Ezdan Hotel Tower 2, West Bay, Doha
The flat white: 8. My first flat white at Empire was a 10, but largely because I’d had such a foul night in an Ezdan “standard” room. After joyously checking out of that hotel for a proper hotel room with non-Arctic air conditioning (whether switched on or off), the coffee at Empire, within the Ezdan lobby, was good enough to draw me back into the hotel numerous times. An unusual commendation but a flat white so good as to outweigh the dreadful memory of a shockingly awful 1* room in a 4* hotel. Only not a 9 because I’ve had coffees I prefer.
Appropriateness of being called a flat white: 9. Every flat white I had there was consistently good, the baristas knew their coffee, the cups were a good size and colour (though I liked their lesser-used pottery tumbler style cups more than the traditional cups and saucers) and it tasted great. Sometimes, unfortunately not every time, as an added bonus, I was also given a glass of sparkling water. I have never had sparkling water as a free accompaniment. I shall be requesting it free forthwith.
Latte art: 9. Something different most days, including one possible dodo.
The beans: The aforementioned first coffee there was when I had the beans explained to me, but I was so happy to have a coffee about to be made after a largely cold and sleepless night, still feeling cold and grumpy, that I wrote nothing down, just hoping desperately the barista’s knowledge of coffee matched his coffee making skills. “Beans were good” is a mere 1 on the scale of usefulness, but they were good, wherever it was they were from that day or whatever tasting notes I was given.
Other coffees of interest: They have an illustrated menu, which I rather liked, particularly the spelling of cappuccino.
“A little something to go with my coffee”: 6. There was very little on display and nothing inspired me to peer, point or query. 6 may be unfair, but it’s quite unusual for me not to at least longingly look at cakes and pastries.
Other customers: Hard to tell as the café is a glorified stall within a hotel reception. Most people seemed to take away and most seemed to be locals. Not even a hint of a hipster.
Staff: 8. I met a few over the weeks I was in the area, one young man being particularly friendly and welcoming. All are evidently proper baristas providing a professional service.
Décor: 4. I reiterate, it’s a kind of stall in a white hotel reception. Empire branded “décor” had limited opportunity to shine through. They do have Empire Coffee Roaster, not massively far away, which I suspect is more of a flagship cafe.
Ambiance: 3. As above, but what would you expect from a very small concession within a hotel. If there are no seats in the small reception area, there is no obvious plan B for drinking-in.
Toilets: Maybe a plus to being in a hotel, you’d think there would be toilets but as that block is residences rather than strictly a hotel, I have failed again in that I don’t know if there were toilets. However, the 2nd floor has spas and shops and a restaurant so maybe there would be loos there.
WiFi: An Empire network comes up but I was told “only the manager knows the code”. I suspect this means there is no freely available WiFi. As I had been a guest in the hotel, I had good quality hotel WiFi, but that’s unlikely to be a useful observation.
Cash or card: My UK contactless card worked fine, so cash or card ok.
Unique selling point: First, and so far only, proper flat white in Doha (but maybe I’ve missed somewhere else).
What to do in a one-minute radius: Ice cream at Baskin Robbins, a few eateries outside on the ground floor of the hotel tower, an ATM and a small convenience store. Not an inspiring location, in part due to construction opposite. Also, beware the parking barriers if you walk under a raised one without having seen it.
(Review by Bagpuss at Flat White & Black Coffee Reviews)
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Score scale out of 10
0 = “Excuse me, I ordered a coffee … oh, really, this is a coffee?”;
1 = too revolting to even swallow the first sip;
2-4 = amount of sips endured before having to abandon on grounds of offensive taste;
5 = bearable if you haven’t had a coffee in a week and need an emergency boost;
6-7 = acceptable but not a destination coffee;
8 = a proper flat white and a destination coffee;
9 = the coffee, the taste, the look, the cup – almost as good as it gets;
10 = the holy grail of flat whites has been discovered.