JEDDAH: Nowadays, in Saudi Arabia, almost every neighborhood has dozens of coffee shops to choose from, each offering something different — whether a specialty blend of espresso, or a unique setting.
Coffee shops have turned into a social hub in the Kingdom, where people gather to share ideas and stories. They have become part of many people’s daily routine, and residents of the Kingdom are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of social interaction and exchange in such places — which offer space for dialogue, art and culture.
A good example is WaCafe in Al-Ahsa. Founded by Eissa Althaqib and Hamad Almaglouth, WaCafe is firmly in touch with the city’s roots, something that is evident not only in the shop’s authentic interior, but also in its coffee, and its activities.
WaCafe’s menu includes beans from around the world, but one special drink stands out: The Wacafe latte. It’s a signature drink with a twist. It has dates in it, incorporating a Hasawi staple into your brew.
The owners are committed to encouraging people to share their experience and knowledge, and host regular weekend coffee hours where a guest speaker — perhaps an artist or writer — will talk about their experience and answer questions from the audience. There are also free weekly workshops on painting and coffee brewing.
Althaqib and Almaglouth are also keen to ensure that their coffee shop is environmentally-friendly. The coffee cups are made from recycled remains of coffee beans and plants. For its founders, WaCafe is more than just a place to buy coffee: It is a reflection of its location, a place that encourages discussion between friends and strangers, a place for artists and thinkers to meet. It is an example of how the Kingdom's coffee-shop culture is evolving.