Visit the Coffee Museum at Villa 44

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Visit the Coffee Museum at Villa 44
Entrance to the Coffee Museum, Villa 44 in Bastakiya.

The collection is lovingly curated and results in time well spent, in the small complex.

By Harveena Herr

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Published: Fri 24 Feb 2017, 6:06 PM

Last updated: Fri 24 Feb 2017, 8:58 PM

Tucked away in one of the lanes of the Bastakiya neighbourhood in Dubai is the Coffee Museum. Ideally, it should be serendipitous - the discovery of an entire museum devoted to my favourite brew, coffee. Situated right next to an open courtyard with a ber or jujube tree, described as the Christ Thorn elsewhere in the traditional complex, with a metal-engraved cart with sacks of coffee beans presumably, thrown artfully across.
A small board outside says, rather charmingly, Villa 44. You step into the main entrance that is flanked by a small cosy Majlis, and rooms that contain separately, Middle Eastern as well as international antiques. The collection is lovingly curated and results in time well spent, in the small complex. A small room on coffee origins has sacks filled with coffee beans - there and across the museum, I noted all the countries of origin. It makes for a very impressive list: Ethiopia, Honduras, Vietnam, Colombia, Rwanda, Kenya, Peru, Sumatra, India, Yemen, Brazil, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico, Jamaica.
Facing the visitor across from the entrance, is large, interesting, beaten silver cabinetry that turns out to be an Egyptian charcoal fire burner. Wouldn't I love to have that in my courtyard? Ibriks - metal pans with practical wooden handles are used to brew a brilliant cuppa. The central courtyard rises up to the upper level, bringing in light and an illusion of expanding the space. A recessed niche on the right brings you to the lovely Salam from Ethiopia, who roasts coffee beans in the traditional manner and brews a beautiful cup of Ethiopian coffee for you. The low stools make for cosy seating encircling the star of the show. The coffee was strong, and rounded. I could have it every day.
Like all of Bastakiya, the interior of the Coffee Museum also has the ability to transport you to a different world. The narrow wooden staircase is charming, and takes you to the upper level, which has books, literature on coffee, a media room, as well as a children's play area to keep little ones occupied while you have your fill of a dark roast. All the rooms have colourful, woven kilims on the floor, and such elements native to coffee producing regions are scattered across the museum.
The Coffee Brew Bar invites visitors and can get really busy, with the soft-spoken John Paul (call him JP) at the counter quite willing to answer all your queries while brewing up the perfect cup of coffee. There are 12 to 13 types of coffee brewing contraptions at the bar, but the most popular method for customers is the pour over or manual brew, which is actually the Vietnamese style of percolation, followed by the Japanese siphon method, which can transform you, the brewmaster, into a showman. Showperson/Ringleader/ Grand Panjandrum, what-have-you, so long as you pick up something similar from the museum shop and finesse your new-found skills at home. JP had recommended the Guatemalan coffee but we settled on the Ethiopian Sidamo eventually, and have no complaints. Whatsoever.
Bag o' beans
Arabica coffee grows in the highlands. Cool, elevated place. Characteristic very high in acid content. It is sweet. Most traded coffee.Robusta coffee grows in the lowlands. Low acidity. An element called pyrazine gives it its characteristic bitterness. Considered to have medicinal quality. About 40 per cent volume grown in Vietnam alone. Totals 30 per cent of world coffee production. Popular use in instant coffee blen
Harveena is an aesthete who has abandoned tea and dedicated herself to becoming a  full-time Java Jo

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