Admit it: at some point if your life, you’ve been guilty of ordering a tall-double-shot-half-milk-non-fat-no-foam-no-whip mocha at Starbucks, officially granting you membership into the world’s most entitled (to put it politely) group of coffee drinkers. But what if we told you there were actual coffee experts in Dubai whom you could trust to do all that thinking for you?
With the UAE’s artisanal-coffee culture evolving rapidly, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to next-level roasteries and the use of premium-quality beans. So, the next time you’re craving a caffeine fix, skip your usual daily pit stop at a big-name franchise, and make your way through Savoir Flair’s edit of the most legitimate java joints in the city instead – in honor of International Coffee Day, of course.
Claim to fame: This home-based boutique roastery has stood for ethically sourced and organically certified Arabica beans since its start in 2007.
Its funky warehouse in Al Quoz features a brew bar and an espresso bar complemented by stacks of coffee sacks and a great sound system – and arguably the best java in town. While you’re here, pick up some coffee paraphernalia or sign up for a barista course if you’re feeling particularly ambitious.
Warehouse 10, Al Quoz 1
(+971) 4 339 5474
Claim to fame: This high-end specialty café sells Jamaica Blue Mountain Specialty, allegedly the world’s most expensive coffee.
This hidden gem in Jumeirah promises a cup of coffee that is as Instagrammable as it is ethically minded, creating sustainable trade systems between itself, the farmers (who are primarily women), and their families. The focus here is Ethiopian Geisha and rare single origins.
Al Wasl Road
(+971) 4 321 6455
The Brass Dubai
Claim to fame: The “East Meets West” theme drives everything, from its décor, culture, and menu to the carefully crafted blends.
The Brass boasts an innovative menu with options such as ‘Chocolate Tahini Brioche’ and ‘Sumac Caesar Salad’, all of which reflect the fact that it was built for and by the Dubai community. Just as enticing are its signature beverages that draw inspiration from the city’s diversity – think: ‘Lavender Honey Latte’, ‘Coconut Chai’, and ‘Walnut Sahleb’.
City Walk, Al Safa
(+971) 4 385 6971
The Sum of Us
Claim to fame: That full-fledged Micro Roastery located within? A sight for sore eyes.
The experts at The Sum of Us have travelled far and wide to find the best Arabica beans, roast profiles, and brewing methods to make for the definitive farm-to-cup coffee experience. Pair one of the café’s single-origin coffees with a decadent eclair or cronut by in-house bakery Rise&Dawn Bakehouse and you’ll see why we will never tire of this place. Promise.
Burj Al Salam, 6th Street
(+971) 56 445 7526
The Espresso Lab
Claim to fame: It’s tucked away inside a Pilates studio, which means you’re also guaranteed a spot of peace and quiet.
Relaxed and contemporary in feel, The Espresso Lab prides itself on doing everything by hand, from baking bread to bagging coffee beans. The menu here caters to those who take their caffeine (very) seriously and is therefore devoid of frivolous beverages. The ‘Gibraltar’ – an almost-sweet espresso enhanced by a velvety foamed milk – comes highly recommended.
The Hundred Wellness Center, Jumeirah 1
(+971) 50 421 1188
Walter's Coffee Roastery
Claim to fame: If you know what it’s like to binge on all five seasons of Breaking Bad, this one’s for you.
Dry ice, baristas sporting hazmat suits, and a menu designed to look like the periodic table – it’s all here at this coffee laboratory. But Walter’s is so much more than just theatrics. It claims to have coffee “down to a science”, and you’ll taste the proof in every cup. For a true trip down (TV) memory lane, pair yours with a pancake that has been dusted with icing sugar inspired by Heisenberg himself.
The Dubai Mall
(+971) 4 388 2566
Claim to fame: A congregation point in Al Quoz for coffee roasting, barista training, and the sale of specialty beans and related equipment, Seven Fortunes was inspired by Sufi Baba Budan’s quest for coffee and subsequent pilgrimage to the Middle East in the 16th century.
By now, founder Karim Hassan is well known amongst coffee aficionados due to his relentless passion for hand-crafted beans from places like Costa Rica and Guatemala. While there isn’t a café here per se, there is a special area where you’ll be more than welcome to do a bit of sampling before you make a purchase. Seven Fortunes also supplies Culinary Boutique and Toil & Tinker if you’re out looking for your next fix.
Street 26, Al Quoz 4
(+971) 50 625 2265
Claim to fame: A greenhouse sanctuary complete with single-origin specialty coffee, sweet treats, and leafy surroundings.
While Roseleaf now operates locations in BurJuman Business Tower and Emirates Golf Club, we’re still partial to the one nestled in Dubai Garden Centre – for obvious reasons. Homey in feel, décor, and menu offerings (think: scrambled eggs on sourdough toast and pecan tart), the original outpost is the ideal place for an artisanal flat white and a catch-up with friends.
Dubai Garden Centre
(+971) 4 224 4585
Claim to fame: The use of Valrhona chocolate in its mocha. Enough said.
Brownies, cookies, peanut truffles, matcha-date balls, and more – the decadent homemade desserts at Brew Café pair beautifully with the organic Peruvian coffee served at this tiny yet charming joint in Jumeirah. Look around and you’ll notice a range of eclectic artwork, mason-jar lighting, and (very limited) rustic seating, all of which only add to its coziness factor.
Jumeira Beach Road, Umm Suqeim 2
(+971) 4 331 2333
Claim to fame: The very first Japanese coffee house – by way of Kyoto – to open in the country.
Let’s start with the fact that you can have coffee beans of your choice freshly roasted within eight minutes for you to enjoy at home. If, however, you decide to stay put, the baristas at % Arabica will prepare your coffee just the way you like it – be it drip or with the unique Slayer espresso machine, using the roastery’s signature blend or a choice of numerous single-origin beans from around the world. They (all) also happen to be trained in latte art, so your caffeine kick will look as good as it tastes. Win-win.
City Walk, Al Safa and The Dubai Mall
(+971) 4 321 7251
Claim to fame: Two outdoor terraces, indoor seating, unfinished wood tables, industrial-style accents, and cool California vibes that will make you want to linger.
Another Jumeirah-based café that has done wonders for the coffee-dependent community, Stomping Grounds also serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The star attractions, however, are the meticulously selected beans to choose from and the baristas who know exactly what to do with them. They’ll even go into specifics to help you choose what’s best for you, asking for your preferences in terms of undertones, aroma, body, etc.
Villa 98, Jumeirah 1
(+971) 4 344 4451
Claim to fame: Its sheer Instagrammability.
Pair Depresso’s tagline – “That feeling you get when you’ve run out of coffee” – with the fact that every cup can be coupled with an adorable mini donut for only AED 7/SAR 8 and you’ve got yourself a winner. While the coffee selection here gets pretty creative (the ‘Cereal Latte’ and ‘PinkChoco’ are both delicious), opt for the ‘Frap’ because of its whimsical glass.
Jumeirah Road, Umm Suqeim
(+971) 50 244 5434
Claim to fame: Speakeasy vibes and an in-house roastery.
There’s finally a dedicated space at which to caffeinate in Alserkal Avenue. This recently opened café alternates between a blend or a single-origin lot on a weekly basis, sourcing coffee beans from women’s co-operatives in Burundi, Rwanda, and Colombia. It’s also the official roastery for the likes of Roseleaf Café, Boston Lane, Surf House Dubai, and more. Oh, and there’s nitro cold brew on tap.
Alskerkal Avenue, Al Quoz
(+971) 4 330 6635
Claim to fame: Go for the toasties. Stay for the coffee.
We dare you to find a decent Dubai-based Instagram account without a photo of Boston Lane in it – or a foodie who has yet to rave about its ‘Chase the Cheddar’ toasties. Not only does this all-pink eatery still feel like a hidden gem (it’s tucked away in a picturesque courtyard), but it’s also the perfect place to linger over a cup of coffee – or something a little more inventive, like the ‘Mocha Darling’ (that’s made with date milk) and ‘Orange Is the New Black’ (an iced americano doused with sun-dried orange syrup).
The Courtyard, Al Quoz
(+971) 58 517 2131
Claim to fame: A uniquely named drink and Insta-worthy ceiling make the trip to Mirdif worthwhile.
Name a caffeinated beverage ‘Rough’, and we’re instantly intrigued – as are many of the coffee enthusiasts in the Mirdif vicinity as this one sells out fast. A signature drink at Qahwaty, it pairs a double-shot espresso with milk and a homemade mix of marshmallows and cornflakes. The piccolo, in contrast, is popular with those devoid of a sweet tooth. This understatedly chic café takes coffee seriously; it sources beans from far and wide – Colombia to Ethiopia to Japan – and wins nothing but rave reviews.
Mirdif 35, Mirdif
(+971) 50 709 2079
Claim to fame: Ingenious take on all things latte.
Sponge cake topped with latte sauce, red velvet latte, butterscotch latte, iced-latte popsicles, latte served in cones, and even jelly cubes made of espresso adding a little ‘something extra’ to your latte – need we explicitly say that Kad Ché is the definitive spot for latte loyalists? Need something stronger? The macchiato is the one to beat at this specialty coffee shop.
Building 7, Bay Square, Business Bay
(+971) 4 338 8243
Claim to fame: Award-winning baristas making Dubai’s best Spanish lattes.
It’s often hard to secure a spot at Drop, and for good reason. Granola and popsicles by Hapi, world-class baristas from across the globe, a minimalist design aesthetic, and perfectly executed Spanish lattes mean there’s always no shortage of repeat patrons here. We’re partial to the super smooth ‘Kyoto Slow Drip’ ourselves.
Dar Wasl, Jumeirah
(+971) 54 441 2523
Claim to fame: It’s just so, so, so sleek.
There’s a pool. And a futuristic marble counter that screams Zaha Hadid. And test tubes serving as vases. And a barely-there menu that any coffee enthusiast would respect. Alchemy is about perfecting the art of coffee, sourcing beans from ethical sources, roasting them to perfection, and serving the result in a space that feels like a complete escape from the bustling city outside its walls.
Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah
(+971) 4 344 2466
Promo Photo: Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao