked “do you actually roast coffee in this machine in this mall?” and they replied “yes sir”. So, I thought “I can’t really come in here, quiz them and not order coffee”. So as soon as my friend joined me, we went for it together with some cakes… blueberry, ummm!.

First up, they have a variety of coffee on order. For espresso, they had a Brazil, which my friend took and then I asked them for their house blend… Brazil, Ethiopia and Costa Rica… aha! now this might not seem exciting to you BUT for me it was, why ?

Lets rewind to 2008-2009 – this was the era of espresso blends – the time before single origin was even thought off for espresso.

so, fast forward to 2022 and the main reasons why I was excited by this blend is because this exact combination was indeed the flavour of the years back then, because you used

Brazil for body, crema and chocolate and nut

Costa Rica for acidity

Ethiopia for fruitiness

so, now guess what I ordered …

A cortado using their house blend of course, with some kind of seahorse on the latte art design.

Yes, it was flavourful as I got to sample a mirage of fruit, medium acidity and hints of almond and dark chocolate.

If I’m ever at that end of Dubai again, I’ll try their filter blend options, for which they were offering three options.. see below

La Gente brew bar

Apparently they have three branches, Galleria Mall, where I went, Eden House and Motorworks.

I was at Bacha Coffee, Marrakech

The drink of the escapist

I often refer to coffee as the DRINK OF THE ESCAPIST because it’s a drink that you can drink almost anywhere in the World BUT more so, it inspires you for adventure, where you visit a new city and want to learn about their coffee history to. So, here I was in Marrakech, just last week and after painstakingly looking for specialty coffee, I found this recommendation in the Timeout guide to 16 things to do in Marrakech.

La Mamounia – a beautiful hotel

As a coffee snob (what my family call me), I was a bit sceptical – after all Morocco café culture ironically literally orbits around Moroccan mint green tea. Yes, there are many places calling themselves cafes, but don’t expect to be served wonderful coffee that delights your taste buds – trust me, just order tea. Nevertheless, there was one exception, BACHA Coffee, situated in the the spectacular Dar el Bacha Palace, which means “house of the Pasha”. A place steeped in coffee history, built in 1910, where dignitaries such as Winston Churchill and Frank Roosevelt (past leaders of the UK and America for history agnostics) and even the famous Charlie Chaplin used to meet to drink…. Coffee and discuss ideas – the drink of the escapist and idealists.

In any case, after the second world war it was closed and only reopened in 2019 after years of restoration. It has now reclaimed its place as a stalwart of Marrakech attractions. To enter the palace, you have to pay 10 Moroccan dirham (I hear complaints) but this is only $1.

The entrance to the palace

As you make your way through the palace, feel free to take pictures like I did, you will eventually get to the café, situated in the left-hand corner. Prior to entering, you will notice a coffee room, with walls lined with 40+ selection of coffee from around the world comprising of single origins, blends and new coffee growing countries (I.e., Rwanda) for you to buy as well as other luxury items.

Choose one

A word of advice, go into the reception of the coffee shop and reserve a table first as there will be a waiting list if you go in the kid-afternoon. After which, wander around the palace. I didn’t do that and was told I may have to wait for about 30-40 minutes (I don’t remember ever queuing for coffee in any city before). Luckily, I didn’t have to wait too long as I met a fellow coffee geek, Abigail (world traveler) who offered to share her table with me. She then entrusted me to order coffee as she could detect my coffee geekiness.

You’ll also be spoilt for choice inside with a full menu, delectable cakes and over 40 coffees to choose from in a classic French colonial setting BUT don’t expect any caffe lattes or cappuccinos here, as all coffees are pour over, served in a very generous decanter – enough for 3 cups at least. I ordered lemon cake and coffees from Yemen and Rwanda.

Pouring coffee

I find that you can never go wrong with coffee from Rwanda – it was fruity, with medium acidity, whilst the Yemeni coffee got better as it cooled down with hints of berries and chocolate.

The interior

After relaxing for about 1-2 hours, I went to the coffee shop to buy the Yemeni coffee, because it is quite rare. I miscalculated or misheard the shop attendant and when he presented the bill of US$85 for 250g, I was a bit shocked, but proceeded in any case. I added unbleached V60 filter bags, as it will supposedly give me a cleaner unadulterated taste.

Would I go back ? Yes of course, probably for a meal and of course more coffee when I visit Marrakech again.

Highly recommended for coffee enthusiasts and novices alike, who want to drink coffee like an escapist in a Palace like setting.

Visit their website to learn more and if you can’t make it to Marrakech, you can visit their other shops in Paris and Singapore or order online.

The Best Smelling Cortado I ever had

As soon as Ramadhan finished in May 2022, I rushed to meet a friend at one of my fave cafes in Dubai, Qahwaty at the Dubai International Financial Centre (known as DIFC), which hosts as many international companies you can think off. As I waited for a friend, the head barista , Dhani, hailing from Indonesia asked me what I thought about my cortado and I replied that it was fine. Unimpressed with my answer, I think, he then asked me what I love to taste in espresso based coffee with milk and I said… “well balanced, low-to-medium acidity, not too much fruit, hints of nuts and spices like vanilla (actually like my blend) and then he said, “okay I’m going to prepare something for you”

As I waited and sipped my cortado, he presented this…

Upon raising the cup to my mouth, I was hit by the smell of tropical fruits like mango and banana (now, these are one of my five favourite fruits – the rest are pineapple, strawberries and pear, in case you were wondering). Okay I digress.

BUT did you know that 80% of our taste buds come from our sense of smell ? If you don’t believe me, just google it here. It’s what I also learnt when I did the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Sensory Skills course in June last year.

So, you can imagine the anticipation of my taste buds when I smelt this tropical nirvana. As I tasted the coffee, I detected hints of pineapple acidity and although the coffee smelt like a topical paradise, the taste was a lot more subdued – I can’t imagine a banana, mango coffee milkshake with hot milk….

BUT I was not disappointed, as I rejected my earlier cortado in favour of this myriad of flavours in a cup. Wow, wow, wow – said thrice for excitement.

Of course I questioned Dhani about what he did as he was delighted with my response. In short he created a blend of coffee on the spot using Colombian coffee and Brazil from two different roasters based in Dubai.

Wow!

I just thank God for this experience which I won’t forget for the rest of my life.

Indeed the best smelling milk based espresso drink I have ever had. Here it is one more time

If you are ever in the DIFC area, look out for them – a small coffee shop located outside the gate village, first floor, in front off the Ritz Carlton, opposite Wild and Moon and not too far from ICD Brookfield.

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