A Definitive (But Non-Exhaustive) Ranking of Cafes Near CIEE

Authored by:
Megan N.

Megan N.

Amman has an abundance of cafes. On nearly every street corner you can find a cafe, but whether it satisfies what you are looking for in a cafe is left undetermined. I tend to spend time in cafes to study, write, or just take advantage of free wifi. So, cafes that are quiet, have comfortable chairs, and free wifi are definitely a plus. However, it is socially inappropriate to spend time in a cafe without buying anything, so price and the quality of the drinks are important as well. Disclaimer: I don’t actually drink coffee, so I can’t actually speak to the quality of the coffee at any of these locations - sorry! 

I’m going to focus this list on the cafes near the CIEE Study Center, within a 5-10 minute walk, with a few honorable mentions that are further away.

Rankings Explained

  • Price: 5 stars = very cheap
  • Ambiance: based on music selections, comfort of seating, general volume level, smoking allowed (I don’t smoke, so non-smoking cafes get higher rankings), overall appearance
  • Drinks: I don’t actually drink coffee, so I tend to order tea or chai lattes, occasionally hot chocolate. Assessment of drinks is largely based on selection variety and quality. 


Coffee Talk

  • Price: *****
  • Ambiance: ***
  • Drinks: ***
  • Wifi: No
  • Coffee Talk holds a special place in my heart. The first few days I was in Amman, I found Coffee Talk, and the two men working there were incredibly nice, often giving my friend and I free food with our drinks while we studied there. Bashir and Mohannad are very friendly, and I highly recommend going to Coffee Talk if for no other reason than to befriend them. They are part of the reason for the 3 star ambiance rating, which would be lower without them. It’s a nice cafe, well lit, but… they have a tendency to play an instrumental rendition of My Heart Will Go On on repeat. Not once or twice repeated, but for hours. My friend and I timed it once, and we managed to stay for two hours of My Heart Will Go On before we just left. Other times we have heard John Legend and Fairuz, so there’s really no telling what music you are going to get. They don’t have comfy chairs. But a tea is 1 JD - they don’t have a huge selection, but that is the cheapest tea I’ve found in Amman. If you’re looking for a cheap, nice hangout spot close to CIEE, Coffee Talk is a good place to go. Just bring headphones.

Gloria Jean’s Coffees

  • Price: ***
  • Ambiance: ***
  • Drinks: ***
  • Wifi: Yes
  • I’m not a huge fan of Gloria Jean’s. It’s in the same building as CIEE, so the convenience factor is good, but the tea is expensive, half of the cafe isn’t heated in the winter, and the drinks aren’t that great. I’ve had their tea and their smoothies, and have never been particularly impressed, especially for the price. Good if you had to run out the door and need a quick morning coffee/tea on your way to class, but not for much else. They do have wifi, but it is very slow, and other cafes not much farther away have better wifi and better drinks. 

Indoor Cafe

  • Price: ***
  • Ambiance: ****
  • Drinks: ***
  • Wifi: ???
  • My overall reaction to Indoor Cafe is a resounding meh. It is more expensive than most cafes, with a regular tea costing 2 JD, and the same selection of teas as Coffee Talk. It is a nice space, and they have a variety of chairs, and the whole cafe is nonsmoking, which is great if you, like me, are not a smoker. The wifi is confusing - the man downstairs will tell me there is wifi upstairs, and a password for it, but the password doesn’t work, and the man upstairs will say the only wifi is downstairs. So I always end up just using my own wifi, and drinking overpriced mediocre tea. Nice if you want a nonsmoking place close to CIEE, though - to my knowledge it is the only one. 

Sawaleaf Coffee Lounge

  • Price: ****
  • Ambiance: ****
  • Drinks: ****
  • Wifi: Yes
  • Sawaleaf is, along with Coffee Talk, one of my favorite cafes near CIEE. Their tea is reasonably priced, and they have several options including sahlab and karak tea. It is a very pretty space, lots of plants and well lit. It is usually fairly quiet, though it tends to pick up around lunch time. They have a full food menu (pizza/manaqeesh, sandwiches, pasta, waffles, crepes, ice cream) in addition to drinks, which makes it my go-to spot for days when I have six hours between classes. Their wifi is excellent, and the people working are very friendly. Smoking is allowed, and people often come to smoke hookah, so if the smell of hookah bothers you, this may not be the ideal location. 

Notes Books and Cafe

  • Price: ****
  • Ambiance: *****
  • Drinks: ****
  • Wifi: No
  • I’m not sure why it is called Notes Books and Cafe - they don’t sell books. But it is a nice cafe, with huge windows and beautiful decorations, attached to the Sofia Suites Hotel. Smoking is allowed, and their hookahs seem to be a popular choice. It is reasonably cheap, and their drink selection is good. They don’t have wifi unfortunately, but it is very close to CIEE, and a great choice if you’re looking for a quick, close coffee stop. As of writing this (April 2019) they are undergoing renovations, but hopefully they are still nice when the renovations finish. Nothing spectacular, but a nice place. 

The Cake Shop

  • Price: ***
  • Ambiance: ****
  • Drinks: ***
  • Wifi: No
  • Definitely a hike from CIEE, but it’s worth it, in my opinion. It is somewhat expensive by my recollection, but the cake is delicious, and it’s a really cute place. If you don’t like the color pink or floral aesthetics, this will not be the place for you. They have a variety of smoothies and juices in addition to standard cafe offerings. No wifi, sadly. But, if you’re having a cake craving and need to spend some time at a cafe, The Cake Shop is the answer.


Honorable Mentions
 

Mindhub Cafe

  • Price: ***
  • Ambiance: ****
  • Drinks: *****
  • Wifi: Yes - VERY fast
  • This cafe is a hub for expats in Amman. It is on the more expensive side, with my usual chai latte costing 4 JD. HOWEVER, it is the best chai latte I have found in Amman - very spicy, and they have soy milk, also a rarity in Amman. The cafe has two floors, both of which are nonsmoking. It is generally fairly quiet, and I have gone there several times when I’ve had phone or Skype interviews and did not want my young host siblings to disrupt the call. They have a variety of chair options, so if you are a stool and counter person, a couch person, a kitchen table person, or a comfy chair person, they have something for you. Mindhub is one of my (and many CIEE students’) favorite cafes in Amman because of their incredibly fast wifi - if I need to download large files or Skype with my family, I will often do it there so I am not using my own limited data. The only two downsides to Mindhub are the cost, which is higher than most cafes in Amman, and the location, as it is not particularly close to the CIEE center, my homestay, or any major locations as well. Overall, I highly recommend Mindhub for days when you have lots of free time and work to do, or Netflix to catch up on. https://www.mindhub.me/ 

Rumi Cafe

  • Price: ****
  • Ambiance: ****
  • Drinks: **************
  • Wifi: Yes*
  • Located in Jabal al-Weibdeh, this is a beautiful tea lounge, and I highly encourage trying it at least once. When you order tea here, you receive an entire pot of the tea of your choice, and their selection is incredible. It is on the more expensive side, but you get more tea when you buy it. It can get loud when it gets crowded, and it’s a small cafe, so seating can be hard to find when it’s busy. For wifi, you get an access code that is good for a limited amount of time, and then you have to buy something to get a new code. https://www.facebook.com/rumicafejo/

Turtle Green Tea Bar

  • Price: ****
  • Ambiance: ****
  • Drinks: **************
  • Wifi: Yes*
  • If you’ve spent time on Rainbow Street, you’ve almost definitely passed by Turtle Green. This is also a tea specialty cafe, with a wide selection of their own teas, some available at other cafes around town. They have really good tea, and similar to Rumi, you get a pot of tea when you order it. It’s a bit more expensive, but it’s significantly higher quality tea than you get at Coffee Talk or Indoor. Also like Rumi, you get a limited-access wifi password with your purchase, and you have to buy something else to extend it. It’s a lovely space, with comfy chairs and nice decorations. Definitely recommend as a pit stop when exploring Rainbow Street and Jabal Amman. http://www.turtlegreentea.com


*note: these reflect my personal opinions only, and not official endorsements by CIEE or CIEE Amman.*

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