The seven emirates of coffee: 8 specialty cafes to try across the UAE
We've included a bonus one in Al Ain because it's just too pretty to exclude
The specialty coffee scene in the UAE has boomed over the past five or so years, and there are now an abundance of places that take the origin of a bean or the depth of a roast very seriously.
Another marker of many specialty coffee shops is design: the space should be as pretty as the crema is smooth.
So, as today is International Coffee Day, to celebrate we've laid out a coffee spot to try in each of the seven emirates, plus a bonus one in Al Ain.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but more of a a taster of each emirate's coffee scene: head here for a more detailed guide to specialty coffee in the UAE.
Abu Dhabi: DRVN Coffee
If you like cars as much as you like coffee, you'll love this spot in Abu Dhabi's Embassies District that's near the Carrefour on Airport Road, which also serves authentic Neapolitan pizza. There are always rare and vintage cars on display and the coffee beans are roasted in-house. There's also a range of non-dairy milks on offer, as well as all the brews you'd expect at a specialty coffee house.
Interestingly, the cafe also serves a pine nut coffee (a double shot of espresso with milk and a sprinkling of whole pine nuts). We give that an A for originality.
8am-midnight, Saif Ghobash Street, 02 441 7774
And also in Abu Dhabi... Al Ain: La Petite Cafe
We loathe to call a cafe 'Instagrammable' as it's so overdone, but the achingly-cool minimalist interiors of Petite Cafe in Al Ain are truly an Instagram fan's dream. With a gorgeous rose-pink counter and restrained use of pastels, the space is calming and contemporary.
As for what's on the menu, it serves all the classics of specialty coffee, and you can even order its cold brew by the litre. Food wise, expect avocado toast, cookes, acai, and other such cafe classics.
7am-midnight, Building 9, Al Ain Square, 050 689 4844
Ajman: Black Doze
Opened in 2017, this friendly little cafe takes specialty coffee very seriously. Food wise, expect croissants and pastel de natas, as well as the classic dessert of the UAE coffee shop, milk cake.
The beans the cafe uses are from a London roster called Square Mile. If you fancy a refreshing yet distinctly bitter coffee hit, try its espresso tonic:
Dubai: Number 5
You'll struggle to find a city block in certain parts of Dubai that isn't home to a specialty coffee shop (think Jumeirah, Al Quoz, Mirdif). From UAE-roasts at Nightjar to Australian-roasted beans at cute little cafe To The Moon & Back to German beans at the perennially popular Brew, there is something for everyone.
One particularly slick spot is Number 5 on Al Wasl Road, which serves a refined and simple coffee menu (they don't have lactose free milk) and is also known for making a mean cinnamon roll.
8am-10pm, Al Wasl Road (near Al Manara), 04 880 0899
Named after the Danish word for chillaxing, what a namesake, this cafe is in Al Aqah, near the beaches of Fujairah. It often has 'guest' coffee beans, so regulars get to try a range of brews and has beautifully beach-inspired interiors.
The cafe is on the road next to the major beach resorts close to Al Boom Diving.
9am-11pm, Rugaylat Road, 056 109 1417
Ras Al Khaimah: Hoof
There is a Hoof cafe in both Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, but the RAK branch's interiors are the dreamiest. With textured plaster walls and sinks that look like troughs, the cafe looks like a stable as dreamed up by an LA minimalist. Its dedication to sparseness will appeal to aesthetes.
The menu features coffee classics, as well as refreshing drinks such as iced hibiscus and cascara. Food wise, it's all about pastries and dessert, as is typical of the specialty coffee scene in the UAE.
7am-11pm, Grove Village, 07 235 9488
A new kid on the Sharjah block, this cafe features simple but stylish interiors and offers all the coffee options you need, including the ubiquitous Spanish latte. It also serves fresh croissants of the plain, cheese and zaatar variety and acai bowls.
6am-11pm, Al Layyeh, 050 796 0962
Umm Al Quwain: Tap
This coffee spot combines two of the key modern traditions of the UAE food scene: specialty coffee and the option of drive-thru. While you'll often see people drive up to coffee shops to order their brews, this one features an actual bonafide drive-thru lane.
On the coffee front, it serves everything, including cold drip. Food wise you'll find a lot of sweet stuff, from acai to rangeena. While the drive-thru is handy, the interiors featuring raw concrete and natural tones are worth getting out of the car for.
6.30am-11pm, Al Huboob, 050 771 0364
Updated: September 30, 2020 06:56 PM