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.


UAE brand’s fresh approach to skincare looking good for future

Having lived in Dubai for more than seven years, Kathryn Jones learned a lot about the Middle Eastern market and the needs of people who live within the region. (Shutterstock)
Updated 25 May 2020

UAE brand’s fresh approach to skincare looking good for future

DUBAI: Skincare products can quite often sit on shelfs or in delivery vehicles for weeks and months, stored in unsuitable conditions.

And despite brands promoting them as organic and natural, some customers might question the effectiveness of products left lying around for long periods after being produced.

However, Kathryn Jones, founder of the UAE-based brand Kathryn Jones Hand Blended Serums, or KJ Serums for short, told Arab News how her company created fresh products every month for customers.

Jones, who is originally from Wales, in the UK, launched KJ Serums in 2017 and started her brand “out of necessity.” (Supplied)

“The concept of a freshly-made skincare serum is something quite different and our customers have really embraced it. They appreciate it’s a fresh product that must be used up within a month when it’s at its most active and effective and repurchased – almost like a food stuff,” she said.

Jones, who is originally from Wales, in the UK, launched KJ Serums in 2017 and started her brand “out of necessity.”

She added: “I simply could not afford the prices of some of the top skincare brands but still wanted excellent results.”

With her background in the biopharmaceuticals industry, she started experimenting and developing her own formulas. “The core proposition is ‘hand blended’ because that’s how it all started, by hand blending and perfecting the serum formulas myself here in the UAE,” she said.

Having lived in Dubai for more than seven years, the entrepreneur learned a lot about the Middle Eastern market and the needs of people who live within the region.

“Our climate here is extreme often for eight months or more of the year, especially in the Gulf region. A lot our customers will ask for a product that reduces oiliness and sheen on the skin and are reluctant to purchase products that contain a lot of oils, or are very heavily moisturizing,” Jones added.

The businesswoman believes the Middle East market is “wonderfully diverse” with different attitudes and expectations toward skincare products.

“Of course, this is a challenge to develop effective products which can address many different skin types and issues, but the market is truly receptive to new concepts,” she said.

Jones pointed out that with the current lockdown situation due to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), people had more time to care for their skin.

“The coronavirus pandemic has obviously confined us to our homes, and, given the steady increase in the number of enquiries we are receiving, it suggests consumers currently have more time to consider their online skincare purchases and perhaps have more time to invest in an effective routine,” she said.

On whether the COVID-19 outbreak would change the future of the skincare industry, Jones added: “I think that many consumers, either through necessity or out of a desire to support local brands might have chosen to source their products from different manufacturers and therefore brand loyalties may have been affected to a certain extent.”