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.

I’m Drinking Square Mile Coffees

Yes ! It’s finally here, after several months of waiting, Square Mile Coffee Roasters have now started roasting specials coffees for sale. OK ! a brief history as to why I’m excited by this particular coffee roasters – the 2007 and 2008 World Barista Champions, James Hoffmann and Stephen Morrissey respectively together with another lady – I think her name is Anette – teamed up and because of their love of coffee, I guess, decided to take this to the next level and opened up a coffee roaster in London. They do mail order all over the World, which suits me fine, because with the current currency crisis, it is now about the same price for me to order coffee from London, including postage and packaging as it is for me to buy my current 1.2 kg monthly consumption of coffee in Vienna. On coffee sizes, Square Mile sell a minimum of 350g sizes and on my first order, I was able to order my monthly supply in 3 bags, which took a very impressive 3 days to arrive.

They also roast twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays, so try and place an order about one week before you want to drink it, so that when it arrives, it has “de-gassed” for a recommended one week before you start extracting it. For more about Square Mile Coffee Roasters, please visit their website on http://shop.squaremilecoffee.com/ or just click on my blogroll to the left.

Now to the coffee. I’m not going to go into too much detail but I will just give you a taster of my experience and in a move away from tradition, use some wonderful shots of the stuff to reflect my tasting experience. My first experience was actually at Flat White in December 2008 during my last visit to London, as Square Mile now supply the coffee for Flat White. I bought a 350g bag for me to take back to Vienna, which I think contained some Central American coffee (secret blend, which Square Mile were not disclosing when I asked naturally). Why Central America ? Well ! from my experience I find Central American coffees really blend with well poured milk based espresso drinks.

Still with blends, Square Mile naturally have their Winter Espresso blend, but not wanting to hide anything and I must confess, this is the first time I have seen a roaster disclose the composition of their blends, they show you right on the packet what’s in their blend.

 

Winter Espresso Blend
Winter Espresso Blend

Naturally, it’s nice, clean, sweet, dark and rich espresso, with complex tones for me, and during the last big snowfall, I was inspired to rush out and take this pic, naturally called Winter Espresso “Blue” – the blue is for the wonderful blue sky that reflected on the snow white of the cup and the snow.

Now, a coffee that features rather little in the Winter Espresso blend is the Muchoki Peaberry from Kenya, which had a tart cherry taste for me when brewed as an espresso. So, I’m going to go out on a limb here and recommend this coffee for filter or Cafetiere style coffee as the strength can be minimised by having a longer contact with water. In any case, to show off the lovely dark colours of this coffee, I took this pic in my new Bodum cup.

Now, off to the other part of the World, Central America, which by going through the coffees on sale at Square Mile, is their favourite pat of the World to get coffee. I’ll start with a mouthful, which I love saying to myself, El Molino de Santa Rita El Salvador. A “nutty” taste for a cappuccino. Still in Central America, we move to Costa Rica, for some the best coffee resides here with high acidity, a clean taste and with complex flavours. I tried two from Square Mile, the first, La Rosa, which unusually has low acidity and one I favoured for cafetiere style coffee after lunch at work.

However, in following with a family tradition, one which my daughter seems to have picked up when eating her favourite food, I’ve saved the best for last and it is…. El Portillo Cup of Excellence – wow !

I haven’t been this excited about a type of coffee for for a while. So, in order to get a really good feel for this coffee, I cleaned out my grinder, studied the beans, which look lovely close up.

 

El Portillo Beans
El Portillo Beans

Got out my La Marzocco Bottomless filter not to miss a moment

 

El Portillo Naked
El Portillo Naked

OK! I’m beginning to sound a little bit OTT here, but life is short and sometimes you’ve just got to be bothered and committed to going all out. I extracted it into my espresso love cup, newly bought for me by my darling wife, just to capture the love of this very special bean.

El Portillo Espresso Love
El Portillo Espresso Love

I liked it so much that as someone that tries to share lovely experiences, took it to work and shared it with colleagues. What was amazing, was that one of my colleagues, who doesn’t really drink speciality coffee, but tastes wine, described the coffee almost to a “T” as described by Square Mile on the package, toffee, caramel, heavy mouth feel and complex. It’s really versatile as a coffee and I mixed it with another Square Mile coffee, Los Luchadores Espresso Pacamara– El Salvador, which made a nice cappuccino and inspired me to pour this little flower.

El Portillo Cappuccino
El Portillo Cappuccino

For me, no doubt it is really special brewed in a cafetiere, which is what I’m doing with it now, after every lunch time. I noticed that it smells like toffee and tastes like caramel and the aroma just permeates my room so much so that any of my colleagues coming into the room notices the lovely aroma. I’ve just checked on Square Mile’s website, but this lovely bean is no more…. all good things must come to an end boo hoo, but I trust that the guys will find a suitable replacement. Buying coffee from Square Mile is highly recommended by moi.

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