13 Cafes To Try in Abu Dhabi | 2020

Our principle is simple; We enjoy only the highest quality of coffee, and we share only what we enjoy.” The Echo Machine

The capital’s coffee scene is continuously evolving, there’s been such an influx of new places opening over the past couple of years that speciality coffee drinkers are spoilt for choice. Hands down my favourite cafe in Abu Dhabi is still LOCAL (yes, I may be a tad biased but regardless of the family connection the coffee is just so good). Whether you are particular to a V60, flat white or iced Spanish here’s a look at some of the many additions (in no particular order of preference) to the capital’s cafe scene*. 

Need more inspiration? Check out my previous post 12 Must Visit Independent Coffee Spots in Abu Dhabi


Coffee – 4/5 (Hot Chocolate 5/5) Instagrammable factor – 4/5 

No other cafe in the capital can offer your favourite brew with views of the iconic Louvre Abu Dhabi. Aptitude’s unique location in the grounds of the museum is an unique spot to enjoy a coffee and snap a photo of the famous dome across the water.

Aptitude serves ethically-sourced coffee from Colombia and Ethiopia (among others) and alongside the regular latte and cappuccino options offers signature drinks such as the regionally influenced saffron, rose and pistachio lattes and the more unusual pretzel affogato. While I find the coffee quite strong their hot chocolate topped with mini marshmallows is definitely my favourite in the city. Food options include pastries, desserts and light bites. Their Oud nights combining traditional music with specialty coffee are very popular. In the height of summer when it’s hot and humid head to their original venue located in Al Nahyan Camp.

Aptitude, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Opening times: Saturday – Wednesday 10am – 8pm, Thursday & Friday  10am – 10pm. Instagram @aptitude.ae

Culture Cafe

Coffee – 3.5/5 Instagrammable factor – 3.5/5

Culture Cafe, located on the second floor of the Abu Dhabi Youth Hub, offers speciality coffee, juices, smoothies alongside pastries and healthy snacks. The modern cafe celebrates Emirati culture and the significance of coffee in the region’s history. Takeaway cups feature the Arabic dallah (coffee pot) used for centuries to brew and serve Gahwa, the traditional blend of green coffee beans and cardamom. Culture cafe sits alongside The Wave, a unique architectural designed musical stage where students can showcase their talents.

Culture Cafe, Abu Dhabi Youth Hub, 305 Al Meena Street, Abu Dhabi. Opening Times: Saturday – Thursday 9am – 9:30pm and Friday: 2pm – 9:30pm. Instagram @culturecafe.ad

District 10

Coffee – 3.5/5 Instagrammable factor – 3.5/5 

District 10 has two branches, the first and original one in Khalifa Park and the second one tucked away on the upper floor of the Abu Dhabi cruise terminal in Mina Port. With the recent opening of Marsha Mina, the waterfront entertainment area, more and more people are heading to the Mina Port area which bodes well for the new District 10 venue. Having to go through airport like security to grab a cup of coffee may seem like a hassle but the modern space created by local designers Shell & Core is worth the extra effort.

The cafe is a collaboration between the established speciality brand and catering company Nomad. The light, contemporary space presents a modern interpretation of Emirati culture, like the original Khalifa Park venue it offers a place for reading, art and music. A varied range of materials has been used to create different areas where you can relax and enjoy your chosen beverage, shelves and plants divide the areas while hanging rattan chairs add extra interest and seating. Baristas work in the centralised station with its oversized tree, a selection of freshly brewed coffees and teas are offered complimented by Nomad’s pastries, desserts and savoury light bites.

District 10, Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal, Abu Dhabi Port, Mina. Opening Times: Daily – 8:00 am – 10:00 pm. Telephone: 02 650 1881. Instagram @d10cafe


Coffee – 4/5 Instagrammable factor – 4/5 

Following the trend of multi-concept venues opening up in the capital DRVN, housed in a former car showroom, serves speciality coffee and Napoleon style pizzas from their in-house clay pizza oven. Sip speciality coffee from the in-house roastery while you sit amongst the prized vintage Mercedes displayed in giant glass boxes or above on the mezzanine level.

The coffee and pizza are really good but I found my breakfast choice (scrambled egg on toast) underwhelming, I’m planning to try the french toast with berries next visit which looks delicious. This is a huge space and although it’s popular there’s plenty of seating and parking.

DRVN, Jeep Western Motors Building, Airport Road, Al Madina Al Riyadiya, Abu Dhabi Telephone: 02 441 7774 Opening times: Saturday – Wednesday 7am – midnight, Thursday 7am – 1am & Friday 8am – 1am. Instagram @drvn_coffee

Espresso Lab

Coffee – 4/5 Instagrammable factor – 4/5 

Espresso Lab serves specialty coffee with views of Qasr Al Hosn. This large, earthy toned space is a relaxing place to sip your favourite coffee. The large central coffee bar is a statement design feature as well as where the knowledgeable baristas hone their craft.

A menu of ethically sourced organic coffee from around the globe is offered, your barista will talk you through the options on offer to guarantee the best cup of coffee posible. Signature drinks include orange or lemon citrus infused specialty espressos and an affogato, speciality coffee blended with gelato. Add a OT nutella filled sea salt cookie to your order, you won’t be disappointed.

The Espresso Lab, Unit 3, Qasr Al Hosn, Abu Dhabi. Telephone : 055 100 0161. Opening Times : Daily 7:30 am – 10:00 pm. Instagram @theespressolab

Fa’e Cafe

Coffee – 4/5 Instagrammable factor – 4/5 

This spacious, light filled cafe is located on the ground floor of the Abu Dhabi Youth Hub. Inspired by the indigeous Ghaff tree, the desert evergreen that’s the national tree of the UAE and symbol of the 2019 Year of tolerance, Fa’e has been designed as a community space. It’s own large Ghaff tree is incorporated in the large community table dominating the centre of the space.

The specialty coffee (Fa’e uses Blacksmith’s Coffee) is served in covetable earthenware cups, everything is well presented and the service is attentive. The seasonal menu is extensive with everything from healthy breakfast options to regionally inspired dishes, moorish cookies, brownies and pastries. Good to see plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available too.

F’ae Cafe, Abu Dhabi Youth Hub, 305 Al Meena Street, Abu Dhabi. Telephone: 052 585 8711. Opening Times: Daily 9:00 am – 10:00 pm. Instagram @faecafe_

Forever Rose Cafe

Coffee – 3/5 Instagrammable factor – 4.5/5 

With a fairytale meets cartoon vibe, Forever Rose cafe is the 2-D monochrome illustration cafe located in the passageway between the original Galleria Mall and it’s newer extension. The cafe, designed to look like a lifesize storybook, is adorned with colourful Forever Roses housed in various glass domes and vases.

The cafe is a subsidiary of Forever Rose, the luxury florist founded in the UAE. While the interior may be black and white the flowers and food are much more colourful. Signature drinks include the Forever Rose latte, made from a blend of nine different dark roast coffee beans and in keeping with the flower theme, an orchid latte, a lavender latte and rose & lavender lemonades. Food wise there’s a range of sweet and savoury croissants, pastries and signature desserts like rose, saffron and pistachio milk cakes and a selection of French style tarts, mousses and Belgian chocolates desserts. Boutique Forever Roses collections can be purchased here too.

Forever Rose Cafe, Level C, The Galleria, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi. Telephone 02 493 7400. Opening Times: Saturday – Wednesday 10am – 10pm, Thursday – Friday 10am – 12 midnight. Instagram: @foreverrosecafe

Joud Cafe

Coffee – 3.5/5 Instagrammable factor – 2.5/5 

The new branch of the popular Joud Cafe is located at Al Seef Mall. The large cafe is decorated in muted tones of brown and green with the odd pop of yellow. Like the original venue in Al Bateen, Joud is a popular spot for Emirati coffee lovers.

The menu offers specialty locally-roasted coffee as well plenty of manual brew options such as chemex, syphon and cold brew. The food menu is vast with many sweet and savoury dishes. A selection of cakes and pastries are displayed in the glass counter and a la carte options are also available, breakfast dishes such as smoothie bowls, choice of eggs and avocado on toast are served daily until midday.

Joud Cafe, Al Seef, Abu Dhabi. Telephone: 02 632 9599. Opening hours 8:00am – 11:00pm. Instagram @joudcafe

Le Papillon Cafe

Coffee – 3.5/5 Instagrammable factor – 4/5 

Enticed by the pink and rose gold hues seen on their instagram feed, Le Papillon Cafe was a bit of a surprise concept because as well as the perfectly coordinated interiors there’s walls of fridges filled with homemade sweet treats made by local artisans. I love the idea that this small business is helping other small businesses to display and sell their wares while offering cafe visitors lots of choice. Try the lemon poppy seed cake that’s just AED 5 (had to buy one to take home too)!

The staff are friendly and accomodating, drinks and food are well presented and affordably priced. The menu offers the usual lattes, piccolos and flat whites as well as signature drinks like the hot and cold red velvet and saffron lattes. Hanging white butterflies (papillon) adorn the entrance ceiling and the surprise additional seating area at the rear accommodates a retail area focused on accessories for men and women.

Le Papillon Cafe, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Street, Abu Dhabi. Telephone: 050 313 3466. Opening times: Saturday – Thursday 7:30am – 10:30pm, Friday 10am–11:45pm. Instagram @lepapilloncafe

Mirzam Chocolate

Coffee – 4/5 Instagrammable factor – 4/5 

Homegrown Dubai chocolate brand Mirzam opened their first cafe in Abu Dhabi at the capital’s cultural site, Qasr Al Hosn last year. Visitors can taste test some of their bean to bar chocolate selection along with Japanese style manually brewed coffee and botanical teas. As chocolate producers they offer a menu of speciality drinking chocolates inspired by their exotic and regionally inspired flavoured chocolate bars.

My latte was really delicious and the salted chocolate brownie is a must-try, the space is really cool too but unfortunately the service was hit and miss when we visited. The cafe hosts a variety of chocolate tasting workshops and coffee & cocoa pairing sessions. There’s a great selection of the Artisan chocolate to buy, it’s arty packaging makes it a great gift too.

Mirzam, Qasr Al Hosn (entry to underground parking on Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Street), Abu Dhabi. Telephone: 02 555 2211. Opening Times: Sunday to Wednesday 10am to 10pm, Thursday to Saturday from 12 noon to 10pm. Instagram @mirzamchocolate

Echo Cafe

Coffee – 4.5/5 Instagrammable factor – 5/5 

Echo Cafe may be located a bit out the way but it’s worth the trip for it’s stunning interior and great coffee. Cool and contemporary, the vibe felt distinctly Californian, the light filled cafe offsets its on-trend exposed grey concrete finishes with a combination of pink, blue and yellow tones. Add in the fancy geometric pastel coloured floor tiles and tonal furnishings and first impressions are striking.

The coffee, ​selectively sourced from global green coffee producers and roasted in-house, is excellent. ​The moist chocolate brownies are definitely worth sampling too. Orders are served on colour coordinated trays or choose to takeaway in their pink or black logo embossed cups. The cafe has several different areas to chill from tables and chairs to sofas and benches. No details has been overlooked and there’s lots of little design touches. I particularly like that Talia Silva, a Toronto based Canadian Ceramic artist, was commissioned to make their gorgeous, customised coffee cups. 

The Echo Machine, Al Sunbulah Street, Abu Dhabi. Opening Times: Daily 7am-10pm. Instagram @theechomachine

Unicorn Cafe

Coffee – 3/5 Instagrammable factor – 4/5 

Imagine a little girls dream of everything pink and unicorns and that pretty much sums up the design concept of Unicorn Cafe. You can’t miss it’s pink exterior, step inside and it’s very twee and one for the gram with an artificial flower wall, flower strewn swing and cuddly unicorns. It’s a bijou place with just a few tables but a surprisingly larger drinks menu than expected with speciality hot and cold coffee choices including V60 and Chemex. Also a selection of Avancha teas, milkshakes and of course a unicorn latte. Try the hot chocolate served in a unicorn mug.

Food options are a little more lacking with just two savoury options (cheese/zaatar croissants and tomato & mozzarella slice) and a whole lot of expensive sweet treats. Cute mermaid and unicorn (of course) cupcakes with an abundance of sugary icing may look inviting but at a hefty AED 35 (over £7) each, I abstained. There’s also equally pricey options of unicorn milk cake (AED 45), cheesecake and donuts. This place is seriously theme heavy and niche. 

Unicorn Cafe, 724 Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Street, Abu Dhabi. Opening Times: Saturday – Thursday  8am-11pm, Friday 9am-11pm. @unicorncafe.ad

Wild & The Moon

Grab a table at vegan favourite Wild & The Moon, the light, open plan space that’s filled with hanging greenery located inside the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation. Wild & The Moon joins Espresso Lab and Mirzam Cafe at the Qasr Al Hosn site which has become a hub of cool cafes.


The plant-based cafe, which also has branches in Dubai and Paris, offers a large selection of vegan snacks, organic salads, cold-pressed juices and hot beverages made with barista grade nut mylks. There’s also nutritious super bowls, daily savoury dishes like soups and focaccia, desserts, wild bars and a dedicated breakfast menu including moon porridge, really the list is endless. 

Wild & The Moon, Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street, Abu Dhabi. Opening Times: Saturday – Thursday 9am-8pm and Friday 10am-10pm. Instagram @wildandthemoon

Read more about Abu Dhabi’s coffee scene in previous posts HERE

*I visited all these venues before Coronavirus self-distancing rules were implemented. Some of these cafes are now only open for delivery and pick up until dine-in is permitted again. All the views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2020. All rights reserved.

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