Saudi coffee expert showcases importance of Brazilian coffee beans

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Sara Al-Ali aims to give her customers a unique experience. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 17 November 2019

Saudi coffee expert showcases importance of Brazilian coffee beans

  • Most of the Brazilian coffee here in Saudi Arabia has classic chocolaty, nutty flavors

JEDDAH: Cafes are a booming industry in the Kingdom. With many cafes competing with each other, Saudi barista, cafe owner and coffee specialist Sara Al-Ali aims to give her customers a unique experience by reintroducing Turkish coffee and adding a special item to her brewing menu: Brazilian coffee beans.
Al-Ali went to Brazil as part of an origin trip organized by the Specialty Coffee Association and attended the International Coffee Week in 2018.
“As a coffee professional and a person who’s really passionate about coffee, I had a dream to visit a coffee plantation at least once in my life. I had so many options and it never worked, so I thought to myself I had to choose one origin trip, and I thought Brazil should be on the list because it is one of the biggest producers of coffee in the world, so it’s a must,” she told Arab News.
“I got to know people from around the world, we were sharing stories about our culture and coffee, I also met coffee producers from Guatemala, Kenya and Nicaragua, also roasters, baristas and cafe owners and people who are interested in coffee. It was an amazing opportunity to share my knowledge and my expertise and learn from these people, and of course making new coffee friends,” she added.
Al-Ali and her group were invited to many sessions that were led by big names in the coffee industry such as Flavio Borem and Gabriela Sanchez.
“They were very informative, we learned a lot about the research that’s going on in the coffee industry and what they have to add to the coffee industry and to the world, not only in Brazil.”
Al-Ali said she was well-received by the coffee community in Brazil: “They were very welcoming and friendly. They were interested to know more about Saudi culture, specifically about coffee, our habits and what coffee we usually drink and if we have tried Brazilian coffee. I assured them that we have Brazilian coffee everywhere in Saudi Arabia.”
Coffee brings communities together, she explained: “I was communicating with many people who didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak a word in Portuguese but we managed with some of my French and Spanish to communicate and get along. I really don’t know how but I believe it’s the coffee language. Everybody speaks coffee.
“Most of the Brazilian coffee here in Saudi Arabia has classic chocolaty, nutty flavors. So when I tried coffee that was exotic and aromatic, I was amazed. It was a wonderful experience, it really changed the way I think about Brazilian coffee.”
Al-Ali competed in the MENA Cezve/Ibrik Championship in 2016 in Dubai and won 2nd place, and then competed in the World Cezve/Ibrik Championship in Budapest, Hungary in 2017 and won 6th place.
“It is one of the oldest methods of preparation, we call to here locally as Turkish coffee, and many people here use Brazilian or Colombian coffee for this specific preparation method.”
She said her aim was always to reintroduce Turkish coffee and apply quality standards.

BACKGROUND

Sara Al-Ali went to Brazil as part of an origin trip organized by the Specialty Coffee Association and attended the International Coffee Week in 2018.

“I have a cafe now in Abu Dhabi, UAE (Oosh Cafe). We are reintroducing Turkish coffee in a more contemporary way and applying quality standards.
“I’m using different beans to give people the opportunity to try a new experience because many people regard Turkish coffee as a primitive way of brewing or very traditional and I want to show people that we can use really good quality beans and we can have an amazing experience with Turkish coffee.”
She uses coffee from Yemen, Costa Rica, Panama and Ethiopia “and also what I found was many people are asking for Brazilian coffee. In November, I will introduce Brazilian coffee which I buy from a local roastery.”
Al-Ali’s goal is to improve coffee experiences locally and worldwide, and with her position as a coffee professional and a cafe owner and trainer, many people see her as an icon in the field.
“I have the responsibility to showcase the efforts that the farmers are putting in to give us this wonderful product. I would love to make coffee more approachable to the younger generation and make people rethink their choices and to enjoy coffee from different parts of the world.
“Brazillian coffees are one of the coffees that are a must in any cafe. They go along very well with milk-based drinks and I like them in Turkish coffee, so they are a must in my cafe.”


Saudis unite in condemnation of US Navy base attack

Updated 08 December 2019

Saudis unite in condemnation of US Navy base attack

  • The attack, in which a Saudi gunman killed three Americans, is viewed as an act that does not represent Saudi people
  • The OIC has said the attacker did not represent the tolerant Islamic values that distinguish the Saudi people

From the king and top-level Saudi government officials to everyday Saudi citizens, all are united in condemning the attack on a US Navy base in Pensacola, Florida, calling it as “un-Islamic” and barbaric.

The shooting of three Americans by a Saudi gunman was an individual attack that does not represent the Kingdom’s people, it has been widely  stressed. 

For decades, many Saudis have lived in the US for work or attended universities across many states, becoming their own ambassadors. 

Nedda Akhonbay, a communications professional working in Jeddah, expressed her sadness when she heard the news.

“My condolences go out to the families of the victims as I hope they find peace in their lives after facing such a tragedy. As a Saudi-American and having spent many formative years in the US and made friends who became like family, I thought this attack was very close to home and I hope both people work together to get past it.”

“As a student who lived in the States, I never faced any problems for being a Muslim,” said Alaa Sendi, an American-Saudi lecturer working in Jeddah University.

Having obtained a PhD in electrical engineering, Dr. Nazih Al-Othmani lived between the states of Michigan and Pennsylvania for ten years in the late 1990s and was in the US during the 9/11 attacks. He recalled how Americans understood that such atrocious attacks never represented a community, and this one was no exception.

“The tragic event that took place yesterday does not represent us, this attack is unacceptable regardless of any reason and no sane person can ever accept it,” he said. “I lived in the States for many years, I was also there on 9/11, and made many American friends throughout my time there. They stood by us, they helped us, protected us and our relationship was very civil and courteous. We need to stand together to combat this dangerous tendency that can be found in every community.”

The attack at the US naval station in Pensacola, Florida, was the second incident at an American military base in this week, following another shooting at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Wednesday. (
Josh Brasted / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

Many Saudis are angered over the actions of this one individual. Dr. Al-Othmani expressed his concerns about those who would take advantage of the situation and try to point a finger at Saudis.

“Though right-wingers will take advantage of the event and attack Saudi Arabia, I don’t believe many Americans will see it that way. Americans are aware enough to differentiate between the nationality of an individual and his actions,” he said.

Al-Othmani recommends that Saudi students communicate, cooperate and extend a hand of friendship to their respective communities.

In the decades of friendship and cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia, many Americans have come to work in the Kingdom and some have made it their home. 

Dr. Alia Mitchell, vice dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Director of the Teaching and Learning Center at the Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, is an American citizen who has been a Muslim for more than 30 years and has lived in the Kingdom for more than 20 years. She has chosen to live in the Kingdom as she sees the beauty of the religion interwoven into society, one that she believes is not represented by the shooter. 

“When something tragic that happens like this, it’s on the individual,” she said. “it doesn’t go back to the community or the society.

“I’m still sickened and mostly very, very saddened with this tragedy,” said Melanie H. “I’ve a son the same age as the shooter and can’t imagine what the pain and grief his actions would do to me as a parent. To learn that your son has caused so much hell… that he has taken others’ lives.”

She said: “I lived in Saudi Arabia for over 10 years and I have experienced Saudi’s hospitality, warmth — nothing like what I imagined or expected before arriving. It isn’t perfect but then what country or nation is?” 

“Now that the country has opened its doors to the world, people really shouldn’t judge the book by its cover especially when criminals like this shooter make such a false, misleading cover.” 

Melanie H continued: “Do not judge a people by an individual — that’s what we Americans are all about. No judging.”


ALSO READ

• King Salman leads Saudi official condemnations of Florida attack

He doesn’t represent us’: Saudis tweet in solidarity with Americans over Florida Navy base shooting

 Florida shooting ‘nothing to do with gunman’s family, tribe’


“This crime does not represent us as Saudis,” said Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Sheikh, minister of Islamic Affairs, on his personal Twitter account. “We reject such criminal acts and we sympathize with the injured and the families of the victims. It is a horrible crime and a dishonest act.

“We condemn crimes anywhere and anytime, and we stress our complete rejection of such horrible criminal acts which Islam forbids.”

Saudi scholar and Imam of Quba Mosque in Madinah Saleh Al-Maghamsi shared the same notion. He said: “This incident should be stripped away from religion and from the country to which whoever committed this criminal act is affiliated. The Shariah does not approve of this act for it violates the texts of the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet, which is based on the principle of no bloodshed. Logic also does not approve of this action.” 

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said the aggressor did not represent the tolerant Islamic values that distinguish the Saudi people and all Muslims who believe in tolerance, moderation and coexistence.

The General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia also condemned the shooting incident in Florida and called it a heinous crime. 

Describing it as a crime against humanity, the senior scholars stressed that such actions were against the true teachings of Islam. They said that the Saudi people will continue to uphold their noble values and contribute to the progress and prosperity of the world and humanity.