Bowled Over: the world’s first cereal-only café heads to Dubai

Cereal Killer Café elevates a childhood breakfast staple to a veritable art form – just don't call it a hipster hangout 

Cereal is happiness held together by milk – words to live by in the world of Alan and Gary Keery, owners of the London-based brand Cereal Killer Café. After catering to a multitude of customers from the Middle East, the identical twin brothers are getting ready to open their first international outpost in Dubai later this year. And if the two branches in Shoreditch and Camden are any indication, the big kids among us are in for a treat.

Genius in its take on a breakfast staple, Cereal Killer Café is the first of its kind, offering a selection of over 100 different cereals from across the globe, limited-editions included. A bowl of everything from Chocolate Lucky Charms and Trix to Waffle Crunch and Shreddies can be drenched by one of 30 varieties of milk, including Lemon Pie and Pumpkin Spice.

Cereal Killer Café cereals
Choose from over 100 different cereals from across the globe, and 30 varieties of milk

“The light bulb moment happened when Gary and I were hungover in Shoreditch and just fancied going somewhere for a bowl of cereal, but realised it didn’t exist,” says Alan, explaining how the idea was born.

Taking the humble bowl of cereal up a notch there will be 23 toppings to choose from – blueberries, Oreos, walnuts and freeze-dried marshmallows, to name a few. Also on offer is toast with spreads such as popping candy spread, hot and cold beverages, and a range of memorably-named ‘cereal cocktails’ like Unicorn Poop and Stinky Monkey.

For chocoholics everywhere, ordering the Chocopottomus is a no-brainer. “If we had a Michelin star for one of our cereal cocktails, it would have to be this combination of Krave and Coco Pops cereal, a Happy Hippo cookie, and chocolate milk,” says Alan.

Cereal Killer Café chalkboard
Taking the humble bowl of cereal up a notch there will be 23 toppings to choose from

Nearly 20 different flavours of Pop-Tarts are sure to incite a sense of nostalgia, as is the retro décor theme – the brightly coloured cafés are kitted out with vintage cereal boxes and the toys that fell out of them. “We’ve always said we sell the cereal experience, not just a bowl of cereal. Our cafés are littered with cereal memorabilia to create a museum feel, and with lots of ‘80s and ‘90s kitsch, it feels like a kid’s bedroom, especially with the addition of single-bed seating with ‘90s duvet covers,” describes Alan.

Despite the smiles and sugar rush essentially guaranteed by a trip to Cereal Killer Café, the Belfast-born twins are hardly strangers to controversy. In 2015, they inadvertently became the poster boys for gentrification when their Brick Lane branch was attacked. In Dubai, news of the opening saw mixed reactions as well. Enthusiasts of the most important meal of the day were thrilled, while others accused Cereal Killer Café of “completely lacking in substance”.

If we had a Michelin star for one of our cereal cocktails, it would have to be the combination of Krave and Coco Pops cereal

Alan Keery, Co-owner, Cereal Killer Café

Nevertheless, the duo are usually revered as breakfast dream-makers. “We are offering something no one else is, but if it’s not your cup of tea, then that’s fine… just ensure you talk about how much you hate us on social media. It’s great promotion,” says Alan, defiantly addressing his critics.

But pleasing Dubai’s novelty-seeking foodies shouldn’t pose too big a challenge for the brothers who will try just about anything – they were reportedly chasing a sweet potato flavoured Special K from South Korea earlier this year.

In a city boasting the finest of fine dining, quirky and laidback concepts are eagerly lapped up. A food pop-up by the name of Parker’s recently created a social media storm as diners are expected to scour the city to find a golden key that will allow access to its menu of decadent sliders with fillings like coffee-infused Wagyu beef and Sriracha shrimp.

Cereal Killer Café seating area
The cafés are littered with cereal memorabilia to create a museum feel, and lots of ‘80s and ‘90s kitsch

Still going strong are others like Pots, Pans & Boards, where the name actually describes the menu. Here, the rustic dining room is more akin to a cosy yet cluttered farm kitchen, the hearty food and large communal tables encouraging patrons to share. Others worth a try? Aprons & Hammers for a messy, fun evening of pincers and hammers to tackle bucketfuls of crab or lobster, and Zaroob for Levantine street food favourites enjoyed against a backdrop of manga-style graffiti, neon lighting, and empty Nutella jars and Coke bottles serving as décor.

As buzz around the opening of Cereal Killer Café grows, the media continues to refer to it as a “hipster hangout”, and admittedly, the Keery twins sporting beards, tattoos and plastic glasses makes it easy to see why. But Alan vehemently objects to this label.

“Some people think it’s only hipsters in our café, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We get families, teenagers, adults, tourists and locals because cereal isn’t just for one type of person.” While exact launch details are rumoured to be imminent, he confirms that a licensing agreement has been signed – not without promising the cereal-inspired malted milkshakes are more than worth the wait.

Cereal Killer Café honey monster
Fmilies, teenagers, adults, tourists and locals alike can keep hunger locked up 'til lunch