The Coffee Community in the Emirates: A Focus on 2023 and Anticipation for 2024

The coffee culture and industry are experiencing significant growth in the United Arab Emirates, mirroring the upward trajectory seen in other economic sectors. However, what sets this sector apart is its foundation on the historical significance of coffee as a beverage and its unique position within the Emirati community. Coffee continues to symbolize Generosity and respect, standing out as a prominent tradition of hospitality passed down through generations. Consequently, it is unsurprising to witness the societal, cultural, and industrial dimensions of coffee in the Emirates evolving.

Within this vibrant coffee culture of the United Arab Emirates, 2023 unfolds as a year marked by transformation and continuity, welcoming new factors and contributors to the scene. As we bid farewell to 2023 and usher in 2024, We “QahwaWorld” tried to analyze the coffee community’s dynamics in the Emirates over the past year. To provide insights into future trends, challenges, and innovations shaping the UAE’s coffee industry, we have engaged two distinguished experts in the field: Lameen Abdul-Malik, CEO of Honest Management Company and founder of 100 Ideas Café, and Federico Ortile, DM of the Simonelli Foundation in the Middle East.

In his assessment of the general landscape of the coffee sector in the Emirates, Lameen Abdul-Malik observed a noteworthy increase in the number of cafes claiming to serve specialty coffee. This trend is accompanied by rising prices and a discernible surge in new cafes spread across the landscape. While Lameen Abdul-Malik did not identify shifts in consumer preferences for coffee types or preparation methods, he affirmed the stability of consumer preferences across generations.

Amidst the prominence of innovation and technology, Lameen Abdul-Malik noted a subtle shift in the adoption of technology within cafes, with some opting for batch coffee preparation and automatic pouring methods, influencing the pace of coffee consumption. However, he expressed concern that sustainability efforts remain insufficient, citing Cypher as the sole company making substantial strides in this area by incorporating solar panels for roasting.

Addressing challenges and opportunities in the sector Lameen Abdul-Malik highlighted the lack of transparency in identifying sources and financial conflicts between cafes. He stressed the imperative to enhance business acumen among coffee industry experts, identifying untapped potential in proper business training, fostering a business-oriented approach among baristas, and promoting specialty coffee in fine dining establishments.

Dismissing the impact of global events, economic transformations, and climate issues on the local coffee industry, Lameen Abdul-Malik anticipated an increase in coffee-related activities in the UAE. However, he expressed concerns that the awareness generated within the coffee community is insufficient to reach the broader populace. Looking ahead, he expects rising prices and climate change to impact coffee prices, presenting challenges and opportunities for companies to invest in ethical sourcing and customer education.

Turning to Federico Ortile, CEO of Simonelli in the Middle East, his portrayal of the coffee scene in the Emirates highlighted a notable shift in consumer preferences, especially among young people. These individuals are inclined towards innovative preparation methods and flavored coffee. Federico Ortile emphasized the digital inclination of young people in the UAE, leading to trends such as online delivery, cloud kitchens, and dark stores gaining traction. Cafes are strategically combining technology and passion to drive an evolving coffee culture, with a growing emphasis on drive-thru services.

Federico Ortile underscored the technological advancements in coffee brewing, citing innovations like “PureBrew” from the “Victoria Arduino” company. This technology seamlessly switches between espresso and filter coffee with the touch of a button, representing a significant revolution. Furthermore, developments in milk steaming technology, such as the Easy Cream steam wand, have simplified and standardized the milk steaming process, ensuring safety for baristas.

Regarding community events and contributions to developing coffee culture in the UAE, Federico Ortile confirms that during the year 2023, the UAE witnessed many important events related to coffee and community participation activities, which contributed to strengthening the already strong coffee community, as prominent events such as the “World of Coffee” exhibition contributed Coffee Dubai 2023, and the Pure Brew Roadshow organized by Victoria Arduino Black Eagle Maverick, help establish coffee culture. These events not only promote healthy competition, but also provide platforms for exchanging knowledge, enhancing skills, and celebrating coffee culture. Such activities reinforce the UAE’s position as a vital hub for coffee lovers and professionals alike.

With the upcoming launch of the Experience Lab in Al Quoz, Victoria Arduino aims to further promote coffee culture by organizing educational events, becoming a reference point for interaction, knowledge transfer, and the dissemination of values, DNA, and technology to future generations in the United Arab Emirates and the region.

Looking ahead to 2024, Federico Ortile anticipates new trends and developments in the UAE’s coffee industry. He emphasized the increasing interconnectedness of the coffee community due to digital transformation and the influence of social media, transcending geographical boundaries. Global Coffee World initiatives promote inclusivity, allowing diverse communities to actively participate and shaping the future of the industry through collaboration and shared expertise.

Education is poised to play a pivotal role in breaking down barriers and uniting communities. The focus on coffee education, exemplified by platforms like the online Coffee Knowledge Center and Demo Labs, is expected to propel the industry forward, facilitating a collective journey towards a new future.

In conclusion, the overview of the UAE’s coffee scene presents a tapestry of contrast and convergence, where challenges coexist with promises of technological innovation and a growing global coffee community. The future appears to be a blend of tradition and innovation, where the aroma of coffee transcends generations and geographical boundaries, uniting enthusiasts on a collective journey into the next era of coffee culture in the UAE.

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