Medina Qahwa: Crafting Coffee with a Human Touch

I first laid eyes on her at the World of coffee Dubai 2024. Despite her bustling pace through the exhibition halls, I couldn’t seize the opportunity to converse with her. Fortunately, my daughter struck up a conversation and obtained her contact details. Our inaugural encounter unfolded post-exhibition at ALSercal Avenue, where we exchanged dialogue over a steaming cup of matcha tea.

Unfamiliar with Medina Ilyas, the name of her coffee enterprise, “Medina Coffee,” intrigued me. “Who are you?” I inquired. “I’m a woman from Kazakhstan who married an Omani man and relocated to Oman,” she replied. Following the eruption of conflict in Yemen, a neighboring nation to Oman, I received inquiries from acquaintances about the situation there. Unaware of the circumstances, I was enlightened by their accounts of the war’s dire toll on children, some succumbing to starvation. This prompted me to contemplate ways to extend aid. Upon researching Yemen, I unearthed its pivotal role in coffee’s history, igniting within me a desire to support its populace through coffee cultivation and commerce.

Medina initiated a humanitarian forum in Muscat, convening women to strategize aid efforts for Yemen. We amassed considerable funds and dispatched them promptly. This initiative sparked the inception of a commercial endeavor aimed at providing sustainable assistance – thus, “Medina Coffee” came into being. It represents not just a business venture but a humanitarian endeavor.

Embarking on a journey across the Arabian Peninsula, Medina delved into the realm of coffee, amassing over 700 Arab coffee recipes, 10 of which were published in a tome titled “The Art of Arab Coffee” In this opus, Medina Elias, a coffee aficionado and founder of Medina Coffee Company, delves into the opulent cultural heritage of authentic Arab coffee.

The cultivation, roasting, and preparation of Arab coffee were originally pioneered and perfected in the Arabian Peninsula. Arab coffee transcends mere refreshment; it embodies a cultural ethos and serves as a cornerstone of Middle Eastern hospitality. With roots tracing back centuries in the Middle East, its traditions have endured across generations.

Medina divulges her secrets of coffee preparation, featuring unique recipes incorporating cardamom, frankincense, or saffron, resulting in exquisitely rich and flavorful Arab coffee. “The Art of Arab Coffee” encompasses a succinct history of Arab coffee, offering insights into Arab culture and hospitality, alongside key revelations about the world of Arab coffee and its profound health benefits.

Enriched with captivating anecdotes, the book unveils the origins of coffee, from an Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi to Sufi monks in Yemen who imbibed it to maintain wakefulness during nocturnal meditations. Presently, Medina endeavors to inaugurate her inaugural coffee shop in Dubai and expand her commercial footprint across the UAE and beyond.

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