PDF Icon Basket Icon Close Icon Close Icon Arrow Facebook Arrow Pause Pinterest Play previous Search Sound Twitter


InterviewTalking Beans With Nightjar Coffee

Words by Nathan Irvine

We sat down with Nightjar Coffee's owner and head of coffee to find out what keeps them ahead of the pack

You need to head off the beaten track if you want to find the best coffee houses in Dubai. The independent stores and roasteries that are tucked away in the back streets of the emirate are well known to the region’s coffee aficionados. But to the average Joe in the street? Not much so.

One such place is Nightjar Coffee that’s tucked away in the arty district of Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz. Not only does it have a menu of tasty foods, it also serves up some of the finest coffee in Dubai. So good are the beans, that are roasted on-site, that super-chic Zuma Dubai uses them exclusively for its much-lauded Espresso Martini.

We sat down with owner Leon Surynt and Head of Coffee Antony Papandreuo to talk all things coffee.

Nightjar Coffee Dubai


There's always a lively vibe

When did your passion for coffee start?

Antony Papandreou: I always liked drinking coffee. I was that precocious kid who went for the Nescafé over the Nesquik. And I’m not sure I’d identify coffee as being a passion though. That word gets bandied about to the point where it’s become a cliché.

I like the life that comes with working in coffee. The interactions. The experiences.  The further I go down the road of working in coffee, the more it becomes me. I don’t have the t-shirt. I like where it’s taken me. And I love where it’s taking me. It’s difficult to pinpoint a beginning. And impossible to imagine an end. How’s that for a cliché?

Leon Surynt: Between the ages of 12-15 I had a weekend job picking strawberries for a Croatian family farm down the road from me. They would barrel up the roughest red grape drink and make the thickest, blackest, sweetest Turkish coffee, which we’d enjoy with food at the end of our shift.

Then when I moved to Wellington as a student, one of the first streets I walked up was Cuba Street with Havana Coffee’s hot air roaster blasting the smell of delicious coffee down the windy street.

They had a great café called Midnight Espresso, and after 10pm on a Sunday night they would be packed to the brim with all walks of life – artists, party people, hospitality workers, night workers. It had crazy alternative jazz vibes, too. Think Victorian Sea Shanties x Fred Wesley & JBs x Sun Ra. It blew my mind.

I’d also sit all night drinking Café Vienna; a double shot of coffee in a glass topped with fresh cream and brown sugar. Café Vienna features on Nightjar’s menu as my personal homage to such a sensory time and experience.

How do you choose the coffee beans for Zuma’s Espresso Martini?

LS: As we were switching from making an espresso based martini, to a cold brew based one, we had to be conscious of the varied intensity between the two. This had to be considered when selecting the bean origin and then a roast profile that carried a lot of punch. There’s a lot of competing flavours in Zuma’s martini, so it was important that the flavour of the coffee could carry through in balance.

What characteristics does it need?

AP: We found that the roast profile became more significant than the origin (as long as it was a high scoring coffee) and it also depended largely on the recipe of the final product and what was the intention of the beverage.

For example, is the aim of the bar to create a traditional tasting Espresso Martini, where the Central American coffees suited with full bodied nutty and dark-cocoa flavours? Or is the end product intended to be a more fruity experience?

However, one thing was consistent; we had to develop the coffee enough in the roast to bring out the right amount of oils in the coffee. This is essential in achieving the delicate foam expectation of an Espresso Martini. Even if it’s made with a cold brew.

Nightjar Coffee Dubai


The food is also on point at Nightjar Coffee

Nightjar Coffee - Leon


Nightjar Coffee owner, Leon Surynt

What sets Nightjar aside from the other independent coffee house in Dubai?
LS: This is difficult to answer. Nightjar is just a product of what we do and love. Does that set us apart?

What’s the one thing that people misinterpret about coffee?

AP: That it gives you energy. It doesn’t. It just mimics a chemical called adenosine, which makes you feel tired. So caffeine blocks tiredness, as opposed to actively giving you energy.

What’s your coffee fact/piece of trivia to wow new people you meet?

AP: Coffee does actually grow on trees.

Finally, how can we recreate that barista style coffee at home?

AP: Start drinking filter coffee. Then get yourself a Kalita Wave Kit, an Aeropress, or whatever you fancy. But a grinder is an absolute must. Buy whole beans, not pre-ground (the flavour disappears quickly after being ground).  Then create a ritual.

View Bag Checkout