Although Jordanians have been drinking coffee since the 15th century, Amman’s cafe scene has only recently begun to blossom, with a number of independent, espresso-style cafes now open in the capital. Local coffee roasters, combination cafe-bookshops and terraces with spectacular views have popped up across the city, from West Amman to the hipster neighbourhood of Jebel Lweibdeh.
Here’s our pick of the best places for coffee fiends.
New cafes and coffeeshops have sprung up in Amman's streets © Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock
Rumi is a Lweibdeh institution. Starting out as a tiny space, it has now been expanded and redesigned with geometric patterned charcoal-and-white floor tiles alongside handmade reclaimed wooden furniture and tables. Rumi is justifiably popular, largely thanks to the atmosphere cultivated by the genuinely friendly and welcoming staff. Pass by on a weekday morning for a cappuccino and fresh croissant, and you’ll find folk enjoying the sunny patio on Lweibdeh’s main thoroughfare, Kulliyat al Sharee'ah. By night, it transforms into the throbbing heart of the neighbourhood. The cafe’s tea selection has won many hearts, served in individual vintage teapots, in particular the cardamom-spiced Iraqi tea and the Iranian tea with rosewater. As the poet Rumi, the cafe’s namesake, said, 'Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray'.
Start your morning with a wonderful pour-over coffee at Dimitri's © Alpha_7D / Shutterstock
Dimitri’s Coffee was born from the passion of owner Hisham ‘Dimitri’ Abubaker, who travelled the world for four years visiting coffee roasters. His mission was to establish a speciality coffee roastery in his hometown of Amman, and Hisham’s commitment is evident in the range of coffee available. There are no less than six single-origin coffees and various manual brew methods, including aeropress, siphon, pour-over and chemex. Hisham is a master at customer service and has passed this onto his staff, winning fans from his first cafe near Mecca St and the second outpost in Abdali. You’ll taste the difference from any standard coffee shop brew when you order a pour-over using Costa Rica Rojo beans and prepared with the v60 tool.
One of few cafes in Amman with a smoke-free policy is Caffè Strada, a social hub just off vibrant Rainbow St, serving Italian coffee as well as cakes, paninis and salads. The baristas are knowledgeable about different roasts of coffee, and they also serve more than 30 types of tea. The vibe is laidback and arty, with regular fun initiatives, such as a design your own coffee cup contest. Try the bresaola, mozzarella, tomato and rocket panini for a light lunch.
Take your pick of Yemeni coffee, artisan tea and more at Shams el Balad © Tess Longfield / Lonely Planet
Shams el Balad
This organic cafe in Jebel Amman was one of the first in the city to embrace the farm-to-table concept, with a menu featuring fresh produce from local organic farms. Shams el Balad has fast become a favourite with locals and visitors to Amman who frequent this rustic spot to taste coffee sourced directly from farms in Yemen. There’s also a notable selection of artisan teas thanks to a collaboration with local salon de thé Isteakan. Enjoy great views of the Citadel and downtown area from the shady terrace, where talks and events are often held. Gems from the entirely vegetarian menu include the zaatar (a Middle Eastern herb mix made with thyme and sesame) and cheese tabouneh (a type of flatbread) and the beetroot mutabbal (a dip made with roasted aubergine, similar to baba ghanooj). It’s worth noting that both floors of Shams are open during Ramadan although the terrace is closed.
Wild Jordan Center
Wild Jordan Center, owned by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, is a large building in Amman’s signature beige stone, which has comfy seating and a sleek ecofriendly design. The dedicated family area, with educational activities aimed at promoting environmental awareness, is ideal for distracting the children whilst parents secretly finish off their excellent smoothies, served in glass jars. The cafe has plenty of places to enjoy the views of Amman’s old town and the Citadel. Although the coffee here is good, it takes a back seat to the scenery and food, with healthy, fresh menu options such as kale fattoosh (a salad of toasted bread, tomatoes, onions and mint leaves) and courgette brownies, developed in partnership with organic farm cooperative Yanboot.
Enjoy a coffee in the beautifully designed Majnoon Qahwa © Tess Longfield / Lonely Planet
Despite the name (majnoon means crazy in Arabic), this place is actually very chilled. All the coffee served at Majnoon Qahwa is roasted fresh in house. Pop by on a Thursday afternoon or Saturday morning to see the twice-weekly roasts in process and sample the different single-origin coffees. The newer of the two branches in Abdoun is a design haven in navy and white with a bright yellow pop of colour, creating a calming and relaxing place to sit with your favourite brew. Ask the friendly baristas for their own Majnoon Blend of beans for the best espresso or a refreshing caffeine fix. Their Iced Bedouin Cold Brew coffee also hits the spot, with a hint of cardamom and studded with fresh pomegranate.
Kava Espresso & Brew Bar
Kava is the smallest establishment on our list, but what it lacks in square metres, it makes up for in its coffee. Kava’s loyal customers travel from all over Amman to its unassuming location on a sidestreet in Abdoun for espresso that really packs a punch, tasty croissants and cakes, and a cosy mezzanine seating area. The secret to their excellent brews is that they only serve coffee that's in season, so you can be sure that the beans are freshly roasted, ethically sourced and organic. The exposed brick feature wall juxtaposes nicely with the jade green floor, which is painted with flowers in an Arabic design, whilst simple wooden tables line a small but leafy outdoor area that really comes into its own in the warmer months, making this the perfect place to while away a couple of hours.
The second outpost of Books@Café in Abdoun still has the same laidback vibe as the original © Tess Longfield / Lonely Planet
Originally opened as the first internet cafe in the Middle East, Books@Café in Jebel Amman has long been a hub for thinkers, doers and coffee-lovers alike. Now a bookshop and cafe, it continues to cultivate a reputation for promoting equality and tolerance, being a safe space for the city’s LGBT population. There’s now a second branch in West Amman’s most expensive neighbourhood, Abdoun, which continues the relaxed vibe with bright florals adorning the walls and books on every level. Serving Illy coffee and a range of smoothies, juices and teas, the cafe is popular with the post-exercise yoga crowd, as well as those channelling novelist Anthony Trollope and asking, ‘What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book and a cup of coffee?’
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