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Wake up and smell the Coffee
Ryan Godinho gives Kipp an insight into the coffee consumption trend and business outlook in the country
August 14, 2012 2:41 by Muhammad Aldalou
Around 72 per cent of café goers in the UAE want cafés in the region to further raise quality standards in the delivery of products and services, citing presentation, preparation and product knowledge as key areas of improvement, according to a recent survey conducted by UAE Coffee Events.
Hygiene, storage and cleanliness were most important to 97 per cent of the respondents, while barista skills and product knowledge were cited by 84 per cent and 91 per cent of respondents respectively. The same survey also revealed that 87 per cent of respondents are impressed with the inclusion of latte art in their coffee.
Let’s start with the exploration of coffee consumption trends in the GCC. What can you tell us, briefly, about the pattern of this trend over the last several years?
Franchised coffee shops have been dominant in this region for many years with the top 4 coffee chains conveniently located throughout the populated areas of the UAE. However, we have only really started to see a change over the past 5 years. Independent coffee roasters have slowly been establishing themselves in this market over the last 5 years and are proving to be quite popular.
Whilst they do promote the importance of locally roasted coffee and the impact it has on quality, these roasters come with international/westernized methods of roasting coffee that thoroughly appeal to the majority expat population.
In your survey it showed how important hygiene was for cafe goers, but what about the quality of the coffee itself?
Our survey results indicated that 45% of people stated that the overall quality of coffee in the UAE is not up to the standards of the quality they have back home.
But people’s perception of quality varies, so we can only justify the need for improvement in an efficient process of the coffee beans to cup. This involves storage of the beans, the preparation of the coffee, presentation as well as staff-consumer interaction. Other than the quality of the roasted coffee itself, these are also variable factors that affect quality.
Comparing the expansion of coffee shops in the UAE with other parts of the world, would you say that this region is far behind?
If you consider the words in its generic form “Coffee Shop” – then no, the UAE is definitely not behind in any way. The expansion growth rate for a franchise module here is tremendous. It would be hard to find any other country where a brand would be able to set up 10 outlets within a few months of entering a new market.
Having said this, the region is indeed far behind the rest of the world with respect to Specialty Coffee. The concept behind the Specialty Coffee movement (otherwise coined as the Third Wave of Coffee) plays emphasis on high-grade coffee that is roasted to exacting standards either on-site at the cafe in a ‘micro-roastery’ set up or outsourced through a local roaster. It also entails fine-tuning the staff’s preparation of the beverage through a variety of low and high tech brewing methods, all the while ensuring that the staff’s knowledge and service skills enhance the customer’s experience.
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