“A bad day with coffee is better than a good day without it.” Unknown
The capital’s cafe entrepreneurs have been really busy creating exciting spaces offering some great coffee. Abu Dhabi’s speciality coffee scene is booming, so many new places have already opened in 2021 and it’s only August. Some different names have appeared on the scene while existing brands have opened new venues. The waterfront locations of Mamsha Al Saadiyat and Marsana at Al Hudayriyat Island and the recently completed Sheikha Fatima Park have also helped widened the capital’s caffeinating choices.
Good news if you are a LOCAL fan as their long awaited beachfront venue is now open at Mamsha. DRVN have also opened their second cafe at Marsana. Lots of new places to try throughout the capital and lots more on the horizon it would seem, all in all this year is looking good for those of us who like eating and drinking.
Abu Dhabi is full of great coffee shops both old and new, I have taken one for the team and tried one too many cups and sampled a fair few treats along the way. Here’s a look at some of the many additions to the capital’s coffee scene (in alphabetical order rather than preference). Need more inspiration? Check out my previous posts 12 Must Visit Independent Coffee Spots in Abu Dhabi and 13 Cafes To Try in Abu Dhabi | 2020
Coffee – 3/5 Instagrammable factor – 4.5/5
Head to Alkalime at Mamsha Al Saadiyat for its stunning beachfront location, boho chic inspired interior and a menu jam packed with healthy options. The cafe’s ethos is about making little, positive dietary and lifestyle changes so the menu has an abundance of healthy and balanced options. Alkalime offer a selection of caffeinated beverages with non-dairy milks alongside nourishing juices and smoothies. Their ‘Good For You Chocolate Mylkshake’ is a must try.
The space itself gives visitors a place to relax and de-stress, equally an ideal spot to work remotely or meet up with friends. A small retail corner offers their own homemade healthy versions of almond butter, nutella, ketchup and plant based mayo.
Alkalime, Turquoise 7, Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Cultural District, Abu Dhabi. Opening Times: Weekdays 8am – 10pm and weekends 9am – 10pm. Instagram @alkalime_uae
Brunch & Cake
Coffee – 2/5 Instagrammable factor – 4/5
If you like taking photos of cute interiors and eating aesthetically pleasing plates of food then Brunch & Cake in Marsa Al Bateen is the place for you. The cafe has a nice waterfront location and is the third UAE location of the concept that originated in Barcelona.
The menu is vast, offering all-day breakfast and brunch options as well as cakes of all varieties and plenty of vegetarian and vegan options too. Notable dishes include Nutella french toast, shakshuka, next level Avo toast, a brekkie pizza (topped with egg and veal bacon) and a whole range of eggs benny options. Drinks wise there’s organic coffees, specialty drinks like beetroot or paleo black peanut lattes, teas, superfood smoothies, organic juices and even protein shakes. Personally I found the coffee strong and bitter and I couldn’t finish it (hence the low score). Although the menu may look super calorific, Brunch & Cake tarts, muffins, biscuits and cupcakes are 100% vegan without added sugar or syrup.
Brunch & Cake, Marsa Al Bateen, Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi. Telephone: 800 472 6362 Opening Times: Sunday – Wednesday 9am until 10pm, Thursday – Saturday 9am until 11pm. Instagram @brunchandcakeuae
Coffee – 4/5 Instagrammable factor – 4/5
CAF Cafe is a brand new opening in Khalidiya and it’s unlike any other venue in the capital. Originating in Kuwait back in 2016, the CAF Coffee Bar brand has now expanded across the Middle East. The cafe is chic, with an all black interior akin to a bar with glimpses of colour added by tan leather high stools around the central bar and some greenery.
Unlike some others in the initial opening phase the staff here were knowledgeable and the coffee was worth the drive. Their beverage menu is extensive with black and milk based drinks at reasonable prices too unlike some nearby competitors. It’s a self pick-up affair that’s more akin to the coffee chain experience but once you’ve picked up your drink there’s loads of seating to ‘gather, socialize and study’. I can’t comment on the food because when I went there wasn’t any, not a single crumb, due to non-delivery of their order, disappointing but completely plausible. The cafe has a prominent location near the corniche and Sheikha Fatima Park with there’s lots of (paid) parking right outside which is always a bonus.
CAF Cafe, Al Bateen Street, Abu Dhabi. Opening Times: Daily 8am – 10pm except Friday 2pm – 10pm. Instagram @cafcafe
Coffee – 4.5/5 Instagrammable factor – 4.5/5
Dialogue, the self-entitled ‘House of Coffee, Culinary Art and Conversation’, is located at the newly opened Sheikha Fatima Park in Khalidiya. It’s a cool, modern space with a mix of concrete, light wood, rattan and greenery with a central coffee bar and statement light feature. The design has incorporated ample indoor tables throughout the cafe and some outdoor concrete seating that will be popular in cooler weather.
The coffee was great, the baristas/servers were knowledgeable and the cafe offers a choice of beans and blends. There’s a full coffee menu with hot and cold espresso options including their popular tonic espresso, pour over choices such as V60, kalita and chemex and nitro drinks. Kombucha, house cascara and seltzers also feature on the menu. Not the cheapest coffee around but worth the splurge. Food options are vast from the more fancier lobster and wagyu steak to grills, risotto and sandwiches. Those with a sweet tooth can indulge in fresh pastries and desserts like lemon meringue cheesecake and the rather tempting triple chocolate brownie.
Dialogue’s has branded tote bags for sale and a retail collaboration with chic French brand Kilometre.Paris offering handmade raffia baskets, shoes and accessories.
Dialogue, Sheikha Fatima Park, Al Khalidiya, Abu Dhabi. Opening Times: Daily 8am – 10:30pm. Instagram @dialogue
DRVN Coffee at Marsana
Coffee – 4/5 Instagrammable factor – 4/5
Great coffee using their own artisan in-house roasted beans and authentic Napoleon style pizzas are the standout reasons to visit DRVN. The second location of this homegrown brand is located at Marsana, the beachfront dining zone at Al Hudayriyat Island. Like the original venue cars in glass boxes are the focal point, look out for the cool vintage Chevy truck showcased inside the cafe.
There’s a good all-day breakfast selection including various eggs options, avo on toast and pancakes. Lunch and dinner menus offer the delicious made-to-order pizzas (my favourite in Abu Dhabi), burgers and healthier options like salads and Acai bowls. Desserts and sweet treats on offer too, the Nutella tiramisu looks very enticing. Grab a table on outside terrace facing the ocean in cooler months especially if you are visiting at sunset.
Coffee – 2/5 Instagrammable factor – 4/5
Ground may be small and simple but this hidden gem in the West Yas Plaza is great news for Yas Island dwellers who need more neighbourhood coffee options. The neutral coloured space that’s been created by local designers Shell + Core (previous work includes LOCAL and Alkalime) is totally charming.
While the space may be compact the menu is substantial. Coffee choices include everything you may expect from a V60 to frappe with the more unusual turmeric and caramel lattes too. There’s breakfast options, healthy bowls, sandwiches and sweet treats as well as a dedicated kids menu and smoothies. The coffee was pretty strong and too bitter for my taste but there’s many other beverage options to suit all tastes. This community based cafe offers a quiet place to enjoy a coffee and a light bite before your Spinney’s shop or your favourite brew for takeaway.
Ground, West Yas Plaza, Yas Island. Telephone : Opening Times : Daily 9am – 11pm Instagram: @groundcafe.ae
LOCAL Mamsha Al Saadiyat
Coffee – 5/5 Instagrammable factor – 5/5
The second outpost of this popular homegrown speciality coffee shop has definitely been worth the wait. The three concept space features a speciality coffee shop, in-house barbershop and a curated retail space. LOCAL serves delicious coffee from Danish roastery Prolog, try their popular V60, Spanish latte and cold brew but watch out as their coffee is totally additive. A selection of Artisan sourdough sandwiches, including vegetarian and vegan options, are supplied by Miche as well as a selection of pastries. There’s also sweet treats and fresh Açai bowls.
The new space certainly has the wow factor with so many unique design features that it’s hard to know where to look first. The attention to detail is exceptional, the bespoke glass coffee counter and the greenhouse inspired barbershop are striking. It maybe ‘more beach, less street’ than the original Al Zeina venue but there’s top notch lifestyle retail opportunities in lieu of sneakers and streetwear. Grab some premium brands and exclusive LOCAL Mamsha t-shirts, totes and handmade customised Oka ceramics. Cooler weather will see the opening of the outdoor terrace seating area where customers can look forward to sipping their favourite coffee with a view of the ocean, it doesn’t get better than that!
LOCAL, Lilac 6, Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island. Opening Times: Daily – 8:00 am – 11:00 pm Telephone: 050 200 9603. Instagram @_localuae_
Montauk Boutique Cafe
Coffee –3.5/5 Instagrammable factor – 4/5
Fully committed to its Long Island aesthetic, Montauk Boutique Café in Al Bateen is a three-story cafe that takes inspiration from upmarket Hamptons beach houses. The elegant space has bold beach style stripy cushioned seating, light wood furniture and rope features, the iconic Montauk lighthouse even features on its logo.
The coffee was good but more pricey than your average speciality cafe. The menu is vast with hot and cold options for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a selection of coffee, drinks and a good selection of tempting home baked cakes and desserts. There’s also vegetarian and vegan choices as well as gluten free options.
Montauk Boutique Cafe, Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street, Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi. Telephone: 02 546 6255 Opening times: Daily 8am – 10pm. Instagram @montaukabudhabi
Coffee –3/5 Instagrammable factor – 3/5
‘Shall we meet under the palms’ is this quaint little cafe’s slogan and the answer is simply yes because it’s hard not too. Located near ADNEC, Palms Cafe is tucked away at the back of a mini mall so not that obvious. Pink walls, faux greenery, palm embossed textiles and a colourful feature wallace are complemented by rattan furniture and accessories. There’s a decent sized outdoor area with seating and fans.
The coffee was nice and well presented, I liked their on-trend ceramic cups served on individual wooden trays. Lots of food choices too from avo on toast and other breakfast items to cheesecakes and brownies, the french toast looked very tempting. They even pimp up your cookie, not sure I would have opted for that but that’s how it came. Good spot to pick up a takeaway or one of their iced coffee boxes especially if you work in that area.
Palms Cafe, Telephone: 02 546 3535. Opening times: Weekdays 7:30am – 10pm and weekends 10am – 10pm. Instagram @palmsae
Coffee – 4/5 Instagrammable factor 4.5/5
Having opened its doors as summer hit, Sla Cafe near ADNEC is starting to create a buzz in the capital that’s been helped by their drive thru pick-up service. Stay in your air conditioned vehicle while your coffee is delivered to the car, yes please. Their slogan ‘Where taste meets design’ could not be truer, the contemporary interior’s all white design has stylish terrazzo tables, dark wood and rattan chairs, plenty of comfy sofas accessorised with pastel ceramics and tribal wall hangings.
Alongside the speciality coffee and filter options there’s a selection of premium beans, some of which come with a hefty price tag. It’s an attractive place to enjoy a latte and a rather massive, indulgent nutella filled croissant. If you want a more substantial bite to eat there’s a good menu with plenty of choice with breakfast dishes, health bowls including Açai, lunch & dinner options and an abundance of desserts.
Sla Cafe, ADNEC area, Al-Aryaf building, Abu Dhabi. Opening hours: Daily 08:00am – 1:00am. Instagram @slacafe
Coffee – 4.5/5 Instagrammable factor 2/5
This hidden gem has eight locations throughout the city that offer ethically sourced beans roasted in their Mussafah roastery. Slash Coffee is a homegrown brand that serves really good coffee and a limited choice of food including Açai bowls, sweet treats and pastries, the lotus brownie is a top choice. There’s a selection of hot and cold brews as well as ice teas. Popular for takeaway and curbside pick-up available at some branches.
Coffee – 3/5 Instagrammable factor 3.5/5
Storie’s beverage menu is imaginative with unique drinks alongside the regular lattes and espressos along with a choice of breakfast dishes such as Shakshuka, smashed avo and eggs. There’s also some more unusual items like a breakfast burger and a chicken & cheese chilli croissant. I have it on good authority that their avo toast is one of the best in the city.
It’s a nice space, much larger than expected and fully committed to their book theme. The coffee was ok but not amazing and the service was lacklustre, so much so that I didn’t get to order any food before I’d finished my latte. The service and tricky paid parking situation would deter me from rushing back as there’s more accessible places, like % Arabica and Rain Cafe, nearby.
Storie Cafe, C18 Corniche Building, Al Tahireen Street, Abu Dhabi. Telephone: 02 546 3713 Opening Times: Daily 8am – 10:30 pm Instagram: @storiecafe
Ten 11 Beach
Coffee – 2/5 Instagrammable factor – 2.5/5
Ten 11 Beach has a desirable beachfront location on the Mamsha Al Saadiyat promenade. Known more as a boutique restaurant rather than a dedicated coffee house they offer a variety of savoury options and desserts alongside their own branded coffee beans. The light-filled interior is pleasant with pastel colours and hints of gold, however the cafe’s piece de resistance is its large outdoor ocean facing terrace.
The strong coffee was not my favourite but I recommend the flatbread which was huge and tasty. Regular coffee choices such as espresso, cortado and flat white are served alongside signature drinks like affogato, rose and red velvet lattes and a cold saffron latte. Varieties of pre-bottled cold coffee are available for takeaway. The international menu has regional influences with pasta, tacos, salads alongside falafel, kofta and saffron milk cake. Ten 11 coffee boutiques are also located at Khalifa Park and Marina Mall as well as branches in Al Ain, Dubai, Sharjah and RAK.
Ten 11 Beach, Jacques Chirac Street, Mamsha Al Saadiayt, Abu Dhabi. Opening Times: Daily 7am – midnight. Instagram @ten11cafeuae
Coffee – 2/5 Instagrammable factor – 4/5
With a whale tail as its logo and coastal inspired Instagram feed you would expect White Cafe to be in a beachfront location but this small cafe is hidden amongst mixed use high rises in the city. You have to admire the commitment to their design aesthetic and there’s no doubt it’s cute. The eye-catching black and white palette is accessorised with rattan furniture and surf boards, there’s also a nice outside area.
The menu is limited and the coffee was way too strong for my taste. I went in the soft opening phase so I didn’t get the best first impression. The staff were confused over what food they serve and my coffee order was wrong. If you live or work in this area it’s a nice place to visit, curbside orders seem to be more popular than dine-in. I’m sure now it’s more established service levels have improved.
White Cafe, Sa’d Bin ‘Ubadah St, Zone E20-02, Abu Dhabi. Telephone: 056 129 7478 Opening Times: Saturday – Tuesday 8am – 11pm, Wednesday – Friday 8am – midnight. Instagram @whitecafeuae
Read more about Abu Dhabi’s coffee scene in previous posts HERE
I visited all these cafes. All the experiences and views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2021. All rights reserved. Three additional photos used with courtesy of Slash Coffee