It is the sacred morning ritual for millions of people around the world, most of whom swear by it and simply cannot start their day without it. It keeps them going, it keeps them awake. It is one simple drink with a complex chemical interaction: coffee.
People enjoy their coffee in different ways. Some like it hot, some like it cold, some prefer the quick strong shots of an espresso while others want to savour their coffee in a long drink. Some want it strong black, while others prefer it diluted with milk. And then we have the milk substitutes, the vegan alternatives, and it’s a whole story there. After that you have the finer details that true coffee addicts argue about; the origin of the beans, the processing and essentiality; the quality of the final product. There are so many factors to consider, from the elevation of the harvest to the drying methods utilised, and let’s not even get started on the intoxicating awakening aroma of a good coffee. It is indeed every single possible detail that plays a part in producing their favourite cup of coffee.
When it comes to coffee, Muscat is changing. People are not satisfied anymore with the simple quick fix of Nescafe (many don’t even consider it a ‘real’ coffee). If you like your coffee, then you want it to be real coffee, and you want it to be of good quality. After all, it is the drink that creates the true ambience of those first moments of your day. It may be the best part of your day; that first moment of pure peace before the day begins. Where you organise your thoughts and intentions for the day. You want to savour that moment just as you savour your coffee. You don’t want it to be simply satisfactory. You want it to be exceptional. That perfect cup of coffee. That perfect moment.
Coffee beans are grown on trees only in specific parts of the world with particular conditions. Growing the best beans requires just the right elevation, latitude and climate, and different growing conditions. These factors result in variations in the aroma and intensity of the final product.
Many coffee houses have opened over the years across Muscat. People’s love for coffee is responsible for the growing number of many specialty coffee spots around town. Not only are these coffee lover havens brewing great, genuine coffee, but they are also buying the beans in raw form and roasting it themselves to ensure the freshest and best coffee is provided. The best of these cafe’s have opted not to buy commercial brands, but to rather import from niche beans from specific farms in different regions around the world; supporting local business in the process.
At Muscathome.com we tried many coffee shops in Muscat, Oman, we tasted some good, some awful, and some excellent ones. Our final decision was not only about the drink we were served, but all the details that went through it in its journey from that distant farm and into our cup.
It was not an easy choice to pick the best cup of coffee in all of Muscat, but after much deliberation. We are confident in our choice that the best coffee is in fact Azura coffee shop in Muscat.
The attention to detail that Azura had put into the process of their coffee, is exactly what true coffee connoisseurs are looking for. The mindful selection of a farm where they work closely with the farm owner, allows them to customise their cup even better. Their choice of farm is where the beans are treated in the community and add value to the lives and families of many. They know the farmer who sows their coffee beans- how cool is that? They explain how the climate in those regions are perfect for the beans, and how the process of roasting is done with such care as to create its exceptional flavour.
Azura was founded by Mohammed, MuhiAldeen (two local brothers) and one of their friends in 2018. And even though they come from a family of tea lovers, they have been drinking coffee since a young age. Coffee for them initially began as a business, but to Mohammed, it is always more than that. To him, coffee it is life.It is everything. Our impression of Mohammed’s coffee is an obsession.
While there is an artful and delicate process that goes into achieving the perfect coffee, there is also a special art in achieving the perfect experience. We feel like Azura coffee achieves the best combination of quality product and perfect ambiance. The interior of the Azura coffee shop is set in a minimalist design, with a charming simplicity that pairs perfectly with the way they roast their beans as well as the knowledge and dedication of their staff, makes you feel like you truly are at a place that knows and respects their coffee. Even the way they serve their water, sparkling with each specialty cup of coffee, is exceptional. We love it, and we’re sure you will too as its’ the best coffee shops in Muscat!
Graduating with a degree in construction engineering in 2016, Mohammed initially followed his father's footsteps to run the family construction business. He realised early on that construction was not his calling, and also that he couldn't see himself in a few years' time working as a construction engineer. So, he decided to follow his dream of starting his own business, and then brainstormed with his brother discussing various business ideas while sipping their favourite drink -coffee- around Muscat.
It was on one trip to Denmark that Mohammed found his dream. It took one drink, one sip, and that was that. It was the best coffee Mohammed has ever tasted. This coffee, he explains, changed with every sip, it was sweet, sour, bitter, infused with various aromas, all in that one cup. Mohammed thought ‘why is this different? How is it so special? Why can't we bring this cup of perfection to Muscat? And that is how it began.
In Denmark the coffee culture was different compared to anywhere else; small coffee houses around town with one barista, small shared benches where everyone sat together and chatted, chatted about coffee, and chatted about life.
So it began, an idea that travelled all the way from Denmark to reach multiple franchises around Muscat, the most recent in Sohar. As most journeys go, of course, it was not easy. Even though coming from a business family gave him the benefits of support if needed, Mohammed considered every detail in order to be the best. From selecting the beans and the roasting methods to which coffee machines were to be used, the selection of staff, and of course the exquisite interior design of the venues. The coffee grinder was something different and the best top of the range available. Mohammed told a story of a small farm in Columbia where a priest and his wife harvest the beans. The process and dedication that the farmer puts into is just heartwarming and inspiring and we appreciate the coffee even more.
The journey took Mohammed to various GCC cities to experience their evolved coffee culture. He learnt from these different places; Dubai was different, so was Doha, so was Kuwait. In Doha he found a mentor where he agreed to consult and help Mohammed to establish his first coffee house. Coming from construction, Mohammed had zero knowledge when it came to coffee. But finally, the first Azura branch was opened in Muscat on the Waterfront in Shatti Al Qurum in 2018. The first day Mohammed was shocked and surprised by the amount of coffee addicts who turned up on the opening day. It was an emotional day with family, friends and just normal people like me and you to taste the best coffee in Muscat from Azura, equipped with only two experienced staff. Mohammed was overwhelmed about how to cope, his friends and close supporters laughed and said get used to it!
Mohammed's short term vision for Azura is to provide training not only to their staff, but to the local community as well…especially the coffee addicts -not only those who want to open their coffee shops in Muscat, but also folks like me and you who are addicted to coffee and simply want to brew their own at home.
In the next 3 years, Mohammed went to create a community that combines the lovers of coffee in all its aspects from coffee addicts to coffee franchise owners to come together and form a coffee society where everyone shares their interest and knowledge of coffee and learn from each other, even creating some coffee competitions. Mohammed emphasises that competition is healthy and will help Azura and the rest of the coffee houses raise the bar. We agree with that and look forward to Mohammed's vision to build an Omani brand where it can open and compete in the GCC with other known brands, even the world! maybe even entering the World barista competition one day.
Mohammed's advice to young entrepreneurs and locals who want to set up their business, is to keep researching. Don't rush to set up a business. Do your maths first. Plug the numbers in excel, study the market, and do your budget because it will not be easy. But one thing to always remember is that the time, the money, the sleepless nights will not be easy.
We thank Azura for being one of the first initiatives to transform the coffee culture of Muscat. To aim for the best, and not to go for the easy routes or shortcuts, even if it is only a cup of coffee, we believe that they are doing it right in their execution, specialty and wish the owner Mohammed and the team at Azura all the best.