Specialty Batch X The Espresso Lab Project

Few experiences rival the satisfaction of cultivating a unique coffee offering that resonates with discerning palates. Specialty Batch, embarked on a transformative journey in December 2014, a venture that would underscore its ethos and expertise. This case study delves into the development of the Espresso Lab, a bespoke coffee bar in Dubai within a prestigious wellness centre, spearheaded by the request of Mr Ibrahim Al Mallouhi, and showcases the comprehensive approach of Specialty Batch in creating unparalleled coffee experiences.

Two years into its operation, Specialty Batch had established itself as a beacon of excellence and a regional pioneer in the specialty coffee field. Renowned primarily for its role as educators and equipment suppliers, the company had already begun making inroads into the craft coffee supply side, partnering with early customers like Ratios Coffee &  Cafe Rider to elevate the coffee experience. It was during a routine coffee quality control visit to Cafe Rider that Ibrahim Al Mallouhi approached Specialty Batch with a proposal for an ‘Espresso Lab’ that would test the full spectrum of its capabilities.



Al Mallouhi envisioned an exquisite coffee bar within a Wellness Centre in Jumeirah 1 that would not merely serve coffee but embody the principles of specialty coffee and community. Specialty Batch was tasked with a comprehensive project scope:

  • Equipment Procurement:Securing high-quality coffee brewing equipment, serving equipment and water treatment systems within a predefined budget.
  • Menu Development:Crafting a concise single origin coffee menu that aligned with the founder’s ethos.
  • Recruitment:Assembling a team of skilled baristas who shared the vision for excellence and customer service.
  • Bean Selection and Roasting:Identifying and sourcing exclusive beans that met Specialty Batch's stringent quality standards, followed by expert roasting.
  • Ongoing Staff Training:Ensuring the team remained at the forefront of coffee innovation and service excellence through continuous training.
  • Equipment Servicing and Maintenance:Implementing a robust plan for regular servicing and maintenance of all coffee equipment to ensure optimal performance and longevity.
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    Tailoring Excellence in Equipment and Expertise

    The meticulous approach adopted by Specialty Batch for The Espresso Lab project was comprehensive, ensuring every detail was aligned with the vision. A pivotal aspect of this approach was the selection and procurement of top-tier coffee equipment within the set budget, a task that demanded both expertise and a deep understanding of the operational needs of this coffee bar.

    Primary Set up

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    Synesso Hydra: A 2-group machine renowned for its precision, allowing baristas to meticulously control espresso brewing.

    Anfim Super Caimano On-demand Grinders: Two units chosen for their consistency and durability, ensuring perfect espresso grind.

    Mahlkonig EK 43: Selected for its versatility, enabling a broad range of brewing methods to cater to diverse customer preferences.

    Custom-Configured Water System: Supplied in consideration of the municipal water quality at the coffee bar location, strategically adjusted to meet the exact requirements for optimal coffee taste and equipment performance.

    In addition to these cornerstone pieces of equipment, all necessary server ware and brewing accessories were provided, ensuring that the bar was fully equipped to deliver an exceptional coffee experience from the outset.

    Timeline and Execution

    The initial conversation with Ibrahim Al Mallouhi commenced in late 2014, setting the wheels in motion for what would become a hallmark project. Through diligent planning, negotiation, and execution, all equipment and staff requirements were concluded by April 2015. This efficiency and focus enabled Al Mallouhi to begin operations in May 2015, marking a swift and successful setup phase.

    A Global Perspective Amidst Local Excellence

    In the midst of orchestrating the Espresso Lab project, Specialty Batch’s owner, roaster, and coffee trainer, Ryan Godinho, was also engaged in a parallel endeavour that highlighted the company’s national coffee industry footprint on a global level. Ryan was accompanying the Cafe Rider Head Barista, Dmitriy Griekhov, who had clinched the UAE Barista Championship title and was set to represent the UAE at the World Barista Championship in Seattle.

    Dmitriy’s victory at the UAE championship was achieved with Ryan’s Ethiopia Suke Quto, a choice that underscored the quality and distinctiveness of Specialty Batch’s bean selection. For the world stage, Dmitriy opted for an expertly crafted Ninety Plus Perci, further showcasing the meticulous approach to coffee selection and preparation that Ryan and Specialty Batch are known for.

    Outcome and Continued Collaboration

    The successful inauguration and operation of The Espresso Lab marked the beginning of an enduring partnership between Specialty Batch and Ibrahim Al Mallouhi. The project’s success transcended initial expectations, creating a sanctuary for coffee lovers. Patrons of the Wellness Centre were not only treated to a health-conscious menu but also to a coffee experience that was both enriching and enlightening. The coffee bar, with its exceptional brews and informed staff, became a testament to the power of quality coffee in fostering community and wellness.

    Four Years of Sustained Excellence

    The preliminary collaboration between Specialty Batch and The Espresso Lab was a relationship that spanned over four years. During this period, Specialty Batch continued to supply the Espresso Lab with roasted coffee, ensuring the brand synonyminity with quality and craftsmanship. This supply was not just a transactional relationship but a partnership that was deeply rooted in mutual respect for quality, education, and the coffee craft.

    Beyond Supply: A Partnership of Support and Growth

    Specialty Batch’s role extended to comprehensive support services that were pivotal in maintaining the high standards set at The Espresso Lab’s inception. These services included technical support for coffee equipment, ensuring that every cup of coffee served was of the highest quality. The team at Specialty Batch, with their deep expertise in coffee and equipment, offered over-the-phone support and rapid response to emergency call-outs, embodying the company’s commitment to excellence and reliability.

    Transition to Self-Sufficiency: The Final Chapter

    The final year of Specialty Batch’s supply to The Espresso Lab marked a significant yet fruitful transition, characterised by the introduction of private labelling. This initiative was a testament to the Espresso Lab’s maturity and success, allowing it to offer a unique brand experience to its clientele. The culmination of this partnership was Ibrahim Al Mallouhi’s completion of his own self-sufficient roastery productions. This milestone was a reflection of the growth and independence of The Espresso Lab’s coffee offerings, supported and facilitated by the foundational work done by Specialty Batch.

    Legacy of the Partnership

    The four-year journey between Specialty Batch and The Espresso Lab’s coffee bar is a narrative of growth, quality, and enduring partnerships. It highlights Specialty Batch’s role not just as a supplier, but as a catalyst for excellence in the coffee industry. The transition to self-sufficiency for The Espresso Lab’s coffee offerings marks a new chapter for Ibrahim Al Mallouhi, one that is built on a solid foundation of quality, expertise, and the relentless pursuit of coffee excellence. This legacy, fostered by Specialty Batch, continues to inspire and shape the future of specialty coffee, underscoring the company’s pivotal role in elevating coffee experiences and fostering genuine connections within the community.


    This project underscored Specialty Batch’s holistic approach to coffee excellence, from bean to cup. It demonstrated the company’s ability to adapt its expertise to unique environments and visions, reinforcing its position as a leader in the specialty coffee industry. The Espresso Lab project remains a testament to Specialty Batch’s dedication to quality, education, and the fostering of genuine connections within the coffee community.



    The journey of Specialty Batch and the development of the Espresso Lab is more than a case study; it’s a narrative of passion, innovation, and community. It exemplifies how quality, when pursued relentlessly, transcends the product to become an experience, shared and cherished by all involved.

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