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.


Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk — World Health Organization

Updated 22 August 2019

Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk — World Health Organization

  • WHO issues first report on microplastics in drinking water
  • Reassures consumers that risk is low, but says more study needed

GENEVA: Microplastics contained in drinking water pose a “low” risk to human health at current levels, but more research is needed to reassure consumers, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
Studies over the past year on plastic particles detected in tap and bottled water have sparked public concerns but the limited data appears reassuring, the UN agency said its first report on potential health risks associated with ingestion.
Microplastics enter drinking water sources mainly through run-off and wastewater effluent, the WHO said. Evidence shows that microplastics found in some bottled water seem to be at least partly due to the bottling process and/or packaging such as plastic caps, it said.
“The headline message is to reassure drinking water consumers around the world, that based on this assessment, our assessment of the risk is that it is low,” Bruce Gordon of the WHO’s department of public health, environmental and social determinants of health, told a briefing.
The WHO did not recommended routine monitoring for microplastics in drinking water. But research should focus on issues including what happens to chemical additives in the particles once they enter the gastrointestinal tract, it said.
The majority of plastic particles in water are larger than 150 micrometers in diameter and are excreted from the body, while “smaller particles are more likely to cross the gut wall and reach other tissues,” it said.
Health concerns have centered around smaller particles, said Jennifer De France, a WHO technical expert and one of the report’s authors.
“For these smallest size particles, where there is really limited evidence, we need know more about what is being absorbed, the distribution and their impacts,” she said.
More research is needed into risks from microplastics exposure throughout the environment — “in our drinking water, air and food,” she added.
Alice Horton, a microplastics researcher at Britain’s National Oceanography Center, said in a statement on the WHO’s findings: “There are no data available to show that microplastics pose a hazard to human health, however this does not necessarily mean that they are harmless.”
“It is important to put concerns about exposure to microplastics from drinking water into context: we are widely exposed to microplastics in our daily lives via a wide number of sources, of which drinking water is just one.”
Plastic pollution is so widespread in the environment that you may be ingesting five grams a week, the equivalent of eating a credit card, a study commissioned by the environmental charity WWF International said in June. That study said the largest source of plastic ingestion was drinking water, but another major source was shellfish.
The biggest overall health threat in water is from microbial pathogens — including from human and livestock waste entering water sources — that cause deadly diarrheal disease, especially in poor countries lacking water treatment systems, the WHO said.
Some 2 billion people drink water contaminated with faeces, causing nearly 1 million deaths annually, Gordon said, adding: “That has got to be the focus of regulators around the world.”