We weren’t sure what to expect from The Bee Cafe, the first business in Abu Dhabi to employ an entire team of people of determination. With no website or social media handles and located within the Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination, this progressive coffee shop got lots of press when it launched and already seemed like it could be a cool hidden gem.
The location and vibe
It’s refreshing to walk into this cafe, perhaps just because it provides a way to see people of determination discovering their place in the workforce and becoming more active members of society, exactly as the government said they would.
When we walk into the cafe, we are instantly welcomed by the team, all young men of determination. Salem, who is working at the counter alongside all his colleagues, gives me the warmest welcome with a handshake and proceeds to introduce the team. It almost felt like we’ve been friends for many years.
The interior is cozy yet relaxed. There are beehive motifs throughout and an image of the renowned ghaf tree, which serves to reinforce the country’s overarching theme of tolerance. The space has clearly been designed with adjustments for people of different abilities, including a wheelchair accessible counter.
While the size of the cafe is modest, seating can accommodate small to large groups. There’s also a communal table for co-working.
During our visit, many of the tables are occupied by a family who were having a friendly chat with the manager and appeared to be regulars. As one gentleman orders a coffee, he tells a joke to Salem in sign language and they both share a laugh and a high five.The already positive and communal vibe soars further.
The team do a great job at making us feel at home while delivering prompt service. We received our coffees within five minutes, an acceptable wait time, even that the cafe was busy and the staff are still in the soft opening phase. Bring cash though: on our visit there were no credit card machines.
The coffee menu is straightforward with eight of the most obvious options, including a Flat White, Macchiato and the UAE’s beloved Spanish Latte. All are reasonably priced ranging from Dh10 to Dh20. The Bee Cafe uses natural Ethiopian coffee beans from IDMI Coffee Roasting Co, harvested at an altitude of 1850-1880 meters above sea level (explaining the sweet cherry notes of the espresso). Although there are plans to expand the menu, the only snacks available during our visit are vegan cookies made by Alia al Zaabi, a gymnast with Down’s Syndrome. They cost Dh1 each
The bottom line
Overall, the cafe impressed us not only with its stylish and homely interiors, thoughtful design elements and delicious coffee, but with its overall sense of integrity. It truly lives up to the Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination’s Be The Change Campaign, aiming to increase employment for people of determination nationally and internationally.
- The Bee Cafe is open Sunday to Thursday from 8am to 1pm. It is located at the Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination, which is near Al Mafraq Hospital. For more information call 050 833 4655.
Issa handles multimedia at livehealthy.ae and got involved in fitness and healthy living after graduating high school. The sedentary lifestyle and junk food diet of his teen years had taken a toll on his wellbeing. Now, he makes sure to put his health first. Issa earned his bachelor’s in marketing and has since found his passion in media and arts.