Getting a Good Cup of Coffee in Dubai: RAW Coffee Company


When you think of Dubai, you may think of Toobuy and many moons ago, when I thought about opening up a speciality coffee shop somewhere in the World, I thought about Dubai. Well, why not – they had big shopping malls, flashy cars, the best paid expatriates with tons of perks, a growing coffee lifestyle market, the highest amount of 5 starts hotels with the highest occupancy rates in the World at that time and even now the tallest building in the World, BUT they didn’t have good coffee.


Sure, all the major coffee chains from the UK and the US are there but still, not good coffee. So, I thought, let’s break the bean and start something special. In any case, as you know, I chose Cape Town to pursue my dream (I sold Escape Caffe in February this year) but I’m glad to report that someone else beat me to it a few years back, RAW Coffee – at this moment, the only speciality coffee operator in Dubai, focusing on sourcing fair trade and organic coffees and roasted locally in Dubai – located at Warehouse 10, Al Manara, al Quoz – in an industrial complex of the very busy Shaykh Zayed Road.

I like what they’ve done with the place to make it feel more authentic – first of all it’s in a converted warehouse – as you enter on the left, there’s the La Marzocco Strada machine to make espresso based coffee and other gadgets as well as a brew bar with an Uber boiler to help make pour-over coffee.



On the right they have a “green” living wall and some chairs. Walking through to the back, on the left hand side of the warehouse/shop, there’s a glass enclave featuring not one, but three coffee roasters – so they import and roast all their coffees (When the proprietor, Kim started, she only had one Probat, now she’s expanded to another two, a giant 18kg Coffee Tool roaster and a smaller Dietrich sample roaster).


I think the main reason for this is that they also supply some restaurants – a list of their customers is on their website. Dotted around on the ground floor to add more authenticity are heaps of green coffee sacks. Right at the back of the shop, there are some stairs to a small sitting and workshop area at the top, overlooking the rest of the shop. You can sit and drink coffee from a very authentic solid wood table or relax on some bean bags. In any case, if there’s more than 4 of you, I would recommended sitting upstairs and chilling out.

Now, to the coffee. Upon entry, I ordered a flat white as I usually do to test out their milk frothing and latte art skills. I noticed that another customer was very impressed with the latte art as he kept looking at it and I silently thought “Erm! I know this is new to you, but eventually you’re going to have to drink it”.


Lots more people, mainly expatriates, shuffled in briefly to buy bags of coffee. For my second test – I usually order a pour over to test the roasters skill with the bean and have to confess, I thought the coffee a little too darkly roasted for me – it was good with milk but as a pour over, pure black, slightly bitter with no delicate notes picked up. I quizzed the barista present as to how he prepared my coffee and in conclusion the water was too hot (over 92C) and the dimensions (20g with 200ml water) way too high. He apologises profusely and my cousin, accompanying me for his first speciality latte (he is used to chain style coffee) bought two 500g bags of coffee for me to take back to Vienna, so that appeased the barista somewhat.

I would have loved to have met Kim but it was Friday afternoon and I guess her time off.

In any case, to the best of my knowledge, if you want a speciality coffee experience in glitzy and flashy glass skyscrapers Dubai, I recommend you escape into RAW coffee.

Visit them online at to order coffee and get directions to where they are. They’re open 7 days a week; offer barista courses and sell all types of equipment for the very keen home barista.




Bean There – Dean & Deluca, Dubai

Following up on my promise, made in my post of 17 October 2008, to update you on the new Dean & Deluca Cafe, which recently opened in Dubai, I was lucky enough on my way back from Sudan (last post) to Vienna, to stopover in Dubai and as I didn’t want to let my readers down (what few they are), here’s my brief story of my visit.

I don’t want to go into too much details, but Dean & Deluca are a famous New York Cafe/Deli, with international branches in Japan only, until the branch, situated at the Souk-al-Bahar, Old Town Commercial Island, Burj Dubai, opened in Dubai this year. The Souk-al-Bahar is designed internally to look like, wait for it, an old Arabian souk (i.e a group of street shops in English). It’s quite a new place, dotted with shops you will recognise and with expensive souvenirs with dark calm interiors.

Dean & Deluca have got a really great spot in the Souk al-Bahar as it is one of a very few eating spots to have an outside balcony. Inside the shop is your typical black and white New York Deli interior and furniture. They’ve got a La Marzocco coffee machine and as it was still before 12pm, I decided to order a cappuccino. I ordered a regular, but was surprised by the rather biggish size of what I got, more for me I thought, unless they thought I was some kind of reviewer, but I wasn’t dressed as one. In any case, as usual I did my “Hey ! please tamp my coffee grounds properly before you place it into the porta-filter” routine and the barista kinda got the idea that I was serious about my coffee, even going as far to ask if I wanted milk with less fat in it for my frothed milk – of course I said no, as I only like the good full fat stuff. In any case, the coffee wasn’t bad, strongish enough to taste it with all that frothed milk.

The counter is decorated with colourful fairy cakes and they also have a shelf of some tasty bits and pieces right in front of the barista counter. Of course they sell their own brand/roast of coffee, which make lovely gifts as they are nicely packaged, but as a bit of a fuss pot and seeing that they were roasted in mid-June 2008 and it was December 2008, I resisted temptation and just took a picture of the shelf.

If you want to sit outside in the cooler months, which runs from about November to April, then their balcony sitting area is quite nice.

However, if that wasn’t enough and you are into a bit of sight seeing, then Dean & Deluca have the best spot to view the tallest building in the World, the Burj, which sits right in front of the balcony sitting area, Wow !

I recommend Dean & Deluca for a nice place to sit, eat breakfast and enjoy coffee – it is definitely on the list for my “drinking like an escapist” along the lines of “drinking African/South American coffee in a New York style deli in an Arabian dessert/sea resort in front of the tallest building in the World” Now Escape………and I think you get the picture of the place quite literally.

%d bloggers like this: