Flat White, Doha, Qatar
The Oyster Roundabout, The Pearl, Doha, Qatar
I love when I get to share my love of coffee shops with friends. I especially appreciate friends who willingly go along with many coffee adventures without warning and smile the whole time. If you ever visit a new city with me, there's a 99% chance that we're going to hit up a coffee shop everyday, sometimes two or three times a day. I try to only submit my husband and closest friends to the 2+ coffee shop days, because I realize that not everyone is big on multiple cups of coffee a day. Last weekend, a few friends and I went to the lunch buffet at the Doha Sheraton, which is quite possibly the fanciest buffet I have ever eaten. Prime rib, salmon, multiple curries, seafood, made to order steaks -- and that's just some of the meats. I ate until I was sick. Afterward, we scouted out an antique shops in the Pearl District and after realizing that we could barely afford anything in the store aside from a napkin, we diverted our interest to a near-by coffee shop. Okay, I perhaps diverted our interest to a nearby coffee shop... but me oh my, was it ever wonderful!
Flat White made of the best Flat Whites I've had in a couple years!
The aesthetic of the shop is immediately captivating. The big open front windows bounce natural light off the walls inside and also serves the equally important purpose of keeping all the plants alive. Hanging from the ceiling are about one dozen grasses, which gives this cafe a fresh rainforest vibe. Green plants and/or cacti have become almost as ubiquitous as coffee in coffee shops and I'm not mad about it.
Before we jump into the coffee itself, let's talk about the people and the passion behind the shop. Nassar Al-Naemi and Maryam Al Badar had been exposed to the coffee culture at a young age, but following travel and professional coffee education and training during adulthood, the two felt empowered to open up Flat White to fulfill their pursuit of creating the perfect cup. Flat White was the first specialty coffee shop in Qatar that served to the golden standard of the Specialty Coffee Association. These folks take their coffee seriously and it shows in the drinks they serve.
In addition to espresso based items, Flat White serves specialty coffee via almost all of the specialty brewing methods: V-60, Chemex, Kalita Wave, Siphon and Aeropress. Their baristas are methodical in the preparation and serious about the quality. Bonus: They not only have a flat white, but a mini flat white. I supposed this comes with the territory when the drink is also the name of the shop.
Was I intrigued by the all the coffee options? Absolutely. Did I order a Flat White anyway? You betcha. After snapping about a thousand photos to capture the unique presentation of my flat white in this handle-less blue ceramic cup, I dove in. It was creamy, the espresso was vibrant and everything felt right in the world. I hadn't had a properly prepared flat white in years. I was tempted to go back for a second; however, another specialty item caught my attention: Karak.
Karak, or Karak Chai, is specialty drink in the Middle East. This isn't a Chai in the westernized sense of the word, but it does have similarities. Karak is a strong black tea that is mixed with milk, spices (such as cardamom and saffron) and evaporated milk. It's served hot and usually made the night before. If you're used to black coffee, the sweetness of it can be a little overpowering, but I found it delicious.
We can't talk about the coffee, without talking about the beans! Flat White uses a variety of single origin roasts from renowned roasters all over the world. In the photo above, you'll spot The Barn, a roaster based in Germany, but the one in my hand is Roastado Coffee. Flat White's chief barista, Ashrani, explained that Roastado is one of the few coffees roasted in Qatar and this Ethiopian was used to make my flat white. If I didn't already have a couple of coffee bags in my desk, I would have bought it in a heart beat.
Ashrani also revealed the Flat White has begun the process to open their own roaster and began roasting their own beans. Flat White has a second location already, where the roasting will take place. Keep your ears open for the story breaks!
The vibe of the shop, the plants hanging from the ceiling and the friendliness of the barista made this shop a pleasant experience. In terms of coffee, this shop served the best I've had so far. The quality is unsurprising given their pursuit of the perfect cup and their allegiance to the highest specialty coffee standards. Eager to go back and try more!