Let’s start with a little onomatopoeic exercise. Say the word DRVN out loud. Start with a soft, sultry D, let the R shake and the V tremble over your lips, give the N time for a nice sweet taste. And the whole thing with a little boom, please. How does that sound? Mainly: Reminiscent of the incomparably powerful sound of a Porsche. So energy and effort, driven by passion.
“There can only be one name,” says Rashed Al Fahim, founder of DRVN – Dubai’s unique combination of coffee shop, car gallery and concept store. In the fall of 2021, a 31-year-old businessman from Abu Dhabi opened a coffee house on Bluewaters Island. The off-shore attraction of Dubai Marina is one kilometer away from the world’s largest observation wheel, the Dubai Eye. The Zuffenhausen-based sports car manufacturer quickly took notice and entered into a partnership with Al Fahim – the restaurant is now nicknamed “by Porsche”.
And inside you can see why. Classic Porsche models are displayed in glass cases between the break corners and the filter machines. Within a few weeks, DRVN and Porsche developed into a destination for tourists and expats. On a good day, up to 800 people are visitors.
Passionate about cars and coffee
They come because it is a very special place. “I wanted to create a place where I could combine my passion for interesting cars with interesting coffee,” explains Al Fahim. He stands smiling in his dark industrial-style gallery in front of a large display in which a cream-colored Porsche 356 from 1956 is on display. One of the three Porsche icons that can always be loved in changing actors on the show. “Life is short,” says Al Fahim. “If you have any passion, you must pursue it.”
His love for special cars was inherited from him. Al Fahim’s father is a keen collector of classic cars, with a collection of over 100 pieces in Abu Dhabi, just an hour’s drive away. Rashed Al Fahim owns two Porsche 911 GT2 RS (Type 997 and 991). A 911 (type 964) from 1990 is being restored to him. “For me, the brand is a unique combination of perfection, tradition and power,” he says.
Coffee is Al Fahim’s number two passion. Not by chance either: “It’s been part of our hospitality for centuries,” he says. After all, the word itself comes from the Arabic “Gahwa”. This drink is so important to local culture that the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman and Qatar inscribed Arabic coffee on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2015. In these same countries , coffee culture is celebrated differently than in the West. In many places, the picked green beans are still roasted by hand in a pot or drum. It is then ground and brewed in a dallah, a coffee pot. The ceremony of serving also follows clear rules: the host always holds the pan in his left hand and hands over the cup, finjan, which is only the third full, in his right hand. The most important or elderly guest is served first. Dates or other sweets are offered as accompaniments.
The smell of fresh coffee beans is also one of Rashed Al Fahim’s childhood memories. Her grandmother roasted hand-picked green beans over the fire herself. “When you enter a house here, the first thing they always give you is coffee. Even in the evening,” says Rashed. He still likes this local twist on coffee, which is often flavored with cardamom. “It tastes different, but wonderful,” he says. However. , Al Fahim prefers other variants: in the morning a V60 filter coffee or a cup made with an AeroPress, after lunch a flat white, i.e. a double espresso with a thin layer of milk foam.
A personal study of coffee culture
“I’m a real coffee diva,” she says. It turns out, one must add. Because when he was still studying in Boston, USA, Al Fahim was satisfied with the drink of the coffee shop chain in a paper cup. Until one morning a classmate took him to a small cafe that served the best Arabic espresso. “Give up sugar, then you’ll taste better,” the friend advised. Al Fahim sipped – and discovered unfamiliar aromas: nuances of nuts and chocolate, no bitterness or acidity. It was an important moment. As a result, from now on, Al Fahim devoted himself wholeheartedly to the personal study of coffee culture. He bought a filter machine, tried the beans and grinded and became a real expert.
Returning home, Al Fahim met coffee connoisseur Dmitriy Griekhov, who had a cafe in Dubai and had already won prizes in many barista championships. Meanwhile, Al Fahim had received pilot training at the national airline Emirates and now made a habit of calling Griekhov before every flight. “I couldn’t walk into the cockpit without having an espresso with him first,” he says. “Because I knew that once I got some air, the coffee would taste bad in comparison.”
Today your two business partners are DRVN and Porsche. Initially they stood alone with their idea to found a place for Cars, Coffee and Culture. “Keep flying,” Al Fahim’s father suggested. “How do you want to fill such a big room with your personal desires?” Many friends also advised against it. They ignored the fact that daring is often motivated by passion – regardless of whether it is the invention of the electric wheel hub (late 19th century by Ferdinand Porsche) or an unusual cultural concept. So Al Fahim left his flying career to pursue his passion for coffee and DRVN. “We just want the best of everything,” he says, summing up his standards of excellence.
In a city like Dubai, which always feels highly committed (and even has its own coffee museum), this belief is obvious. And of course it also goes with Porsche. The collaboration with the sports car manufacturer gave the founder a number of classics, which were brought to Dubai from the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart as part of the “Icons of Porsche” festival, which took place for the first time in 2021 – together with the Porsche 356 “No. 1 Roadster” from 1948, Porsche 935/78 “Moby Dick” and 911 S 2.2 Targa from 1970.
Arabica coffee from the highlands
In a glass room behind the counter, Dmitriy Griekhov stands at a state-of-the-art roaster and loads green beans into its hopper to begin the roasting process. Every few minutes he checks the level of burning, which he has determined specifically for each type. “The trick is to roast the beans to their core without letting them get too dark,” he explains. A few seconds too little or too little can ruin the scent.
DRVN by Porsche roasts Arabica coffee exclusively from the highlands. You won’t find the non-exclusive Robusta beans that most large coffee shop chains work with here. Al Fahim sources its raw materials exclusively from fair trade farms around the world: in Ethiopia, Uganda, Brazil and many more countries. The most expensive bean, called Ruby, costs $800 per kilo. Some customers buy them to take home, and along with the necessary change, they usually bring valuable coffee knowledge with them. Because that’s what Al Fahim is. “You can’t teach enthusiasm,” he says, “but you can encourage people to open up to new experiences.”
Text first published in Christophorus Magazin, issue 404.
Author: Barbara Esser
Photo: Resonate Media House
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