Java great weekend…

Growing up, I’d watch as people gathered around a table for steaming cups of a beverage that I could then barely stand the smell of. The ‘bitterness’ of coffee and an irrefutable need for it exhibited by friends, family and teachers made me wonder what it was about a terrible-tasting beverage that made it a mainstay in everyone’s lives, but my own. Then I’d go and drink my ice-cold milk.

Decades later, moonlighting on a night shift, I finally tapped out and resorted to a cup of drip coffee to relieve my sleep-deprived eyes. Today, what began as an acquired taste for me has become an unmissable precursor to the day that awaits.

Let’s go over the facts, the history and a few fun references before we dive in to where you can get your hands on the best brews in Abu Dhabi.

Fact File

United we stand

Simply put, coffee unites, and a move as simple as grabbing a cup could mean many things. A symbol of hospitality, a welcome gesture to guests, a sign that it’s time to get serious about work, or the crux of your plans for the evening.

It’s bean a long day, without you my friend

Caffeine dependence and withdrawal are directly related. Headaches, mood swings, irregular sleep, irritability, decreased focus, energy dips and reduced productivity are all normal withdrawal symptoms if you’re trying to quit the beverage (we love extreme stunts, just not that extreme).

Pro trip: Wean off it a little at a time, and try replacing your regular cup of caffeine with a placebo-inducing decaf brew. There’s a reason cold turkey never made it on to any menus that What’s On orders from.

We’re not Finnished yet

Finland has the highest consumption of coffee on the planet, as per the latest report published on – with the average Finn consuming 4 cups daily. In news that will surprise no one, they also happen to be the country with the highest happiness index in the world? Coincidence? We think not.

Drink coffee, win trophy

UFC stars Conor McGregor and Rhonda Rousey, and Olympic swim legend Michael Phelps are all known to consume coffee as part of their pre-game routines. As a matter of fact, it’s a staple in most elite athlete’s pre-game nutrition.

In pop culture and on celluloid

Our pick of memorable scenes featuring coffee…

Pulp Fiction

Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta engage in a hilarious exchange with director Quentin Tarantino over a cup of, you guessed it, hot coffee. An absolute relic from Tinseltown’s archives, this masterpiece packs too many memorable scenes and lines to list, but if you’ve watched it, you’ll remember the caffeine-laced scene instantly.

Catch it on @netflix

Better Call Saul

Ding-ding-ding! Mark Margolis as chilling mobster Hector Salamanca meets with never-say-die P.I. Mike Ehrmantraut at Loyola’s Family Restaurant in the episode ‘Rebecca’, and the only thing he orders at the diner is “coffee, black.”

Catch it on @netflix

The Sopranos

Remember Paulie’s annoyance at the coffee house? Every time I watch the scene of him trying to order “just coffee”, I can absolutely relate. Some brews are best kept simple.

Watch it on @amazonprime

Dexter’s Laboratory

If you were raised on a diet of old-school animation such as Dexter’s Lab, you’ll certainly recall the boy wonder’s father and his infamous meltdown in Topped Off, upon discovering that his kids have emptied the kitchen cupboards and left no coffee for him to drink the next morning. Things end on a happy note though, as a South American coffee farmer and his endearing donkey come to the rescue.


Over ten seasons of one of television’s greatest shows of all time, the gang’s New York City coffee-shop hangout, Central Perk, turned into a universal symbol of friendship and social shenanigans. Today, whether you’re a fan of the show or not, you’ll see Central Perk-branded merch just about anywhere that deals in pop culture memorabilia.

Available on @netflix

8 spots to grab a coffee in Abu Dhabi

In Abu Dhabi, the caffeine scene is unmatched. Sip your way through a little history on one of the city’s finest cups – and discover where to find the very best of them.


Tashas abu dhabi

Tashas is one of a slew of cool cafes that fronts the Marina of Al Bateen Marina. Oozing strong Insta-feed energy thanks to its beautiful décor, the concept originated in South Africa, but already feels like part of the local fabric here. Sublime interiors and a kitchen team with a fastidious eye for gastronomic detail make this eatery an essential pin-drop for those that enjoy crafty cuisine with their coffee.
Our pick: The Greek coffee. Boiled, not brewed, it’s strong, rich and foamy – everything you want your coffee to be.



Stripped back and minimalistic Space café in Al Qana is all smart slate greys and smooth concretes. Designed as a community space to welcome all, it’s an all-day eatery that puts fruit fusions into its sips and serves. While you can of course come here for traditional brews, you shouldn’t miss trying their more unique concoctions, like the rose and saffron iced lattes, and pistachio frappe.

Our pick: Space’s own-brand cold brew, for best showcasing their true coffee connoisseur status.


Art House Café

Another colourful addition to Al Bateen’s caffeine scene is Art House Café. Every inch feels, and smells like the inspirational, creative space it truly is, surrounded by botanical greens and abstract painted scenes.There’s art lining the walls, art on the plates, and artistry taking place on the coffee front, with their impressive array of iced and hot beverages.
Our pick: The Spanish-born Cortado – equal parts espresso and steamed milk – to ease you into the morning.


Illy Café

If you’re looking to stay up and stay sharp, this is what you need. A strong, no-nonsense brand from Italy, you’ve likely seen their iconic logo and red-and-silver branding around town. You can get it in single-origin Arabica, decaf, medium and dark variations.

Our pick: The double espresso. Goodbye chicken soup, this is absolute rocket fuel.



Fuelled by the owner’s passion for exotic and classic cars, DRVN Café is a homegrown concept with stylish, automotive-themed branding backing a great selection of coffee blends, Neapolitan pizza and other creations. Also, watch out for their food trucks at prominent festivals around town.
Our pick: Their merch. While the food and drink are great, their merch is also auto-inspired and is available in cool, creative designs.

Seattle’s Best Coffee

Many would argue the Emerald City is the undisputed home of coffee, and some would even win that argument. Seattle’s Best Coffee, like other household names in the industry was born in America’s urban tech-centre, where coffee is as synonymous with the city as are cloudy skies, grunge music and Pacific Ocean-inspired fare.

Our pick: The Vanilla Latte. Foamy with just a hint of vanilla, adding some much-needed flavour.


Saravanaa Bhavan

While India’s favourite hot beverage is usually tea (spelled c-h-a-i), head to the South of the country and you’ll notice a stronger preference for coffee. Their version of drip coffee, called ‘filter coffee’, is served in a little steel cup and a cool-it-yourself saucer pairing. Tell your server you’d like it cooled, and there’s a good chance you’ll be staring at a neat little cup of frothy, sweetened, slightly cooled coffee, seconds of showmanship later.

Our pick: The Filter Coffee – milk and sugar included.


% Arabica

These guys understand the value of a good, solid, home Arabica blend. If you’re the DIY kind, pick up a bag of their Arabica beans for Dhs110, grind them yourself at home and you’ll have a nice jar of drip coffee that’ll last you a month.

Our pick: The Cappuccino – smooth as silk, they get the taste, texture, and temperature just right.


Media: Instagram, What’s On archive, supplied, Getty, Unsplash