Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Largest Middle East exhibition for coffee lovers wraps up in Riyadh

RIYADH, Saudi Arabica – The International Coffee and Chocolate Exhibition, the largest exhibition in the Middle East for coffee and chocolate lovers, recently concluded its 9th edition. The exhibition was held in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center.

Since the first day, the exhibition witnessed a vast turnout from several age groups. The audience participated in different experiences and delicious tastings.

They also viewed the most prominent products in the coffee and chocolate industry, including coffee and chocolate machines, equipment, accessories, coffee roasting and raw materials for chocolate, franchise opportunities, printing and packaging equipment, factories, and coffee and chocolate supplies. Additionally, several coffee and chocolate merchants, suppliers, and exporters participated in the exhibition.

The number of participants in the exhibition exceeded 200,000 visitors, including investors, businessmen, experts, and coffee lovers. The exhibition also hosted more than 400 local and international brands from 40 countries around the world.

The large turnout the exhibition witnessed reflects its prestigious reputation and remarkable distinction achieved in recent years. This has made it one of the most important trade exhibitions hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Moreover, it is the largest event specializing in coffee and chocolate in the Middle East. The exhibition is recognized by the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI). It is an international exhibition that conforms to the stipulated specifications and standards of the association. Additionally, it is an accredited member of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).

Championships and prizes

The exhibition concluded its fifth day with the Saudi Barista Championship, which is accredited by the World Barista Championship. The championship was held under the supervision of 4 international and 11 local judges. According to the nominated parties, voting, and evaluation, Ahmed Bahaa won first place in the Saudi Barista Championship. Abdul Rahim Al Balushi won second place and Muhammad Fakhri won third place. Financial prizes were distributed to the winners, where the first-place winner received SAR7,500, the second-place winner received SAR5,000, and the third-place winner received SAR3,500.

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Saudi World Brewers Cup

The exhibition also hosted the Saudi World Brewers Cup, which was held for the first time in Saudi Arabia with international accreditation. Moreover, it hosted numerous activities and awards to encourage innovation and the growth of businesses specialized in the field of coffee and chocolate manufacturing. 16 contestants participated, competing for 3 places. The winner of the Saudi World Brewers Cup, according to the nominated individuals, voting, and evaluation, was Nasser Mohammed. Adel Al-Hariri won second place and Mohammed Al-Hamid won third place.

The Middle East Coffee and Chocolate Awards

The Middle East Coffee and Chocolate Awards were given to the fastest-growing coffee and chocolate establishments in the Middle East. The awards aim to support the development of the local trade balance and the development of non-oil export revenues.

The winners of the Middle East Coffee and Chocolate Awards according to the nominations, voting, and evaluation are:

  • Best coffee experience: The Coffee Kingdom
  • Best local coffee: Curve
  • Best Roastery: Breehant Coffee Roastery
  • Best Coffee Packaging Design: The Roasting House
  • Best booth: Woods Roastery
  • Best luxury chocolate: ABEET
  • Best healthy chocolate: Vuttin

Notably, the festival organizers will send honorary shields to all the winners of the various competitions.

Investment opportunities

The International Coffee and Chocolate Exhibition hosted a group of entrepreneurs interested in investing in the field of coffee and chocolate at the local and international levels. The event is a platform for communicating with major participating companies and thousands of interested people through meetings to learn more about the opportunities led by innovations and product excellence in this field. The exhibition allowed major investors from participating companies to exchange deals and establish partnerships in the production, manufacturing, and exporting sectors of the industry.

Workshops and discussion sessions

The exhibition hosted workshops and dialogue sessions about the global trend in coffee and chocolate, the most prominent of which was The Middle East Coffee Conference (MECO). MECO is one of the largest conferences dedicated to coffee which brought together international speakers. The session included several main topics like the future of coffee cultivation, its strains, advanced technologies in roasting and preparation, as well as other main topics

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Day 1: Investing in coffee

On the first day of the exhibition, there were two interactive sessions where entrepreneurs shared their experiences and expertise with the participants.

The opening session featured a keynote address by Nourah Al Aidh, chairman of the Aseer Region Coffee Association. Her speech focused on the theme “Why do we need a sustainable coffee economy?”. This session, titled “Sustainability in Coffee: The main issues in 2023”, included esteemed speakers such as Mr. Mustafa Gustavo, business developer and intercultural connector; Mr. Juan Luis Barrios, GM of Finca La Merced and Proquimtec; Mr. Gustavo Valderrama, manager of quality and innovation TCV coffee solutions; Mr. Charles Fleer, owner and founder of La Boheme Café s.r.o; Mr. Alejandro Cadena, founder of Caravela Coffee.

The second session, titled “The Entrepreneur Spirit and Coffee Business Success”, featured Mr. Mubarak Al-Mabadi, founder of Coffee Story Company and the Lastoria Café chain, and founder of Haseel Roasters Company. Additionally, Ms. Diana Gomez, international business director at Aygo Colombia, participated in this session along with Mr. Ghanem Al-Youssef, founder and CEO of Coyard Cafe; Mr. Fadel Al-Nassar, CEO Franchise ME; Dr. Salem Muhammad, coffee Kingdom Ph.D. in management, lecturer in the field of business administration.

The keynote address for the second session was delivered by Eng. Bandar Al-Fifi, expert and director of coffee sector development FAO. His address revolved around the theme ‫“How Saudi Arabia is playing the long game by investing in the coffee industry?”.

Day 2: Coffee industry

On the second day of the exhibition, the fourth interactive session focused on the challenges of the coffee industry between climate change and rising costs. Three speakers shared their insights: Mr. Abdullah Al-Aqeel, certified coffee evaluator and developer of coffee and cafes; Mr. Dejene Dadi, GM of the Oromiya Cooperative Farmers Union; Mr. Muhammad Al Rajeh, founder and owner of the calibrated Cafe and Roastery and expert in coffee business.

Another session held on the second day was titled “Coffee Innovation and New Trends in 2024″. It featured Mr. Osama Al-Awam founder and director of Roasting House. Mr. Hussein Agraw Ibrahim, experienced in business management and supervisory in progressively growing business companies, and Mr. Alvaro Gaitan Bustamante, director of science and technology research at National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers who also participated in this session.

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The keynote address of the day was delivered by Mishary Al Sharif, CEO of Concourse Advertising. His address, titled “Myth or fact: Is there a strong growth of coffee industry” shed light on the growth prospects of the coffee industry.

The exhibition, which took place from December 5th to December 9th, spanned over five days and provided a dedicated platform for entrepreneurs, specialists, and enthusiasts in the coffee industry. The Saudi Coffee Association (SCA) was actively involved, and the event witnessed the participation of local and international authorities.

Day 3: Prepping for the Barista Championship

On the third day of the event, the focus was on sustainability in the production of specialized coffee. The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Gary Urrutia, managing director for the Cup of Excellence Program in Honduras, shedding light on this important topic.

The sixth session of the day centered around a thought-provoking question: “Is specialty coffee growing faster than global coffee consumption?”. This session featured discussions led by Mr. Walid Al Khaldi, general manager of Espresso Station; Eng. Abdullah bin Kulaib, researcher in coffee cultures; Mr. Moaz Al-Qahtan, co-founder of Black Night roastery; Mr. Abdullah Al-Othman, co-founder of Sika roastery; Mr. Ali Alblushi, founder of Slope, CEO of Roast limit KSA champion of AeroPress championship, championship judge and roaster.

Ms. Irina Sharipova, SCA Dubai coffee consultant and educator, delivered the keynote address during the 7th session, focusing on coffee culture and barista skills. The session revolved around the preparation for the barista championship and the techniques involved. Notable participants in this session included Mr. Bakour Albakour, head Barista, specialty coffee trainer and coffee projects quality development manager; Ms. Sara Alali, international judge WBC, WBrC, and WLAC; Mr. Sydney Abuor coffee beans quality control, barista trainer; Mr. Anas Adam, quality and development manager Salam Roastery; Mr. Raed Almas, partner and operations project manager at Levia, coffee championship competitor.

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