Tom & Serg take their love of coffee to a new level at The Sum of Us

Two years after opening their booming contemporary eatery in an Al Quoz warehouse after leaving Jones The Grocer, the restauranteurs behind Tom & Serg are getting ready to open their second location, The Sum of Us.

Tom Arnel, left, and Sergio Lopez. Reem Mohammed / The National
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Tom Arnel and Sergio Lopez are notoriously unapologetic about turning down customers who order vanilla decaf or soy lattes at their casual dining cafe Tom & Serg in Dubai.

Two years after opening their booming contemporary eatery in an Al Quoz warehouse after leaving Jones the Grocer, their dedication to a premium brew is set to reach new heights in the form of their second urban cafe: The Sum of Us, which is scheduled to open this month on Sheikh Zayed Road, will even roast beans in-house.

“The way we do our coffee reflects the way we think,” says Lopez on a tour this week of the sprawling space, hidden behind The H Hotel.

“It’s the way we like it and the way we think it should be served. We serve it at a temperature between 63 and 65 degrees celsius. We only use full-fat milk, but have included almond milk as a dairy-free option.”

Arnel, the culinary director, says the pair actually set out to control two things from start to finish with their second location: their coffee, of course, and their bread. “I’m a big bread fanatic,” says ­Arnel. “The only things we weren’t doing at Tom & Serg was roasting our own coffee and baking our bread.”

Arnel says they have invested in equipment and staff who will be baking fresh, organic yeast-free sourdough loaves every day, as well.

“You’ll get a lighter, yet denser texture because of the temperature and hydration combination we’ll apply. So there’ll be a slight chew when it’s toasted.”

One thing the duo weren’t looking to do with their much-­anticipated second location was another Tom & Serg.

“We like challenges,” explains Lopez. “The easy thing to do would be to recreate Tom & Serg. But we wanted to create something that hasn’t been approached yet. This place is like an evolution of ourselves, what we’ve learnt and the people we’ve nurtured – our chefs, baristas and managers – in the past two years.”

The cafe has two roasters, capable of producing 10 tonnes of roasted beans each day using organic coffee beans from Raw Coffee Company. They will only be producing small batches for immediate consumption and sale at their cafe.

“We want to create our own blends and in the future want to work with single-origin coffee from South America and Africa,” says Lopez. “Our blends change according to the season and right now we offer Peruvian, Colombian and Ethiopian.”

But it isn’t just the coffee that keeps the two-storey Tom & Serg full on a regular basis. The Sum of Us boasts a similarly innovative, yet fuss-free all-day dining menu. Regulars will also find some of Tom & Serg’s popular dishes on there, such as the confit lamb and quinoa salad.

“I have a pretty short attention span,” says Arnel. “I get bored very easily and keep changing the menu every few weeks. It’ll be the same here as well.

“I’ve kept the menu short but quite balanced. So it doesn’t matter whether you are vegetarian or celiac or interested in any type of food, there will be something you’ll find on there.”

The Sum of Us, which is also a two-level cafe, was designed to blend into the serviced apartments complex it is housed in.

Exposed brick walls are juxtaposed with wooden seating and panels that neatly divide the restaurant into a take-away bar, casual dining area, bakery and coffee roastery. The second level is set up for a more laid-back family experience. The dimly lit interiors are cleverly detailed with existing wrought iron rods and reused scaffolding planks, with natural light streaming in from the concertina windows.

The 300-seat second location, unlike the first, also offers outdoor seating.

“While the concept and set-up is more industrial at Tom & Serg, here there is a more urban vibe,” says Lopez.

The stylish cafe has already created a buzz among foodies in the city. But its owners aren’t resting on their laurels.

“If people have high expectation from our next offering, we have to make sure we live up to it,” says Lopez.

The Sum of Us will open this month for all-day dining from 8am until 10.30pm. Follow on Facebook and Twitter @_thesumofus_ for the exact date