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Illustration by Alyazia Alremeithi

Blacksmith Enters Campus Caffeine Scene

On Nov. 8, Blacksmith Coffee Company announced that it would begin accepting Campus Dirhams. In just one week, over 300 students registered for gift cards.

Nov 25, 2018

Since its opening in May 2017, Blacksmith Coffee Company has become a popular nook for NYU Abu Dhabi students to hang out. As a specialty coffee roaster, Blacksmith has garnered customers for its carefully roasted and brewed coffee as well as its enjoyable atmosphere.
Katrina Duran, a barista at Blacksmith who has worked there since its opening, emphasized the quality of product at Blacksmith. “We are different from many other coffee franchises; Blacksmith is a specialty coffee shop, with coffee beans and blends from different places.”
According to Duran, despite its rather tucked-away location, the café has attracted customers from all over the city and even the UAE. “I think only around 30 percent are NYUAD students; the rest are people from outside who come to Saadiyat Island to visit Blacksmith. We even have customers from Al Ain and Fujairah visiting after hearing about us from social media.”
Recently, the café implemented a new policy heartily welcomed by the student community. On Nov. 8, Blacksmith Coffee Company announced the acceptance of NYUAD Campus Dirhams on its Instagram account. The word quickly spread among the students, stirring much excitement.
“The idea of allowing Campus Dirhams had been there from the start, but the proposal was not approved until now,” recalled Duran.
Duran believes that this would be an important move for Blacksmith that could also benefit students.
“The students had limited options with the [Campus Dirhams], like pizza from dining hall and library café, so we wanted to give more options for the students. The previous owner was a former student, so the conversation about allowing [Campus Dirhams] had always been there. There were a lot of conversations with school officials and [the] business owner, but I think it would benefit both sides, as well as giving more options for the students.”
The use of Campus Dirhams is not done by direct purchase with NYU ID; students have to register and create a Blacksmith Gift Card, which is then topped up with Campus Dirhams. Initial values of AED 50, AED 100, AED 150 and AED 200 are possible, with no limit on the total amount. Students can also choose from one-time or automatic top-up, which means that a designated amount will be automatically renewed every two weeks, when Campus Dirhams are added. These cards can be used for any food or beverage item at Blacksmith, as outlined in the Terms and Conditions of Campus Dirhams Gift Card on its website.
A number of students who had been loyal customers of Blacksmith expressed much joy at the new policy. Sherry Wu, Class of 2021, was one of them.
“I go there all the time to study, hang out and sometimes have group meetings there as well. It’s the only place on campus that is not entirely part of the university. So once the gift card was announced, I registered right away in the first week.”
She noted the overall vibe and dessert selection as reasons for her frequent visits. “Blacksmith has a really nice ambience, and I like the cakes there as well. I also like going off campus to the city to visit different cafés, but then you have to pay for [a] taxi as well. Blacksmith is right on campus, so it’s convenient.”
While the café has gained much popularity among NYUAD students, previously there were opinions that the prices were slightly high. Wu commented, “I like going to Blacksmith, but sometimes it felt a little too expensive — the matcha latte is almost AED 30, which is a lot of money on coffee.”
Blacksmith’s high prices explains student excitement when the news was announced.
“I think during the first week of starting the policy, we had over 300 registrations — so many students especially flocked on the first day, around 100. We were really busy with that over the past week,” commented Duran.
She added that the new policy prompted responses from not only current students, but graduates as well.
“In fact, former students who came by Blacksmith were really envious — they were saying that it’s a pity that the policy wasn’t there when they were at school.”
Soohyun Hwangbo is Deputy Features Editor. Email her at
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