Wednesday, March 29, 2023 | Ramadan 6, 1444 H
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Coffee hunting in Oman's old villages

Coffee is life If you subscribe to this mantra then this article is definitely for you as we are introducing you not just on a historical drive around Oman but also on a coffee hunting adventure with a purpose.

If there's one trend sweeping the nation today, it's definitely the coffee trend. Coffee joints are popping up everywhere from next to your favourite roadside petrol station, to your favourite mall even in remote villages far deep into the mountain or progressive coastal villages.

In Muscat, some of the hangout hot spots have four or five coffee shops to choose from and we are not talking about the 200 baisa coffee joints but the themed ones some with big branding and a big social media to boot.

For this coffee hunting adventure, we are recommending five different locations all within a 2-hour drive from the capital. These coffee shops are also located in historic spots so you will not only be going for coffee but also learning something about the place and discovering Oman's beautiful villages.

The Coffee Shop of Bait Al Sabah

To get here, you would have to take the long road to enjoy the full experience. Drive through lush gardens under the shade of towering date palms. Pass through the only Roman-inspired aqueduct where the waters from Falaj Al Khatmain flow. Enter the old village of Birkat Al Mouz and drive through a narrow road to reach the entrance of Bait Al Sabah. From here, climb through the renovated steps of the house by the gate towards the first floor. Here you will find the Bait Al Sabah coffee shop ready to serve you their interesting selection of hot, frappe and artisanal coffee. After getting your order, you can either roam around or head to the second floor where you will have a good view of the surrounding village and the tower ruins in the distance. This can serve as your starting point for a 15-minute hike to the tower that overlooks the village. Talk to a villager to gain more knowledge about the place. Otherwise, start your own research. The key takeaway is that Birkat Al Mouz is also known as the city-state of seven towers. To spot those towers from the top is a great way to pass your time.

Kawa Kava at the foot of Al Jabal Al Akhdhar

The name origin remains a mystery to us but it's definitely a good conversation starter with the owner.

Kawa Kava is located at the foot of Al Jabal Al Akhdhar just across the old mosque that has become an iconic pitstop for exploring Birkat Al Mouz. Unlike Bait Al Sabah, Kawa Kava is chicer and has expanded to include a wide sitting area inside. This is often a good stopover for those going to Al Jabal Al Akhdhar. They offer artisanal coffee but other than the typical frappe, hot and black coffee, they also offer some nice cookies and interesting desserts. They also have a few books available on the property for those wanting to catch up on some reading while passing time as others take a much-needed loo break. We love how this coffee joint used some wood elements in its decors.

Anat Cafe by Nizwa's Old Village

Their production area is a small room carved out on the wall but whatever is missing, they make for an amazing space on top of the wall. There are multiple sitting areas to choose from. You can either sit on chairs scattered along the side of the alley or in the main coffee room that overlooks the long walkway on top of the wall. The walkway is a good two-minute walk from end to end and one side is a good view of a heritage inn with its date palms-dominated garden while the other is the sprawling old city where some of the houses are still in shambles. There are also seats available on the balcony by the wall and from the looks of it, the owners are expanding and we may soon see an even bigger coffee production area. They have about 20-selection of speciality coffee and a limited amount of sweets. If you're coming here on a weekend, be ready for some queue as this place has become popular and may soon become a tourist trap because of its historical and Instagram-worthy sections.

Kadm of Bahla souq

Similarly, the coffee production area and the place where you order your coffee are quite small. But once you finish your order and be patient, you will be ushered into some of the most interesting majlis in this part of Bahla. Kadm boasts 6 different themed rooms that you can choose from. If you're in the mood for Arabic, Greek, or Artsy room, you may have to book it in advance but get over the small main coffee area and you will have an amazing experience walking around the souq. Located opposite the historic Bahla Fort, Kadm offers around 15 artisanal coffees and a few sweets to go with it. I will recommend taking your coffee to go as there are quite a lot of things to see if you visit when the souq is open. Check out the old trees scattered across the souq. Talk to a local and you can inquire about their fascinating stories. Visit a small antique shop cum museum just a few steps away from Kadm. You won't find a more informative place to spend an afternoon than by this coffee joint in Bahla.

Halwa Coffee of Misfat Al Abriyeen

It's hard to miss Halwa Coffee. After taking the scenic drive to Misfat Al Abriyeen, once you are at the parking area and you look up, then you'll definitely know where to go. It is the highest point in this beautiful, old village. But you have to prepare for 50 or so steps to get to the top. Halwa Coffee is located at the very top of Hissen Al Misfah or the castle of Al Misfah offering a sweeping view of this Unesco-awarded village. They have an amazing selection of coffees but their bestseller is the halwa coffee where you would have to ask the barista how it came to be. After several visits here, we realised we love having their traditional Omani coffee. Word of caution, this place can be packed even on regular days so parking spaces can be difficult to find. If you're going on a weekend, be ready for a long queue but what we love about this place is that watching the sunset from here is one of the best experiences you can have in Oman.

Rogan Cafe at the gardens of Misfat

Just a stone's throw away from Hissen Al Misfah is Rogan Cage — a chic coffee shop that mixes the old with the new located right at the edge of Misfat Al Abriyeen's garden. There are many things that we find impressive about this coffee shop. Yes, typical of these old village cafes, it also has a very small and compact production area but there are several levels to choose from for your seat all facing the garden or the houses of the old village. They have about 20 artisanal coffees to choose from and for us, the true experience is visiting before it rains as the location is perfect for a hot cup of coffee while the rain is hammering outside and the gardens. Both Halwa and Rogan Cafe offer easy access to the renovated old village. From these coffee shops, you can walk around and see the old pit where the village used to cook their shuwa. There are also a few heritage inns you can choose from to stay for the night. My recommendation, if you're visiting Misfat Al Abriyeen, have your drink to go and bring it along as you take a hike along one of Oman's most scenic and green hiking alleys.

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