Break the chains: Great coffee outside of Starbucks

XO Coffee Boutique. (Supplied)
Updated 05 February 2019

Break the chains: Great coffee outside of Starbucks

DUBAI: Whether you like it hot, cold, black, white, dairy-free, foam-free, with extra whipped cream, or any of the other combinations on offer, there’s nothing like a great cup of coffee to set you up for the day. Dubai has witnessed a surge in superb homegrown café concepts in recent times, set up by local java aficionados-turned-entrepreneurs. So the next time you’re out and about in the emirate, give the big-name chains a miss, and get your caffeine fix from one of these local artisanal spots.

Mirdif 35, 60C Street
From the café itself to the creations within it, Qahwaty is a work of art. Tucked away in a small shopping center in Mirdif, the concept was founded by a trio of Saudi partners, led by founder Ahmad Bakheet. This small coffeehouse, which launched in 2016, sources its beans from local roasters, including Seven Fortunes and Cypher.
Our tip: Order something a little out of the ordinary — the Insta-pic alone is worth it.
Open Sunday to Wednesday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Thursday to Saturday 8 a.m. to midnight.

Home Bakery
The Galleria, Al Wasl Road
Okay, we’ll get to the coffee in a minute, but if you’ve never been to Home Bakery before, then the first thing you need to do is purchase one (or, say, five) of their Chewy Melt cookies — the finest in the world. (As self-confessed cookie monsters, we take our gooey, chocolatey bakes seriously, and don’t make these kinds of claims lightly.)
Founded by Emirati sister-brother duo Hind and Abdulla Al-Mulla in 2014, Home Bakery specializes in homemade-style desserts and specialty coffee, with beans sourced from Brazil, Colombia and Ethiopia. The Spanish Latte is a winner.
Open daily, 7 a.m. to midnight.

Emirati Coffee Co
One Third Dubai, Dar Wasl Mall
For Mohamed Ali Al-Madfai, coffee is more than just a venture; it’s part of his heritage. The co-founder and CEO of Emirati Coffee Co. has a keen eye for sourcing the best beans, trading directly with 82 coffee-producing countries — a skill he no doubt picked up from his grandfather, who used to trade coffee in the 1930s.
Al-Madfai first launched a roastery in 2017, followed by a coffee shop in 2018. It’s said to be the first local brand to control the full supply chain — from farm to cup — ensuring sources are ethical and sustainable.
Open weekdays 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and 8 a.m. to midnight on weekends.

Farmers Coffee
Wadi Al Amardhi Street, Al Khawaneej
One look at Farmers Coffee’s Instagram account (, and you’ll want one of their clever creations, pronto. Dubbed a “third-wave coffee shop” by its Emirati founders Faisal Ibrahim Ahil and Faisal Salem Al-Marri, Farmers launched in May last year, and has fast cemented itself as one of the places to be seen out and about in Dubai. The ‘coffeepreneurs’ support regional suppliers, sourcing their beans from Saudi’s Camel Step Coffee Roasters, whose beans are fair-trade.
Open weekdays 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (midnight on Thursdays), and 8.30 a.m. to midnight on Fridays, and to 11p.m. on Saturdays.

API 1000, Building C, Al Safa
Nostalgia is the brainchild of Maitha Bin Byat, an Emirati who wanted to set up a concept built around “a philosophy of creating experiences for the community around a curated offering of specialty coffee, hand-painted chocolates and pastries.” Nostalgia opened in 2017, and its baristas include two champions: the 2018 champion of the Brewer’s Cup, and the 2016 winner of Latte Art.
Open Sunday to Wednesday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Thursday to Saturday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

XO Coffee Boutique
Al Amardi Street, Al Khawaneej
XO’s Instagram account ( is a must-follow for any coffee lover, and the taste is just as good the visuals. Emirati founder Mohammed Al-Zaabi — who named the coffee bar after his favorite childhood game (aka tic-tac-toe) — wanted to create an open space that, much like playing board games, encourages conversation between barista and coffee drinker. XO Coffee Boutique serves three brands of specialty beans: Barcelona’s Nomad, Cupping Room from Hong Kong, and World Roasting Champion Gardelli from Italy.
Open weekdays 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (to 1 a.m. on Thursdays), and 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends.


Where We Are Going Today: Trend

Updated 18 April 2019

Where We Are Going Today: Trend

As its name suggests, this is a restaurant that aims to set trends, with its distinctive meals and desserts, that others will want to follow.

At Trend, it is the little details and twists they put on familiar dishes that make all the difference, such as the blueberry sauce burger, wraps held together with pegs, black pasta and multicolored burger buns. However, it is not only the presentation of the food that sets Trend apart, but also the quality and originality of the flavors.

The restaurant also has a unique way of serving food: It is placed in layers in a tin that is placed upside down on your plate, and when it arrives at the table you lift the tin and let the layers spread out.

They also have Instagram-worthy menu options such as the Gold Burger, which is served with edible gold leaf on top of the bun. The location, in Beach Tower, on Corniche Road in Jeddah’s Ash Shati district, is also photo friendly and the perfect place to relax.