Natalya Latypova, Director of projects and F&B Consultant of GLEE Hospitality Solutions LLC, explores the growing trend of specialty coffee in the UAE.
Specialty coffee has garnered a great market interest in the region, and this in turn is reflected in the growth of overall specialty coffee awareness. It’s clear to see the emergence of multiple specialty coffee shops all over the GCC, and even non-coffee specialized restaurants/cafes are introducing specialty coffee items from commercial coffee chains into their menus. We can also note the inclusion of single-origin and house blend coffee items from commercial coffee chains into their overall menu breakdown.
The number of local coffee roasteries in the UAE has doubled, perhaps even tripled over the past five years, with establishments, such as Specialty Batch Raw, Jebena, Cafe Rider, Gold Box and Seven Fortunes being among the first pioneers top start the trends.
The evolution of the segment has also seen the development of the exposed roastery style specialty coffee store, where patrons can actually see the live roasting process. This allows for a more immersive experience and connects the guest to the authenticity of the process and the quality of the ingredients being used. A notable example of this is The Climbing Goat Roastery in Depachika Food Hall in Nakheel Mall, where the coffee bar is built around the roaster, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the finer details of this craft whilst sipping their specialty coffee.
International brands have also enjoyed success in the UAE, Japanese import % Arabica being a fine example of this. Since launching its first store in 2016, the company has quickly grown in popularity among the local population. Its numerous pop-ups across the Emirates always attract long queues.
Another factor that accounts for the rise in specialty coffee is the cultural expectation and significance associated with coffee in the UAE. From a guest’s perspective, being offered high-quality specialty coffee in any dining establishment is the norm. In turn, it should always be noted that coffee in the UAE is not solely regarded as a strict morning beverage but it is also part of an evening ritual for most Emiratis. This has had a direct impact on the increased demand for coffee and dessert during evening operating hours.
There is also an upward trend in home manual brewing. Many coffee enthusiasts are no longer content with getting their coffee from cafes and coffee shops and have subsequently invested in gadgets such as espresso machines. In response, roasteries have begun setting up specialty dining establishment is the norm. In turn, it should also be noted that coffee in the UAE is not solely regarded as a strict morning beverage but it is also part of an evening ritual for most Emiratis. This has had a direct impact on the increased demand for coffee and dessert during evening operating hours.