Saudi coffee expert showcases importance of Brazilian coffee beans

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Photo/Supplied
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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.”


Saudi artist reimagines Jeddah through ’80s pop art

The illustrations are figments, romanticizing the streets people know well. They expose the genuine fondness Jeddawis carry in their hearts for the city, says the artist, who goes by the name of ZHA on social media. (Supplied)
Updated 09 August 2020

Saudi artist reimagines Jeddah through ’80s pop art

  • Zaina Hassan feels that love and belonging we feel toward the coastal city are very real and deserve to be illuminated
  • Deep Blue is an artwork that portrays a girl walking along the new Corniche with the sea as her background. It speaks of moments when you feel melancholic or blue for reasons unknown to you

JEDDAH: Every Jeddawi has an obsession with their city; the elderly reminisce about historic Jeddah in the old days, while the youth romanticize the modern city through photography and social media.

One Saudi artist, Zaina Hassan, 23, who goes by the name ZHA on social media, chose to express her attachment to Jeddah by reimagining it through ’80s pop art.
“To many of us, Jeddah is a city too familiar for words, for beautiful odes and formal praise. Yet, the love and belonging we feel toward it are very real and deserve to be illuminated,” she told Arab News.
She added: “My deep affection toward the city only grew while I was away, and all its beauty that was previously hidden in plain sight became visible to me in my nostalgia.”
The artist has completed eight pieces; the first artwork, shared on Instagram is called “Show You the World” and portrays two people walking toward the Globe Roundabout in northern Jeddah.

FASTFACTS

• Re-Imagine Exhibition opened on July 27 at Medd Cafe, and will continue until August end.

• Zaina Hassan’s artwork will be available for purchase.

“This piece is dedicated to people who dream of seeing the world but find themselves stuck in one place. A gentle reminder that there is much to see and feel, even without getting on a plane and traveling thousands of kilometers,” she said.
The other pieces follow the same idea, where the location reflects certain feelings or emotions of the characters in the artwork.
“Deep Blue” is an artwork that portrays a girl walking along the new Corniche with the sea as her background. “It speaks of moments when you feel melancholic or blue for reasons unknown to you,” Hassan said.


“Rosie” is another artwork that shows a couple standing together lovingly, with the old Saudi airplane monument behind them. The monument symbolizes how every relationship is a journey, she added.
Hassan chose ’80s pop art as her medium because it combines youthful content with a vintage appearance, which she is very fond of.
“For the love of everything vintage. Comic book art or ’80s pop art has a nostalgic yet youthful and modern look to it, so it was the perfect artistic style to merge the old with the new.”
The artist began sharing her work on Instagram during the difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
“I first thought of the theme behind the first few pieces in the midst of the COVID-19 avalanche, when isolation and uncertainty were still unexplored territories to most of us; the main incentive behind the theme was homesickness,” Hassan added.
She said it was not artwork by other artists that inspired her, but things from her daily life such as songs, movies and stories.
“I found that listening to certain songs inspires me so much more vividly than looking at or studying actual art pieces. Obviously, comic book illustrators have inspired me enough to use this specific style and guided me with regard to colors and composition, but I believe that the real inspiration behind my artworks’ ideas come from songs, as well as movie scenes, pictures and stories,” she said.
“Basically, anything that is able to transport you to an alternative reality for a period of time. So many things inspire me and influence me daily, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact source.”
Hassan said the illustrations were figments, romanticizing the streets people know well, but they exposed the genuine fondness Jeddawis carry in their hearts for this coastal city.
To many people, she said, the landmarks portrayed in Hassan’s artworks carry many memories of their youth — their favorite childhood place, where they used to hang out in their teenage years, or even a place they used to pass by on their way to their loved ones’ old houses. “It’s amazing how memories connect people to places on such a deep level.”
The main theme of her collection is not solely romantic as much as it is soulful, and it encompasses romance, friendship, adventure, and even melancholy.