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.

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.

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.

The Myth of Freshly Roasted Coffee Part 2: The Taste Test

Welcome to Part 2 of this myth busting series about Freshly Roasted Coffee… the real test, which relates to how does coffee roasted several months ago, taste. Even though coffee can still smell fantastic, does it taste good too? Have you always been told that after 3-4 weeks of a coffee being roasted it won’t taste nice? A side note – did you know that according to the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), 80% of our taste is reliant on our smell ? Well 🤔 here’s a video debunking that myth as I now prepare and taste a coffee roasted 4 months ago, an Ethiopian coffee roasted for Mokha 1450 – a cafe in Dubai, which I was gifted by its proprietor , Garfield.

My recipe was

15g of freshly ground coffee

225ml of 95C hot filtered water (I use 95C with a ceramic V60 because the ceramic will extract some of the heat – another tip from an expert)

Pour for 50g and then the remaining 175g

Timed pour around 3 minutes max

Have you encountered any other coffee myths that you would like to bust?

Dubai Coffee Faves 1: Typica

So, this is the final part of my series on my fave coffee spots in Dubai and I finish with a bang @typica.uae run by @coffee_limitless (aka Michaela) two times #uaebaristachampion (2018 and just last week 2021) not to mention she got into the semi finals of the recently held @specialtycoffeeassociation #wbc2021 in Milan 👍🏽 Sure, you can be served great #coffee sourced from very special farms across the world 🌍 and I usually opt for a special filter brew but if there’s one drink I’ll recommend, 😌 it’s the champion 🏆 aptly named as the winning drink Michaela served when she won the uae barista trophy in 2018. If you scroll to the second page of this post, one of her barista @hartgomezatienza explains the drink in detail but in short it’s a whirl of flavors in your mouth from pronounced orange to watermelon and a hint of coffee cream, literally a party 💃🏽 in my mouth.

If that’s not enough, as I was about to leave @jason_galinea . told me that they still have some of the beans (Mandela) used by Michaela at the WBC & I was like wow, 😮 I’m away but I pray upon my return Inshallah I’ll taste it before it runs 🏃🏾 out. My only competition are the Dubai based coffee geeks like @sanaveed90 reading this.

Thanks to the team for another wonderful experience.
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dubaicoffee #coffeechampions #coffeeheroes #worldbaristachampionship2021 #specialtycoffee #filtercoffee #coffeevideos #coffeeexperience #coffeeexpert #coffeeblogs #lameenabdulmalik #worldofcoffee #coffeeintheemirates #worldbaristachampionship #coffeelover #coffeeaddict #coffeeshop #coffeedesign

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

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