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Liquid Gold: The growth of craft coffee in Dubai

Dubai: On any given Friday night, large groups of Dubai’s residents descend on their favourite watering hole to enjoy a stimulating drink or two, and talk into the early hours.

But these aren’t pubs — they’re coffee shops.

Dubai’s recently opened Nightjar Coffee takes this metaphor to its logical conclusion, with baristas more closely resembling barmen as they pull half pints of coffee from taps at the bar. The green leather stools and black tiled walls complete the polished, gastropub look.

The new cafe, located at Alserkal Avenue, stocks a wide selection of coffees, both hot and cold, that make up a drop of the $100 billion (Dh367.3 billion) global coffee market.

“There are coffee shops that serve coffee, and there are coffee shops that know coffee,” said Leon Surynt, founding executive director of Nightjar Coffee. “We know and love our coffee.”

For the bean counters, over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed globally every day, while the global market value of the drink is expected to see an annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.5 per cent, according to research by Mordor Intelligence.

For much of the past 50 years, coffee beans were the second-most valuable commodity exported by developing countries, after crude oil. Two exchange-traded funds (ETFs) directly track the performance of the coffee market, and unroasted coffee is traded in futures contracts across many of the world’s largest financial hubs including New York and London.

Starbucks is largely credited with heralding a renaissance in coffee, attracting young, tech-savvy customers around the turn of the century. The boom in branded java saw the company grow from around 2,000 outlets in 1998 to over 28,000 in 2018, with soaring revenues of $22.3 billion, up by 1,615 per cent over the past 20 years.