1. Café Arabia
Dining here is almost like visiting a great aunt’s house for a meal. And it is not just because the café takes up a residential villa. The décor is also very familiar – crockery cabinets, bookshelves and paintings all line the dining room filled with mix and match tables and chairs. Guests are welcome to bury themselves into one of the reads as they sink into a seat and sip on their favourite cuppa. Oh, and it does a good variety of cakes that pair well with the fresh brew.
Top Cup: You cannot go wrong with a cup of Turkish coffee. The café’s special bean blend is given a fresh roast and is ground with cardamom before being gently simmered. Aromatic and very soothing.
Dhs15. Open Sun-Thu 7am-11.30pm. Fri-Sat 9am-11.30. Villa No 637, Opposite Al Mushrif Children’s Park (02 643 9699).
2. Café Bateel
This iconic café is known for its exquisite dates and chocolates, but it seems to excel across all platforms. Its coffee menu is a popular choice and rightly so. It contains the best from Brazil, Ethiopia and Central America – three places renowned for their coffee. The café also sells its blended brews that you can take home, but we think it is not quite the same.
Top cup: A traditional recipe is followed to the tee to bring you the brand’s famous Qahwa. Coffee beans sourced from the highlands of Yemen give the cup, which is spiced with ginger and cardamom, its unique
and alluring taste.
Dhs29. Open Sun-Wed 8am-midnight. Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. The Galleria Mall, Al Maryah Island (02 671 2284).
3. Crystal Lounge
The St. Regis Hotel exemplifies sophistication and luxury. The open-plan Crystal Lounge, the hotel’s lounge-cafe, settles nicely around the warm glow of the over-sized, handcrafted lantern chandelier. It serves light meals and refreshments through the day that you can savour comfortably from its very many plush armchairs.
Top Cup: Turkish coffee will make a few appearances as our list progresses and here it features again. The Crystal Lounge, though, chooses to serve its richly roasted drink in a 24 carat-plated Wedgewood cup. On the side is a bite of authentic Turkish delight, which is imported straight from the Mediterranean.
Dhs26. Open daily 7am-midnight. St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Nation Towers (02 694 4444).
4. Vienna Plaza
Ceiling-to-floor windows allow you a great view of the green gardens just outside. The café is located away from the lobby, so you don’t have to sip on coffee as you hear chattering guests enter and leave the premises. The food served is limited but covers the usual café categories and does so well. The coffees, however, are the big draw at Vienna Plaza and it serves authentic Viennese Julius Meinl coffee specialties.
Top Cup: Our favourite is the Mozart coffee – a large mocha with crème de cacao, whipped cream and almond – it doesn’t get more Viennese than this.
Dhs37. Open daily 7am-1am. Hilton Abu Dhabi, Al Khubeirah (02 692 4171).
5. Icons Coffee Couture
A new addition to the capital, this health-conscious café serves treats that include zero-sugar, are low-fat and gluten-free. And you’ve probably already read about its healthy ice cream bar. The joint uses organic and natural sweeteners such as agave and dates, so you don’t have to worry about indulging in too much of a good thing. Sounds like the trip out to Deerfields Mall might just be worth it.
Top Cup: The Macadamia brownie frappe sounds as extravagant as it tastes. A brownie square is crumbled and churned with Icons’ famous chocolate ice cream before getting a dollop of cream on top. More brownie chunks lend a garnish before it is finally finished with a drizzle of chocolate.
Dhs27. Open Sun-Thu 7.30-11pm. Fri-Sat 7.30-midnight. Deerfields Mall, Al Shahama (02 564 6022).
6. Indian by Nature
This vegetarian-only restaurant offers a diverse menu with flavours from the different parts of India. The southern region of the country is known for its rich coffee plantations, and there’s one cup in particular that hits the spot. A good tumbler of frothy filter coffee is not easy to come by in the city, and this restaurant has it.
Top Cup: The region of Coorg in Karanataka is known for its strong flavour and potent aroma. The coffee beans used for this, our favourite option here, are imported straight from there and roasted and ground on site.
Dhs4. Open daily 8am-3pm, 5pm-11pm. Tolico building, near National Hospital, Najda (02 667 7898).
7. jones the grocer
This gourmet food store has a lot going on. It has an exclusive range of artisanal products, hosts cooking classes and also welcomes shoppers to dine and drink.
Top Cup: Some of the coffees in the single origin coffee collection have been sourced from a single farm at times. The flavours are very specific and unique. Varieties include offerings from Mexico, India, Ethiopia, Burundi and Columbia.
Dhs22-28. Open Sun-Thu 7.30am-11pm, Fri-Sat 9am-11pm. Etihad Airways Centre, Al Muneera, Al Raha Beach (02 676 7141).
8. Leopold’s of London
The guys at LOL have serious coffee game and that’s no laughing matter. Yes, they do the usual, but it’s the Coffee Lab offerings that prove most exciting. LOL’s coffee roastery has a selection of high-quality, single-origin coffee from all over the world, all roasted in small batches to maintain the characteristics and special qualities of each bean.
Top Cup: The cold Aztec mocha with dark chocolate, cinnamon and chilli is a taste you’ll never forget.
Dhs25. Open daily 6.30am-11pm. Boutik Mall, Al Reem Island (02 677 0071).
9. Majlis Alfareej
Al Danat’s neighbourhood Emirati restaurant opened a few months ago, and has managed to perfect its blend of traditional flavours to suit modern tastes. A major chunk of its clientele is local, so you know it’s authentic.
Top Cup: The restaurant prides itself on its Qahwa Arabia. The authentic coffee is brewed with exotic flavours of cardamom and saffron and served in the iconic Emirati jar, Dallah.
Dhs30. Open daily 9am-midnight. Darwish building, Murror Road, Al Danat (02 665 3653).
10. No. FiftySeven Boutique Café
This instagrammable café is tucked away in one corner of Al Bateen harbour, but those who do seek it out are thrilled with their discovery. The elegant interiors standout, and the food and service are flawless. The toffee skillet pudding is a hit and it is best followed by a cup of jo.
Top Cup: You won’t find the nougat cappuccino on the menu, but ask and you shall receive. Nutella and hazelnut are added to fresh coffee to result in a cup of magic.
Dhs27. Open daily 9.30am-10.30pm. Building 2, Al Marasy, Al Bateen (02 441 6100).
11. Orchid Lounge
A swanky lobby lounge located just left of the Dusit Thani’s reception desk, this coffee bar doesn’t look like your typical stop for a caffeine shot. It’s an elegant lounge and has a non-kitschy vibe that sets the tone.
Top Cup: The triple-layered Dusit coffee latte is special. Served in a double-walled glass, it includes three different layers of cream, coffee and milk and is served with traditional Thai coconut cookies.
Dhs29. Open Sun-Thu 8am-1am, Fri-Sat 9am-1am. Dusit Thani, Al Muroor Road, Al Nahyan (02 698 8888).
12. Tawa Bakery
The 100 percent gluten-free bakery out on Al Raha Plaza is certainly making a name for itself with its food and not just amongst the residents in the area. The beachfront property is a haven for people of all ages and groups.
Top Cup: The hot mocha uses Italian roasted coffee beans to give it that delicious aroma. It is blended with chocolate syrup and warm frothy milk to give you a relaxing mug to hold on to as you watch the waves roll in.
Dhs25. Open daily 8am-11pm. Al Muneera Plaza, Al Raha (02 556 6900).
13. The Coffee Club
The Australian brand has been welcoming caffeine seekers into its shops across the world for more than 25 years. Its all-day breakfast is its main draw, but what should wash down your morning meal with?
Top Cup: The hot mocha is simply a triumph. If you like that lingering chocolate taste in your coffee mug, you’ll be pleased you plumped for this one.
Dhs21. Open Sat-Wed 8.30am-10.30pm, Thu-Fri 8.30am-midnight. Level 1, Yas Mall, Yas Island (02 565 0865).
14. The Sportsman’s Arms
We can’t get enough of this family-friendly gastropub and its bird’s eye view of the International Tennis Complex. The food scores, the service is ace and it has screens broadcasting the latest sporting action.
Top Cup: You’ve seen celebrities swear by it and now you can discover bullet coffee for yourself. It’s a concoction of black coffee, unsalted grass-fed butter and virgin coconut oil. It may take you more than a few tries to find it palatable, but perseverance pays.
Dhs25. Open daily 8.30am-2am. The International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City (02 403 4235)
15. The Living Room Café
Sometimes all you need is a bolt of java to keep you going through the day. The handy bit about TLRC is that it’s got a little playroom just inside its main dining room for the kids. The friendly staff will make sure you leave energised, with a spring in your step.
Top Cup: Freshly ground coffee beans churn out a double espresso shot that goes in with a velvety milk finish for an invigorating shot of strength. And it comes with a mini cupcake
for that extra sugary kick.
Dhs18. Open Sun-Thu 7.30am-11.30pm. Fri-Sat 8.30-11.30pm. Khalidiya Village, Al Khalidiya (02 639 6654).
The baristas at Leopold’s of London step out from behind the machine to break down a few fundamentals.
Kyoto: This process of cold brew coffee has been around for centuries and it offers a unique taste. It uses the Kyoto machine (named after the Japanese city), which has a filtration system that is extremely slow. The brewing process takes about eight hours for a single cup. The result is a flawless, strong coffee filtered to perfection.
Chemex: This brewing method extracts the most exquisite flavour and body from single-origin coffee; the coffee simply runs through the filter and gives you a clean and smooth taste, which is second to none.
Syphon: The true laboratory effect awakens with the syphon. This method combines full emersion and high temperature to produce the most interesting of coffee. Time spent tweaking this machine will result in extraordinary taste and intensity. It also makes for great café theatre.
Manual Shot: The art of manually extracting a shot of espresso will peak the attention of any true coffee lover. The intricate mechanics found in only the most expensive of coffee machines can now be seen by all thanks to the manual expresso shot experience.