The RAW Coffee Company is an absolute treat that I’ve added to my list of top 5 attractions in Dubai.
The RAW Coffee Company imports and roasts coffee, but they also have a spacious (and delicious) café. Throughout the lockdown, unable to travel to U.A.E., I drooled over their website and its descriptions of different beans, their origins and their flavour descriptions. And yes, I drooled over the colour pic of their burger with fat chips and their cinnamon rolls and pastries and caramel slice and…, you know what I mean.
Not being in one of the giant malls means their café is spacious and relaxed. There is a relaxed outdoor space. The staff are eager to explain coffee. The whole place is a temple to fine coffee. All the beans they sell are organic and imported in small batches, roasted and blended on a boutique scale. What caught my attention was that they had a small supply of beans from Yemen. From my own reading I’ve come to understand that the best beans are from Yemen. Sadly, Yemen has a war on. Iran and Saudi Arabia seem to be scrapping it out in Yemen. Given the extent of suffering by innocent Yemenis, it seems, no it is, superficial to then say that growing and exporting and therefore buying Yemeni beans has become difficult.
Why are beans from Yemen the best? With coffee, it’s always and only about the flavour and the higher the altitude the coffee grows at, the better the flavour. Yemeni coffee beans are grown close to 10,000 feet above sea level in fertile soil, where the air is cool and moist. At this altitude, air and soil temperatures are cool and so chemical reactions and biological processes occur more slowly. This means the flavours tend to be more mature and more complex.
The cooler temperature also means the cherries ripen more slowly and so the farmers have time to pick only the ripe ones. In the cooler mountainous temperatures there are fewer insects and so coffee has a lower caffeine level. (Caffeine is an insecticide which is why coffee grown in the lower altitude where insects are more abundant, have higher caffeine levels.) This also means that beans at altitude tend to have less, and often no, insecticides used on them.
The soil in Yemen’s mountains gives coffee beans a less acidic taste. It is sweeter and has a richly floral and chocolaty flavour. If you like the near-burnt taste of coffee from that jolly green giant’s cafes (you know the one), stay away from Yemen’s beans. If you enjoy the complex floral bouquet of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and the rich depth of Samoan dark chocolate then you’ll surely be smitten with coffee that originates in Yemen.
The RAW Coffee Company is about 5 minutes’ walk from the Mashreq stop on the Red Metro line. If you’re a coffee lover and you’re in Dubai, you must visit the RAW Coffee Company and quietly ask for a French Press with grounds from Yemen, find a table in the corner and savour the experience.
(Did I mention the cinnamon buns?)