Positioned within the sun-baked Bastakiya alongside the Dubai Creek, the Dubai Coffee Museum is a coffee sanctuary of sorts. It could easily be mistaken for a traditional villa, situated in the Emirate’s primeval existing building, the 18th century Al Fahidi Fort. But once I arrived at the low door, I was in a different world altogether, a world replete with the plush whiff of coffee.
It is no wonder that coffee merchant, and collector, Khalid Al Mulla selected one of Dubai's restored homes to preserve an age-old Arab tradition, caffeine-quaffing, when he thought of giving shape to UAE’s first coffee repository. Spread across two floors with a prevailing vestibule intertwined with sketches of flags of coffee-fond countries, this museum is a genuine sensory delight, and one that has all the accessories of becoming a coffeeholic's revered destination.
AL MULLA’S AWE INSPIRING COLLECTION
Intriguingly, this museum showcases not only relics of local coffee, but also vitrines global coffee history. On exhibition are objects linked to coffee creation and coffee ingesting. For example, it highlights the dallah, a curved metal coffee pot with an extended shrill spout is what the Bedouins used to brew in for their kahwa, characteristically escorted by dates in place of sugar. Khalid Al Mulla got these from a coffee museum in Hamburg when it closed, so what I got to see was a star of European exhibits – which also explains the rare section of antique coffee promotion on the walls, inscribed in German.
It also features coffee grinders from the First World War made out of cast bullets, and ancient brewing pots from Egypt, Yemen and Ethiopia.
An 18th century book from Germany encompasses a hundred and seventy-seven pages dedicated to the beans. “The way we have been brought up; coffee has continuously engaged a vigorous space in our culture,” says Al Mulla. “We serve coffee to our guests to welcome them.”
Amongst the gamut of antiques on display, are 300-year-old examples of the characteristic jug-shaped clay coffee pots archaeologically used by the Ethiopians called ‘jebena’ and the Yemeni equivalent, known as ‘jamena’. These noticeable cousins echo the very initial beginning of coffee consumption, and the scope of coffee roasting.
DO NOT MISS
I would highly endorse trying a cup of Ethiopian coffee made by an Ethiopian lady on the ground floor. The museum also encompasses an Emirati-style majlis, where native Bedouin coffee cultures are spotted. Truly, since coffee is such an essential part of Arabic culture, it is important to revel in it while here. But if you like it more modern, head up to the first floor where there's a reformed brew-bar. Here a barista will craftily lay out your preferred cuppa even as you get rivetted with the story of coffee adorning the walls.
Where Villa 44, Al Fahidi Heritage Museum, Bur Dubai (04 380 6777).
Nearest Metro Al Fahidi
Timings 9am to 5pm. Closed on Fridays