From the ancient art of gahwa, the method that Emiratis use to make Arabic coffee, to new-gen coffee roasters to rival the best hipster cafés around the world, Abu Dhabi is experiencing a café revolution. These are the coolest coffee shops in the capital to order a brew.
Simple yet with a stylish hipster vibe, %Arabica is one of the capital’s newest speciality coffee shops, based on the Corniche and offering espresso- and drip-based coffees made with single-origin or arabica beans that are sourced from more than 30 countries, including Brazil, Panama, El Salvador, Ethiopia and Guatemala. You can take your coffee away or pull up a pew in one of the plush, private, curtained suites. A cup costs from Dh16, while a 250-gram bag of beans starts at Dh58.
Al Jazeera Tower, Hamdan Street, Khalidiya
6.30am-midnight Monday-Friday; 6.30am-1am Saturday-Sunday
Most well known among those who frequent New York University Abu Dhabi, Blacksmith Coffee Company is worth the 20-minute drive from the CBD. The Blacksmith team (all former students) pride themselves on quality, and the shop has a roastery in Mina Zayed. The spacious and modern café is the ideal place to catch up with friends, or study in a group, and offers espresso and filter options including Chemex, batch brew and AeroPress, along with matcha lattes and cold brews. Beans are sourced from Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya and beyond, with prices starting from Dh10.
NYU Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island
7.15am-10pm Sunday-Thursday; 9am-8pm Friday; 9am-9pm Saturday
Probably one of the hippest cafés in the city, Keki Bakery is a Japanese patisserie who serve up fluffy lighter-than-air cakes and buns with their signature Keki stamp on top. Try a matcha roll or rainbow mochi rice cake, there’s also pistachio milk cakes and Studio Ghibli’s cute Totoro-shaped buns. Their tea is served in Japanese clear glass flasks and foamy lattes are decorated with cherry blossom art. Visit their branch at Al Bateen Park, kiosk at Aldar HQ or on Saturdays at Umm Al Emerat Market where they have a van.
Al Bateen Park 8.30am-11pm
If you’re looking for a good brew in a traditional setting, Joud Café is the place. Labelled “Abu Dhabi’s neighbourhood café”, Joud offers an authentic coffee experience in comfortable, home-style surrounds. Choose from a variety of brewing techniques, including French press, siphon, AeroPress and Chemex, and for those keen on honouring local tradition, the team also offers ibrik coffee – brewed in a small pot nestled in hot sand for gradual flavour extraction. The café sources its single-origin coffee from Ethiopia, Kenya, El Salvador and Costa Rica, with prices starting from Dh19 a cup.
Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street, Al Bateen Park
This cute café is small in size but big on personality. It combines bright, funky, modern interiors with coffee options that include Spanish latte, piccolo latte, manual brew, cold brew, espresso and cappuccino, with prices starting from Dh18. Located on one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, Rain Abu Dhabi is as appealing for its stay-a-while feel as for its to-the-car delivery service: commuters can call ahead to place an order and then drive by the delivery window to be served. The café also offers a selection of sweet treats, including ‘mango vs coconut’ goodies and pistachio cakes.
Mohammed Bin Khalifa Street
Housed in a three-storey villa, this café is popular for its ambience as well as its menu. Designed as “a bridge between Arabia and the world”, Café Arabia provides great coffee, good food and Arab appeal, thanks to its colourful lanterns and wall art, comfy lounge chairs and book-swap shelves. It has a menu packed with sweet treats, Middle Eastern breakfast options and, of course, a selection of tasty coffees including the café’s ever-popular Turkish coffee, macchiato, flat white and cappuccino, which comes with a double dose of froth.
Villa 37, 15th Street, Airport Road
6.30am-11pm Sunday-Wednesday; 7am-midnight Thursday-Saturday
Honing the art of the brew is Atpitude Café in the equally artistic setting of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. They’re a modern coffee company to match the contemporary gallery. And they’ve got green credentials too – their beans are ethically sourced from Panama, Brazil, Ethiopia and Colombia. Plus you can lounge outside with an excellent view of the Jean Novel-designed gallery.