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Tucked away in a cosy corner on the first floor of Sunset Mall in Jumeirah is Spill the Bean, an independent speciality coffee shop. The café focuses on single-origin coffees and supreme quality blends — all 100 per cent organic and sourced through 100 per cent fair trade.
So what makes this coffee shop different from other speciality cafes? First of all, this is one of the earliest home-grown coffee shops to have successfully evolved in Dubai, and secondly the bites here are as tempting and passionately created as its brews.
Ola Sinna, the owner of Spill the Bean, is a designer and has created the space as a montage of sounds, sights, memories and nostalgia collected over the years. “My husband and I are coffee lovers and we used to spend much of our time in different coffee shops, reading books and sipping on coffee — a good coffee, of course,” she says. “Like people go on food tours, we would do coffee tastings. It has been a part of every trip we have made.
“When we look back, coffee and food have always given us happiness and so we thought of starting something that has been at the back of our minds?”
If you look closely at Spill the Bean, you’ll realise a lot of research has gone into the café — be it the interiors or the menu. The floor has been recreated with bright tiles to resemble the floors of traditional homes in Lebanon. “Sadly, families are selling off these floorings in Lebanon to meet increasing costs,” says Sinna, adding that she tries to hold on to her heritage.
The menu too is created after much experimentation. Sinna makes sure the food is healthy as well as tasty. She is, however, quick to confess that her husband detests the word gluten-free as he finds such dishes tasteless.
A wholewheat, date and cinnamon pancake arrives at the table dripping with date syrup. It is delicious even without sugar — absolutely guilt-free, but what blows me away is a frothy cold brew of Mexican coffee beans with dates. A natural energy drink with no added sugar, it is hard to believe that there is no milk or cream that has gone into it. It’s just the way the machine has cold brewed it, I am told.
A long red community table takes centre stage at the café, along with a row of bookshelves lined up, which feature a wide selection of books provided by The Book Shelter. You can donate a novel to the café’s library in exchange for free coffee. To encourage reading, especially classics, special discounts are given on special occasions to commemorate an author’s work. It had been Dante’s birthday week recently and anybody bringing in a copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy or asking for a copy of the same to read at the café could avail of a discount.
When asked about the competition she faces from other new-age cafés, Sinna says, “Oh it’s such an exciting time to be in Dubai as the benchmark is being pushed higher and higher. When we opened, people weren’t aware of terms such as specialty coffee or single-origin coffee. Now they want more out of their coffee. They no longer want a popular coffee chain, but are demanding something more.
“This is a trend that is going to last as coffee is not only addictive, but a good coffee [could] become a part of your life. Once you have a good cup of coffee, you can’t go back to a regular coffee chain.” So as Ola spills the beans behind her success, I am definitely addicted to this little gem and promise to come back for my next round of speciality coffee.
Spill the Bean is located in Sunset Mall in Jumeirah.
Source: Ishita B. Saha, Special to Property Weekly
Founder of Foodemagdxb.com and author of Ishitaunblogged.com
This section features lesser-known places and events that are delightfully distinct in their own way. It could be a quaint little café or simply a charming lake. If it’s got character and brings a smile to your face, it’s a hidden gemthat will find a place on this page. If you know of a hidden gem, email the Editor at email@example.com