New online coffee store launches in Dubai complete with a virtual barista

BeanBurds aims to be a one-stop shop for people to learn about all things coffee, and then order speciality beans from local roasters

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - January 25th, 2018: ÔThe new wave of Emirati coffee cultureÕ Ð a look at the popularity of specialist coffee stores. Thursday, January 25th, 2018 at Drop, Dar Wasl, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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If the popularity of Dalgona coffee during self-isolation has taught us anything, it's that people really do love their daily cup of joe.

And, since heading out to the local Starbucks isn't as easy or simple as it once was, you can now have your favourite coffee delivered to your doorstep. BeanBurds, a new digital platform that aims to be a one-stop-shop to help customers learn about and place orders for specialty beans, opened for business in the UAE on Thursday, May 7.

“Before this, if anyone wanted to purchase coffee beans, they would have to find a coffee shop, go there, try the beans by drinking a cup and then repeat the process if they don’t like it and want to try another shop. It is cumbersome," says Salem Ahmed, founder and chief executive.

"What we wanted to do was create one platform that is dedicated to coffee beans, while educating people on different flavour profiles. We then ‘fly’ the beans over to them.”

The website has been designed to suit the needs of someone who doesn’t know a thing about coffee, says Ahmed. One of the ways it does this is with the help of Lena, a virtual barista, who asks users questions that include "What do you usually enjoy eating for breakfast?" and "How do you like to spend your days off?"

Lena then pairs customers up with the flavour profile that best fits their preferences. Users can sort through coffee based on country of origin, roast levels, flavour notes, roasters and price points before adding it to their cart and checking out. According to Ahmed, Lena has been created after speaking to real-life baristas.

They offer delivery across the UAE and take about two to three working days.

BeanBurds is a UAE platform for coffee enthusiasts to purchase premium, roasted and ground coffee beans and have it delivered to their door. Courtesy of BeanBurds

Ahmed says the idea for the platform came to him through his own experiences with coffee. “When I first started drinking it, I hated it. But while studying architecture in the US, there was a big ‘all-nighter’ culture, so I inevitably got into coffee drinking.

"Through years of trying coffee around the world, I realised that it's similar to food – everything from where it comes from to how it is prepared changes the flavour profile. We have so many great options out there, almost 60 roasters in the UAE itself, and [I] wanted it all on one platform," he says.

BeanBurds has partnered with roasters across the UAE including Coffee Planet, Emirati Coffee Roastery, Gold Box Coffee Roasters, Nightjar Coffee Roaster, Nusantara Coffee Roasters, Orbis Coffee Roastery and more.

“Quality comes from local brands,” says Ahmed. “For them, it isn’t about mass producing. We are looking forward to taking things further by sitting down and creating content with them in the future.”

The platform aims to do this by having online workshops and sessions educating their customers in the months to come. Ahmed adds the brand, which is two months in the making, wasn't originally scheduled to launch during the pandemic, but is all the more relevant today.

"The world of coffee can be confusing and complex, and we wanted to help people gain access to it without having to leave their homes during these times."