Image Credit: Agency

If Central Perk and Café Nervosa (from TV shows Friends and Frasier) ring a bell, then you would know how important it is to maintain a healthy coffee culture. In Dubai, we use the phrase ‘Let’s grab a coffee’ religiously. From important job interviews to first dates, coffee houses provide the perfect atmosphere for almost any gathering. With several cafes opening their doors every week, it is likely that you have a minimum of three coffee shops within a 2km radius of your home, 32 if you reside near a mall. The summer is now upon us and a steaming cappuccino outdoors in the afternoon borders on lunacy; a cold coffee, however, is a gift from the heavens.

Coffe Bean and Tea Leaf

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or CBTL as it’s affectionately known, has a faithful following and rarely sees a customer only once. The décor is comfortable and the grub is to die for, but none of that matters as I am on a very specific mission. “May I have your best cold coffee please,” I said. This statement usually results in the barista scuffling around behind the counter and placing a coffee in front of me. But surprisingly, the barista at the CBTL stared back blankly saying, “Which one? We have several.” The Caramel Ice Blended was the chosen one. This was the only cold coffee filled with flavour — stimulating coffee, mild caramel and virtually no crushed ice. The coffee is delicious, light and can be chugged down quickly — definitely the first choice beverage for blistering summer afternoons.

Rating: 4/5
Price: Dh21 regular
Location: Various
Contact: 04 352 2225
(BurJuman Centre)

Starbucks

The new Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino is pleasing on the eye and equally pleasing on the taste buds. Quite dolled up, compared to other cold coffees, with a pose to match the average Starbucks patron, the Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino is surprisingly refreshing, offering a consistent experience from the first sip, right to the end. An additional plus is the chocolate cream on top of the drink — a welcome change from what we’re used to. Chocoholics won’t mind knocking back a few of these frapps however; the amount of chocolate packed into the thing would severely offends diabetics. The ingredients of said frappuccino include chocolate chips, vanilla flavouring, cookie crumbles and chocolate cream.

Rating: 4/5
Price: Dh24 regular
Location: Various
Contact: 04 339 8434
(The Dubai Mall)

Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons has taken the coffee scene in the country by storm and has effectively managed to create a new genre of coffee drinkers — teenage and 20-something coffee connoisseurs. Tim Hortons has a few decent coffees, don’t get me wrong, however its Ice Cap Supreme should have stayed back on Canadian shores. The first (and very brief) burst of creamy cold coffee will satisfy you initially, but the mouthfuls of coffee-flavoured crushed ice that follow until the end of the beverage will not. The Ice Cap Supreme also allows customers to choose a flavour shot, giving your crushed-ice-filled beverage an extra distinctive taste.

Rating: 2/5
Price: Dh19 regular
Location: Various
Contact: 04 298 1547
(Deira City Centre)

Japengo Cafe

Yes, Japengo does have a cold coffee and yes, it can rival many of the dedicated coffee houses out there. The Double Chocolate Coffee blends chocolate ice cream, crushed ice, fresh milk, chocolate sauce and whipped cream, all together in chocolaty yumminess. The quality and quantity of Japengo’s double chocolate coffee is impressive, and when compared to other cold offerings you do get a good amount for the price you pay. Japengo opted for a generous dollop of fresh vanilla ice cream to sit atop their drink rather than the usual whipped cream top making their cold creation a refreshing beverage cum dessert.

Rating: 3/5
Price: Dh22
Location: Various
Contact: 04 331 9969
(Dubai World Trade Centre)

Costa Coffee

The Coffee Caramel Cooler was the recommended beverage from the lovely Costa baristas behind the counter.  Unfortunately, the cooler had the consistency of a thick, meaty broth and lacked creative presentation (whipped cream is an additional Dh4). The cooler is an extremely strong coffee, strong enough to accompany you for an hour. The flip side is that once you manage to down the entire thing, you will be up all night flirting with insomn ia. Despite being quite disappointing overall, the cooler gets points for strength of coffee. I’m sure there are several other respectable cold coffees served by Costa, but the Coffee Caramel Cooler isn’t one of them.

Rating: 3/5
Price: Dh21 regular
Location: Various
Contact: 04 339 8563
(The Dubai Mall)

Caffé Nero

The beverage that takes centre spot on the podium is one of the simplest yet delicious cold coffees in the city. Rarely advertised by Caffé Nero, the Affogato is one of their best seasonal cold coffees. The recipe is simple — ice cream with a double shot of espresso, the presentation is unique and it tastes amazing. What makes the Affogato all the more special is that the ice cream used in this coffee-based beverage is made right in front of you, from scratch. Its price, and the fact that it can pass off as a dessert, plays a big part in the Affogato’s rating — a quick, delicious, strong cold coffee for Dh20 — yes, please!

Rating: 4.5/5
Price: Dh20
Location: Various
Contact: 04 370 0505 (Dubai International Financial Centre)