Dubai v London – how hipster coffee and warehouses don’t equate to a hipster ‘hood


I gave up being a coffee-snob-in-denial after, “Turkish coffee, please”, resulted in a one-sachet-cappuccino followed swiftly, still nursing a burnt tongue and offended tastebuds, by a Google search for “hipster coffee Dubai”.

Other than good Turkish and Arabic black unfiltered coffee, every single cappuccino or called-a-flat-white-but-not-remotely-like-a-flat-white I’d had in Dubai had been overpriced and resolutely positioned in the “foul to undrinkable” category of supposed coffee.

My Google search led me to the industrial area of Al Quoz, around Noor Bank Metro Station, which I expected to be full of moustachiod, tatooed, bike-riding hipsters, warehouses, lofts and little to no industry remaining, thus a parallel with the super hip Shoreditch, east London.

To confirm (or perhaps quash) my expectations, I noted the following as similarities between Shoreditch, London and Al Quoz, Dubai:

Al Quoz and Shoreditch are both located close to a business centre.


Across the industrial estate sandy car parks towards Burj Khalifa and the business/financial districts of Dubai

Travelling by bicycle (where the London Overground/Hipsterline is absent).


Cycling through the industrial hipster wasteland (sort of)

Of course there must be graffiti.


Surely this counts as graffiti?!

Some random bits of Tracy-Emin-unmade-bed/is-that-art type installations around the area.


Is it some cool pattern or sign on the ground or is it a work glove that’s been flattened in the sand by vehicles driving over and parking on it?

Likewise, some cool, photogenic, quirky vehicles and good signage for Instagram purposes.


Vintage cars and a metal arrow; the stuff of hipster Instagram accounts

The area must be industrial with an abundance of cool warehouses.


Some of the more photogenic warehouses, in full industrial use

The cafes should embrace their industrial roots and the love of coffee.


Photoshopped Raw Coffee interior with coffee sack upholstery (though how fabulous is the zebra print?!) and artwork and full-on warehouse metal

Everyday objects should be transformed into cool, usable things that you make a mental note (that is never realised) to replicate at home.


Flat white in Tom&Serg with oat tin for cutlery

The coffee should be good, expensive and have fancy latte art where milk/foam is involved.


a really rather lovely flower atop a flat white from a RAW outlet, Friends Avenue Cafe

Lifestyles should be being played out and creativity on laptops should be taking place.


From the mezzanine at Tom&Serg, Al Quoz

See what I mean: great, expensive flat whites; warehouses; abundant Instagram opportunities; industrial; graffiti.  Yet the hipster elements are not Shoreditch.  I’m not complaining or saying it should be any different, it just made me think about all things hipster and how stereotypes don’t always work out.  The joyous discovery of these cafes* in Dubai has, thankfully, saved me from freeze dried coffee or enormous bowls of milky coffee from the chains I can now freely admit to disliking since my outing myself as a coffee snob.

I should add, there was also kale, sourdough bread and avocado on the Tom&Serg menu!


Note the kale, sourdough bread and avocado on the Tom&Serg, Al Quoz menu

  • RAW Coffee Company, Al Quoz, Dubai.  (the free RAW Refuel app shows on a Dubai map where RAW-serving outlets are, including Friends Avenue Cafe, Jumeirah Lake Towers)
  • Tom&Serg, Al Quoz, Dubai.  (don’t be deceived looking at a map, it is a long walk from a Metro station)





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