The Middle East is considered to be the cradle of coffee consumption. Naim Maadad, chief executive and founder of Gates Hospitality, takes us on a coffee-infused journey to discover the latest trends in this favorite beverage that are defining the region.
According to studies, the UAE — Dubai in particular — has long been the coffee hub of the Middle East. It’s no secret that the coffee culture is booming, and all major branded coffee markets are expected to flourish in the coming years, with huge growth opportunities. From modern cafes to traditional oriental shacks, coffee is taking the market by storm.
The Middle East and coffee
Strong coffee is very much part of our way of life in the Middle East. It is considered customary when welcoming guests, and all generations enjoy drinking a traditional cup or two.
I have to say that there is something about the Middle East that makes it particularly appealing, not least its coffee-rich lifestyle, which predates coffee culture in Europe.
Historically, coffee was known as “gahwa,” an Arabic expression. Although coffee drinking etiquette in the Middle East is complex and deep-rooted, the social nature of coffee is simple in most parts of the
world. Due to its unique customs, the Middle East has long stood out from the rest of the specialty coffee market. The increase in the variety of coffee machines is also driven by cultural change, local effects abroad and marketing of specialty coffees.
Types of coffee
Specialty coffee shops have grown in popularity in the Middle East. Among the world’s most innovative coffee hot spots, the region offers large chains the opportunity to boom in multiple markets. As imports increase and the country’s new technology gains traction, its market share is increasing. Middle Eastern cafés are witnessing a rise in several specialty coffees, including soya bean latte, white latte, ash latte, caramel coffee, juicer and blood-free drops.
The Middle East boasts a long and thriving coffee scene, with cafés serving everything from micro-roasted Arabica to the traditional “Arabic gahwa,” which comprises roasted coffee beans (light or dark) roasted and flavored with cardamom, saffron and other spices. Today, consumers in the Middle East are paying greater attention to coffee reviews, as well as everything from barista training to coffee varieties and equipment.
One of the most important developments in coffee is nitro. Made by steeping coffee grounds in cool water for around 12 hours, nitrogen is then added to create a bloodless nitro coffee, with a creamy texture and filling.
Other trends include floral cafés, perfect for fans of Instagram, and the coffee siphon technique, which involves extracting coffee from fine glass chambers using an elegant vacuum process.
The Chemex manual glass pourer is the perfect addition to specialty coffee shops. Using a paper filter, everything is homemade, which reduces coffee oil and yields a delicious drink.
Another trend is the unique Spanish latte. Sweeter than a regular latte, the Spanish version is made from a combination of condensed and steamed milk.
Cafés are experiencing a resurgence in popularity due to the fact that highly savvy shoppers and tourists are falling in love with artisan cafes, aperitif spaces and coffee products. Every year, the hybrid coffee culture continues to grow, and coffee shops and roasters have become popular places for business meetings and relaxation. The Middle East has a fusion coffee lifestyle: the traditional Arabic way of life and Western sensibilities. The younger generation truly loves specialty coffee in every respect: the product, the experience and so forth. In a much younger and more curious specialty coffee market, customers approach coffee menus with an open mind.
and founder of Gates Hospitality