Second Cup - it's on a street somewhere.

My new coffee side-kick sent me a text the day prior to our coffee-based review that read, among other things:

“When are we starting the coffee project?” along with information about what her cat was doing in an effort to clean it’s nether regions.

“Tomorrow? Pick up at 11am” I replied, choosing to ignore and therefore not encourage any more text conversation regarding feline ablution techniques.

“Perfect, I’ll see you then”

I rolled into the car-park of the compound where she and her husband live, and marvelled at the ability some people seem to have that enables them to park in a manner, so inefficient, that one small car can effectively render 3 car parking spaces useless… and that’s just  in a relatively quiet compound.

A quiet compound that would seem heavenly in about 22 minutes time.

I get that parking here in the capital can at times be horrific. Primarily due to problematic town planning, but also caused by a road and residence system that works on the theory of getting EVERYONE to one place quickly, but then not offering any solution as to where to park once they are there.

Our own little slice of heaven (the one that we will be moving out of in a matter of days now) is on the eighth floor of a twelve floor building.

When we arrived to first view the place, the estate agent was more than eager to show us the place on a Friday. Unusual, as Fridays are generally accepted as a no work day.

We arrived at the scheduled meeting space, birds sang, friendly street cats made way and waved us toward one of many car spaces available at the front entrance of the building. Cherubs gently blowing any debris from the car spot with a deft but gentle flap of their wings…

We were ushered into the foyer, had a look at the apartment, then looked at each other and said “Yes, this is the place for us”. Mrs Ad-ist though did add, with no heed for Universe-will-bite-you consequences: “It’s really quiet, and the parking is fantastic”

I could hear the cherubs packing up their things, while herding the pleasant looking street cats onto buses as a fresh bus of diseased, flea ridden, mostly four legged felines arrived to take over the shift.

My wife, sensing my distress said: “I mean, it might get a little busy, but there’s still lots of space, and they can’t start building on all that vacant land around here”

Me: “…….”
Her: “Really, I don’t see what could go wrong”
Me: “Honey…”
Her: “Yes?”
Me: “Please stop talking”

As I type this post, almost 12 months to the day from that conversation, I am enjoying the gentle vibration that periodically thrums through the entire building. Sometimes extending to a more intense feeling, that can also be seen rippling in a handily poured glass of water.

I guess it’s probably coming from the building that started on ALL THE VACANT LAND around here 11 months ago. Building that in turn seconded 40% of the parking, which meant the 150 or so cars that had just enough space to park before now all fight over the remaining 70 places.

Made worse by the widely used practice of some folk who park in a manner that suggests that, because they have an awesome Camry, with black windows and cheap aftermarket wheels,and a 'Turbo' sticker, THEY should be able to take up 2 parks. This unusual technique ensures that they can protect their car, but I also allows lots of space around it so that we, the viewing public, can easily admire such tactless cosmetic upgrades from all sides.

Aaaanyway - back to the review - wouldn’t be an Abudhabilist post without a sidetrack now, would it?

I sent a text to Kim, and she arrived presently, bopping along to whatever music was currently playing in her head.

After she got into the car and we had swapped greetings I asked her to pick one of the two coffee shops I had decided on as potentials for trying out that day.  Citing that we regularly go to one of the others on the list, two more were off the island and therefore a little more time committed, and the two that I had chosen were nearby…so she should  pick.

One of them was in a nearby shopping centre, the other we could only guess at as Abu Dhabi week had simply listed it in “The vicinity of 6th/Najda Street”, a street that runs for through the most densely trafficked 5 blocks of Abu Dhabi and has, for it’s entire length, some of the worst parking issues on this little island.

“I don’t know, you pick” she said.
“I did, I picked these two, now you have to pick one of them, one is in AL Wahda mall…”
“The other one then” she said with what appeared to be a certainty that came from internal coin toss.

We made our way. Slowly. To 6th street.

Abu Dhabi week is a pretty good read - so I don’t want for one second to be thought of as bullying a small and feeble child.

But seriously - Abu Dhabi Week, if you are reading this, for the love of everything that’s good can you please do something about your fear of offering reasonable directions.

The directions offered for Second Cup were rubbish. If a tourist or brand new resident was desperate for a cup of coffee that wasn’t made with coffee mate and stirred with a bricklayer’s pencil, and that tourist happened upon the AD Week information about Second Cup while standing near the Corniche, AND even if they were lucky enough to be near the intersection of 6th and the Corniche, then that tourist if ever they find the place, will hate wherever they got such lame information from.

HATE it. Furthermore they will be likely to immediately discount whatever it is that you are mentioning in future publications.

Why not be  just a little more specific? Not a lot. Just a little. Maybe a land mark could have been mentioned, or a narrowing of the street length to within 2 intersections.

Here’s a suggestion - “6th/Najda between 9th and 7th” This, ADWeek-ers, still enables you to be inexplicably obtuse, but at least puts people within shouting distance of the place you are putting up as a coffee joint of choice…

Just a thought - it’s not the first coffee list  that has had spurious directions, it took 2 goes and severe dehydration in the last coffee project to find Zyara.

We made it onto 6th, and I interrupted Kim to remind here that we didn’t actually know where exactly this place was so we needed to keep an eye out for it.

“Sure” said Kim. Then went back to her original topic that revolved around me not making fun of her on the blog.

“I don’t  make fun of people on the blog”
“So you aren’t going to make fun of me then?” she asked.
“I didn’t say that”

“Humph” she said then staring at the traffic at a stand still ahead of us continued “Lets go to the other one, this traffic is awful”

It would have been easy to turn around if that request had been made BEFORE we ended up in bumper-to-bumper-nowhere-to-turn-around traffic.

On my explanation of this no-turning back situation, Kim replied that the traffic was awful and kind of intimated that it was, at least, mostly my fault.

I mentioned something about her acting little a princess like, which wasn’t received very well.

“Instead of yelling at me perhaps you could have noticed that we are about to pass Second Cup, which is on YOUR side of the road” I said pointing over her shoulder at our coffee grail of the day.

“You’re going to put that in the blog too aren’t you?” she said.
“Yup.”I replied.

Sullen pouting ensued.

We pulled into a side street close to the shop, and found ourselves absorbed into the parking vortex that is this area of 6th street. I had visions of my cherubs  leaning against the corner of a building, playing dice and filing their nails, giving no care whatsoever to our parking predicament.

Even with all this stacked against us, in pretty short order we found a space. Well, we found a space  AFTER someone tried, actually tried, not to look in the direction that they were driving, while leaving a section of the carpark to turn the wrong way up a one way street. Screams from both of us along with some heavy acceleration left us unscathed, and a little bewildered. Perhaps the parking cherubs witnessed it and pulled a few strings. For old time’s sake. 

A park had materialised not more than 50 metres from Second Cup.

It would be fair to say that, judging by the last coffee project, it would be easy to label me as hyper-critical when it comes to coffee here in the desert. So it was with some surprise that our first impressions of Second Cup were really positive.

The ground floor is cosy … tiny to be exact, but works supremely well as a take-away coffee bar. There’s no seating to get in the way of office workers who just want to get in - get coffee - get out. The seating area is upstairs, and it too is cosy, but really appealing with a view over the street and comfy enough chairs.

We ordered downstairs, and as happens whenever I review with a sidekick, food got ordered. We were then told to go up to the seating area and that our order would follow shortly.

We selected a seat in the corner flanked by glass windows, which offered an excellent view of the industrial water pump shop across the road.

I suggested that we could go and get a new dam pump on our way back to the car if Kim so required. Kim looked at me like I was, in fact, an idiot (which I often am) and proceeded to talk about something else. Try as I might I couldn’t steer the conversation back to that of water pumps… Kim deftly flicked such moronic deviations aside while we waited for our stuff…

…which arrived in no time.

More surprises.

The coffee was okay, not awe inspiring, but okay in a “this would be better if I had asked for a double shot of espresso” kind of way.

Kim had ordered some ridiculous “Gingerbread man latte” which she affirmed was quite good if somewhat thin on coffee flavour.

“Might be the ginger bread bit” I said, smugly.

She ignored my barb and we got back to conversation.

Coffee and sandwich done, we left and trotted back to the car, Kim deciding to take the lead with respect to directions that would lead us, not just out of the carpark, but would also place us in the optimum  route out of the district, thereby shortening our travel time, and covering her in adulation for being a super-cool navigator.

One dead end and 2 parking lot snarls later, we were heading the wrong way past the very spot we had departed from 10 minutes prior.

The parking Cherubs were at this point probably rolling in unbridled mirth.

One down and 4 to go… Thus far I am less fearful of the coffee I might be served over the next few weeks. Kim has also expressed an interest in naming our current favourite coffee shop, and putting together a list of what we feel to be the better cups around.

If the coffee is going to be reasonable all around, I am going to have to think of other ways of generating something interesting…

…I think I’ll instigate a “we have to get there by bus” rule.

Kim will hate that.

Kim's new blog can be found at


  1. New sidekick???! Wow, it really hurts to be replaced, although I reckon Kim is an acceptable replacement.

    BTW I know EXACTLY where Second Cup is ;)

    Btw, you've messed up the link to Kims blog :)

    Well that's all from me. Hope it doesn't take a year for the next one, they are just too much fun to read.

  2. Hello from across the pond!

    Yes...she is a great replacement, and remember, you abandoned me! NOT the other way around.

    Couldn't just sit around and wait for you to grace us with your presence now could I?

    You do NOT know where Second Cup is... for those reading along, Line has issues with truths, for a prime example please go look at the post "Zyara - this time with added Line" and make your own minds up as to her... propensity to... well.. not tell the truth.

    (thanks for the heads up on the link - have fixed it)

    Not long until the next one.

  3. Drew, I'll have you know that I have been on an Abu Dhabi bus before. Once. I asked the driver if he went near Airport Road, to which he replied yes.

    Ok it wasn't a convincing yes, and I should have known better. Anyway, 20 minutes later I had been driven in the opposite direction, round some Al Bateen backwaters and ended up further from Airport Road than when I started. I gave up, got off and took a cab.

    I say, bring on the bus route challenge. You'll hate it just as much as I will. But it'll make a good post.

  4. Blog-fans... the bus challenge has been accepted!

    (I like the bus)

  5. Holly18:29

    Drew, I am disappointed... you're Australian, you drive a 4WD. Is there no way that people who feel the need to take up more than one park can be reminded that this is not the 'done thing' by some gentle touch parking to redistribute their car to their own space??

  6. Hey there Drew, great to see another post up so quick! The bus option sounds like a challenge, but hopefully might make for some colourful description.

    Like the *sick as* camry you mentioned.

    Also, could I put in a request for more description of textures and smells in the next blog post?

  7. Holly:
    Ahhhh... Braille parking. I'd forgotten about that. No, wouldn't work as well as it does back home. There's not enough space to get a run up, unfortunately. So there would be alot of tapping, rather than ol' fashioned shunting.

    In the time it took to finish 'schooling' the miscreant, I could find a fresh park of my own.

    What I might start doing is to take a 'name n' shame' photograph and post the evidence of their inability to either park or have consideration for anything but their hardware-store-modified-car.

    In fact if anyone wants to send in photo's of particularly poor/belligerent parking practices, feel free to email them to

    I am aware that it bothers me more than most, so I am not expecting to be inundated...

    The bus is ace. I used the buses all the time when we first moved here. You can get anywhere on the island (and many spots off it as well) for peanuts...

    ...roasted peanuts, their just cracked aroma leaking from parted shell. Serrated edge dents soft skin, thumb nail bends in it's prising. Tiny membrane frays, then gives way before the small gourd releases it's twin bounty. Small and sweet! But alas a weevil is here, soured little treasure. Cautiously I will try again.



    More smells and textures.

    Got it.

  8. So peanuts for the peanut gallery? Now thats more like it! :) Mmmm toasted nuts...


Andrew Webber is a writer, living in Abu Dhabi with his wife, two cats and two dogs.

His first book "Erasure" was published in June 2012 and was followed in 2013 by the Prequel to Erasure, "Broken".

In 2016 Erasure was a prize winner in the Montegrappa Writing Prize - part of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature.

For more information click the "Erasure" book cover on the left side of this site, or simply go to

Thanks for visiting.