A celebration of Coffee & Baristas ! As I write this post, with a cup of coffee in hand, it seems hard to believe that this is my 200th post – when I started this website, it was as a hobby to learn a new skill and to keep me occupied whilst recovering from surgery and I never thought people would read what I write. Not only do people read what I write, but as a result of my website and my social media postings (apparently this makes me a bit of a social media influencer) I have met some fairly awesome people and experienced some fantastic things that I could never have dreamed of. I’ve met and interviewed celebrity and Michelin chefs, I’ve eaten some fantastic food and drinks, plus of course coffees … I’ve learnt how to cook alongside some real professionals, I’ve met some fantastic like minded foodies through Fooderati Arabia and even given a lift to Jean Christophe Novelli when I found him and his manager trying to flag down a taxi at change over time, I hurried them into the back of my car without even thinking what I was doing – my tweet said something like – “running late for dinner, just dropping Jean Christophe Novelli to his hotel” – how many people can say that LOL
It’s been a busy couple of years for my website, a hobby has turned into a passion and one day I would love to be able to turn this into something that pays, but for now I will celebrate some of the key achievements so far as a way of recognising what my little website has achieved. Without wanting to blow my own trumpet too much it’s good to see how things have progressed for instance I’ve been nominated for Best Blogger Award by BBC GoodFood Middle East (sadly I didn’t make the shortlist, but some of my fabuluous foodie friends did which is fantastic), I’ve been featured in The National newspaper as one of the Top 10 Food Bloggers, have had articles and write ups in Ahlan Gourmet, BBC Good Food Middle East and DxbBuzz – I’ve made a host of new friends both foodies and non foodies and most recently I’m extremely humbled and excited to join the editorial team of Food e Mag Dxb as Travel and Features Editor something that I love doing almost as much as I love working with my foodie pal, Indian sister and the lovely Ishita of IshitaUnblogged who had the initial vision (with Sarah aka The Hedonista) to feature and showcase the work of the many talented food bloggers, or should we be less humble and perhaps call ourselves food writers or something else (that’s another debate), on-line in a fantastic glossy E Magazine. Ishita and I have lots of plans for the magazine and for our individual websites and so the next few years look like they will be fun and rewarding.
It’s only fitting therefore that I dedicate my 200th post to COFFEE 🙂
Here are a few of my favourite shots and stories :
April 2015 – was when I first got an email from a Barista inviting me to visit newly opened Cafe Rider, little did I know that this place would become my favourite independent speciality coffee place in Dubai. Since then Cafe Rider has come a long way, half motorbike shop, half coffee shop, half internet cafe, half photo shoot venue (yes I know there are too many halfs !) this is a hidden gem for people with a passion for coffee and motorbikes, often paired together but not mandatory, it’s fine to like one or the other and it’s a cool place to hang out. Even more exciting, it’s now home to the 2014 UAE Barista Champion – Dmitriy Griekhov !! the barista who first invited me to visit . So pleased to have been part of the journey and to see Dmitriy win this prestigious award which will give him the chance to put the UAE on the world stage of coffee making, when he competes in Seattle next April.
“I work with specialty coffee every day at Café Rider and first of all understand the concept and idea of specialty coffee. Every single origin or blend has it’s own story, which I can share with my guests. And basically that’s what I did on the stage, just shared all the information about my coffee. Coffee knowledge, very good technical skills and passion for what you do are the main aspects to be a great barista” says Dmitriy.
I popped into Cafe Rider a few weeks ago to taste the winning coffee and to see Dmitriy in action and here are a few of my favourite shots from that meeting. Dmitriy is at Cafe Rider most days, so I urge you to go meet him and try some amazing speciality coffee whilst you are there.
October found meDuring October Costa Coffee celebrated it’s 15th Anniversary of opening its first store in the UAE, by bringing Master of Coffee Master, Gennaro Pelliccia to Dubai. Genarro’s taste buds once insured for AED 60 million in 2009 (I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed to find out that he’s not uninsured now and hence the story is a little old however … ), were put to action as he hosted a Masterclass for selected guests at the Burj al Arab. I’m now the proud owner of my own cupping spoon which is quite awesome. Here’a few clicks of the man in action :-
Before the Masterclass some of us got to chat to some of the local Dubai baristas as they brewed our coffee and I got chatting to Prakash Rai a nepalese Barista who I had met previously when he won the Costa Coffee Barista Of The Year competition in Dubai after beating competition from India, Singapore, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, KSA, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman and Qatar. Prakash was excited and anxious as he explained that he would be jetting off to the UK shortly to represent the Middle East in the Costa Barista of the Year Champion of Champion’s final in London – I’m pleased to say that Prakash won with his signature drink called Smoking Panda – and he’s now the champion of champions for Costa Barista’s – well done Prakash I’m so pleased for you.
August found me in the Philippines, where along with the usual tour activities, I hunted down as much local coffee as I could, tried jelly coffee at Bos’ tried Civet Coffee whilst overlooking a volcano (I wasn’t keen) and managed to convince the mini bus driver to stop at a decent coffee shop at least once a day, for the love of coffee . I fell in love with the Philippines and hadn’t realised what a rich coffee history and heritage it had, whilst the trip I was on focussed on 5 star tourist experiences and islands, I plan to return and to follow the coffee trail.
Speaking of travel, last year took me to Istanbul where I sampled some amazing turkish coffee and bought another coffee gadget, this time an electric turkish coffee kettle. I also went to Thailand where I mainly indulged in fabulous Thai food as well as some coffee inspired cocktails and Mai Thai coffee. The year before took me to Africa where I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and discovered a love for Kenyan Coffee – in fact I’m fairly sure that it was the coffee powder in my sweets which helped me make it to the summit – or perhaps it was my daily mug of coffee made with my Aeropress – who knows ….
Closer to home, I’ve made some fab friends in the coffee field who I regularly bump into – I first met Orit from Boon Coffee at The Farmers Market on The Terrace and was pleased to see her open her first coffee bar in JBR. I visited a huge recycling plant in Sharjah to see the work Nespresso are doing to recycle the coffee pods and have seen them launch quite a few different coffee pods this year – with Carmelito still being my absolute favourite. My trips to the Farmers Market on the Terrace would not be the same without the first coffee of my Fridays at the Coffee Planet stand and my Moccamaster machine is on every morning without fail to brew the first jug of coffee of the day. Roastmaster Matt never fails to entertain with his coffee tales and more importantly the new blends and single origin coffees which he continually works on. Meanwhile all of my favourite independent coffee shops continue to develop and innovate and you can find out who they are here.
Coffee continues to play a big part in my Dubai calendar and as well as the International Tea and Coffee Festival at Meydan, there was a large coffee presence at Gulf Foods with a few images from the show below.
Update March 2017 : Want to read more about Nespresso – Here’s a fantastic article covering all there is to know about Nespresso machines and coffee pods – click >> HERE . I’ve got two Nespresso machines and love them both and despite all of the new coffee pods being released still have a soft spot for Carmelito 🙂
2015 looks to be equally as busy on the coffee front, Dubai Coffee Museum is planned to open soon and a few new roasters and independent coffee shops in Dubai have opened or are about to open shortly, meaning my list of independents will be growing soon.
Not best known for their coffee there are two places that stand out for innovative coffee : Vogue Cafe make a fairly awesome Ferrero Roche Coffee and Fumé based in Pier 7 make the most awesome nutella coffee – look at this picture and try not to drool 🙂
Assuming you’ve had a nice coffee you should still be awake by the end of the post, and if you are here are a few of my favourite coffee shots from the last few years. Enjoy x