By Rose Banguis-Ebuen
If there’s one undeniably sweeping trend affecting Oman right now, it’s the coffee culture that prompted the rise of nearly hundreds of coffee shops all over the capital.
Any theme that you can think of — whether floral, minimalist, high luxury, etc — Oman will not fail to deliver that even petrol stations are now a place to grab a cup or two.
But this trend is no longer confined within the invisible walls of Muscat. Here are six coffee shops located within two hours from the capital that is worth the long drive as they are located in historic sites or scenic destinations.
A glass enclosure on top of historic ruins
Al Sabah House Coffee Shop in Birkat al Mouz
Consider this as a must-stop before you head out to Jabal Akdhar. Located right at the foot of the Al Hajar Mountains, Birkat al Mouz has undergone a massive transformation in recent years. Yes, it is still home to one of the most beautiful old village ruins. Yes, it is still teeming with beautiful date palm gardens. Yes, one of the best Roman-inspired aqueducts can still be found here but it’s the renovations and little touches of upgrades that make us happy.
Today, at the entrance to Al Sibani Village, you will find the renovated Bait al Sabah (House of Sabah.) On the first floor of this renovated traditional Omani house is an all-glass enclosure where the kitchen area of the coffee shop is located. While there are plenty of seats on this floor, the second floor (or more of the rooftop) just opens to a mesmerizing view, a true gem of Birkat al Mouz. If you’re looking for a bit of history, a whole lot of nature, then this coffee shop is definitely worth an afternoon’s drive. Don’t miss the sunset.
An extraordinary hole in the wall
Anat Cafe in Nizwa
Built inside the oldest archaeological gate in Haret Al Aqr in Nizwa, this cafe is one of the coffee shops that no one can deny was smartly done. While the production area is small, cut out from the original room located in the old village, it’s the sitting area that will mesmerize you spanning not only the whole expanse of the Al Bustan Heritage Inn wall but also the balcony on top of the wall.
Anat is a great stop after enjoying a nice walk at the Nizwa Fort and the surrounding souq. There are three things we love about this place: the indoor dining decors that play well to its strength of being surrounded by history, the long balcony trail that overlooks a garden on one side and the old village on the other, and the street level seats that give you easy access to the kitchen.
More than a hundred-year-old history
Kadm Cafe in Bahla
Located opposite the Unesco World Heritage site Fort of Bahla, Kadm Cafe has taken an enormous section of the renovated old souq and that’s just the tip of the fun.
While the souq has become more organized thanks to the restoration efforts made nearly a decade ago, the owner of Kadm perfectly mixed modern with tradition and there’s no place in the whole of Oman that matches what Kadm offers.
What we love specifically about this cafe is that you have different themed areas you can choose to hang out in. For instance, they have a room called “Majlis” which showcases what an old Omani Majlis or Sablah looks like. It is decorated in such a way that it feels like you are inside one of the Omani traditional homes. The decorations are a mixture of old furniture, old musical instruments and an old television.
They have a Greek, Bohemian, Al Barza and Abstract majlis so you can come any day and end up picking a different theme.
Towering above trees and mountains
Halwa Coffee in Misfat al Abriyeen
Misfat Al Abriyeen has recently been named as one of the best traditional villages according to the United Nations and that accolade was built on many things.
Located on top of a castle, Halwa Coffee has put the view and the castle’s aesthetic into good use. Not only do they have a sweeping view of the whole village, but it is also the best spot for sunset watching. You can lounge by the majlis area beside a giant teddy bear or choose the higher end of the castle adorned with Arabian decors.
Now a weekend favourite amongst many families, the coffee house also offers some of the most unique coffee blends you can find in Oman. One of the must-tries here is the halwa-infused coffee. For us, aside from its 100% Omani brand coffee, its location is its main selling point. Visit here and be ready to be transported to nearly 300 years ago.
The natural bliss of gardens
Rogan Coffee Shop in Misfat al Abriyeen
There are several coffee shops in Misfat al Abriyeen but it will be a sin to skip Rogan Coffee. Located at the edge of the village with direct access to the nearby gardens, Rogan coffee house is a nature lover’s paradise.
You can order the coffee and take it to go that way you can roam around Misfat’s popular terraced gardens.
Or you can choose to dine in, proceed to the first floor to have a beautiful view of the towering palms just within your reach. Wait for nighttime and see how the soft, sepia lights transform the whole place into a romantic escape.
Other than its nature-abundant location, what we love about Rogan is how they perfectly married old and new, a sustainable infusion and blend of historic and modern architecture.
Coffee break by the hot spring
Keytha Cafe in Ain Thowarah, Nakhal
Keytha Cafe was an accidental discovery located about an hour and a half from Muscat. This coffee house sits right next to the Ain Thowarah or the hot spring of Thowarah. Aside from the big window with a view of date palm gardens, what makes this coffee house worth the visit are the numerous photographs that showcase the best scenes of the area acting more as a photo exhibition centre vis a vis a place for a hot drink. The outdoor sitting area allows you to witness the usually busy hot spring as people frolic in the wadi’s water. The interior is well-lit with the production area located right at the centre of the shop. Definitely, a perfect escape during the winter when you’re looking for a scenic drive and want to end the adventure by dipping your feet in the hot spring. We can’t think of a better way to relax than that.