Creating a real brew-haha: The trendsetting Jeddah coffee shop

Brew92°: A perfect place to hang out for the day. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj )
Updated 19 July 2018
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Creating a real brew-haha: The trendsetting Jeddah coffee shop

  • Brew92° has been generating a lot of buzz since its soft opening in July 2016
  • The team at the cafe sources beans from some of the best growers and suppliers in the world, then roasts them in their own private roastery

JEDDAH: Coffee aficionados in Jeddah have probably heard the name Brew92° whispered in reverent tones as a suggestion for the perfect place to hang out for the day, or just to pop into for a quick caffeine fix.

The specialty cafe has also introduced Saudi Arabia to the world of coffee bean auctions. In June 2018 it paid $105 for a pound of Gori Gesha beans at the annual Gesha Village Coffee Estate auction in Ethiopia, the highest price ever paid for African beans.

Brew92° has been generating a lot of buzz since its soft opening in July 2016, attracting coffee drinkers of all ages to try its consistent and powerful blends. The team at the cafe sources beans from some of the best growers and suppliers in the world, then roasts them in their own private roastery. 

Arab News was given a special behind-the-scenes glimpse of the process to see how the beans are prepared and processed to make the perfect cup of coffee. All of the roasts they create are tasted blind, for example, without the tasters knowing the origin of the beans, to avoid any bias in their opinions on the taste and quality. “There’s no absolute, there are only guidelines,” is the motto the team behind Brew92° live by.

The idea for the place came from co-founder Abdul Aziz Al-Musbahi, who often frequented a coffee shop when he spent a few years in London studying and decided he would like to open a branch in Saudi Arabia. The owner declined to do so but instead offered to teach him all he knew about coffee beans and roasting.

Later, Al-Musbahi met business partner Hussain Ibrahim and suggested opening a roastery. Instead of immediately finding premises and starting work, Al-Musbahi set about finding and recruiting the best talents, before starting to develop the brand. He built and invested in a solid, capable team, the members of which trained with coffee consultants.

“I’ve been in this field since 2005,” said Ibrahim. “What I learned in the two years with Brew92° beats what I learned in the 10 years before it and the 10 years ahead.”

The name of the place, he added, was decided during a trip he and Al-Musbahi took to Dubai.

“The perfect water temperature for brewing is between 90 and 96 degrees Celsius; 92 is kind of in the middle — and it is the year in which Abdul Aziz was born.”

The team’s creative mastermind, Mohamed Bamahriz, has a theory about why the cafe is proving so popular.

“It’s because we’re addressing our customer’s five senses,” he said. 

Bamahriz noted: “We have our customized music playlist based on the time of the day and what sort of ambiance the customer is looking for whenever they come here, be it early in the morning or with slumped shoulders after working hours.”

“We also tailored our decor to be visually friendly and cozy,” he said and added: “Our visitors not only enjoy the coffee, they get to smell it and be completely submerged within the experience.”

“A month from now, we will also be introducing fashionable merchandise, which is something they can touch. We want to create a brand but we don’t want it to be niche and exclusive. Just like (our intention for) specialty coffee when we first introduced it, we want it to be for everyone; we want to create a sense of community and we want to prove that we can all coexist.”

He said that something he loves about Brew92° is that he can look around and see a man wearing a thobe sitting next to another in shorts and a third in a suit, while girls in niqabs sit side by side with others wearing the hijab and those who not — and it does not matter at all because everyone is equal.

The cafe also aims to be a trendsetter, rather than just following them.

“We’ve created quite a bit of hype with our salted caramel drink,” said marketing director Nidal Taha. It is called Halawa Bagara in Arabic, named after the popular caramel fudge that has a special place in the childhood memories of millennials. “We invented it by mixing coffee with it — after all, we’re not a juice shop,” added Taha.

“Many cafes are now trying to recreate it,” said Ibrahim. “Suppliers are bringing caramel sauces from all over the place. Our aim is to make it a signature drink everywhere, just like the Spanish introduced the Spanish latte — we want our drinks to reach the rest of the world.”


San Francisco moves closer to nation’s 1st e-cigarette ban

In this Monday, June 17, 2019, photo, Joshua Ni, 24, and Fritz Ramirez, 23, vape from electronic cigarettes in San Francisco. (AP)
Updated 19 June 2019
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San Francisco moves closer to nation’s 1st e-cigarette ban

  • Since 2014, e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among young people in the country

SAN FRANCISCO: San Francisco supervisors moved a step closer Tuesday to becoming the first city in the US to ban all sales of electronic cigarettes to crack down on youth vaping.
Supervisors unanimously approved a ban on the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes. They also endorsed a ban on manufacturing of e-cigarettes on city property. The measures will require a subsequent vote before becoming law.
“We spent the ‘90s battling big tobacco, and now we see its new form in e-cigarettes,” Supervisor Shamann Walton said.
The supervisors acknowledged that the legislation would not entirely prevent youth vaping, but they hoped it would be a start.
“This is about thinking about the next generation of users and thinking about protecting the overall health and sending a message to the rest of the state and the country: Follow our lead,” Supervisor Ahsha Safaí said.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera said young people “have almost indiscriminate access to a product that shouldn’t even be on the market.” Because the Food and Drug Administration has not yet completed a study to assess the public health consequences of e-cigarettes and approved or rejected them, he said, “it’s unfortunately falling to states and localities to step into the breach.”
Most experts agree that e-cigarettes are less harmful than the paper-and-tobacco variety because they do not produce all the cancer-causing byproducts found in cigarette smoke. But researchers say they are only beginning to understand the risks of e-cigarettes, which they think may damage the lungs and blood vessels.
Since 2014, e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among young people in the country. Last year, 1 in 5 US high school students reported vaping in the previous month, according to a government survey .
FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum said in a statement that the agency will continue to fight e-cigarette use, including preventing youth access to the products, acting against manufacturers and retailers who illegally market or sell the products to minors and educating young people about health risks.
Leading San Francisco-based e-cigarette company Juul frames vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco. Juul has said it has taken steps to deter children from using its products. The company said in a statement that it has made its online age-verification process more robust and shut down its Instagram and Facebook accounts to try to discourage vaping by those under 21.
“But the prohibition of vapor products for all adults in San Francisco will not effectively address underage use and will leave cigarettes on shelves as the only choice for adult smokers, even though they kill 40,000 Californians every year,” Juul spokesman Ted Kwong said.
Tuesday’s vote also sets the stage for a November ballot fight over e-cigarettes. Juul has already contributed $500,000 to the Coalition for Reasonable Vaping Regulation, which is set to gather signatures to put an initiative on the issue before voters.
The American Vaping Association opposed San Francisco’s proposal as well, saying adult smokers deserve access to less hazardous alternatives.
“Going after youth is a step that you can take before taking these out of the hands of adults,” said the association’s president, Gregory Conley.
Groups representing small businesses also opposed the measures, which they said could force stores to close.
“We need to enforce the rules that we have in place already,” said Carlos Solórzano, CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco.
Walton said he would establish a working group to support small businesses and address their concerns.
Although San Francisco’s ban is unlike any other in the country, the Public Health Law Center at Mitchell Hamline School of Law reports that all but two states have at least one law restricting youth access to e-cigarettes. City voters last year approved a ban on sales of candy and fruit-flavored tobacco products.
Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control and Research and a supporter of the measures, said e-cigarettes are associated with heart attacks, strokes and lung disease.
The presence of e-cigarettes, he said, has “completely reversed the progress we’ve made in youth smoking in the last few years.”