JEDDAH: Saudi coffee is being given a 21st-century twist as coffee shops in the Kingdom turn to flavors such as cardamom, saffron and ginger to spice up the traditional brew.
To promote signature Saudi coffee, baristas are adapting beverages such as frappuccinos and lattes to incorporate these time-honored flavors.
Queeze Cafe in Jeddah has been serving an item called Arabiato, which can be consumed hot or cold, and combines the traditional taste of cardamom in a modern drink.
“Ever since we opened the cafe, customers have really liked it and revisited plenty of times because of it,” 26-year-old Saudi barista and store manager Mohammed Al-Sharafi told Arab News.
“Saudis’ palates are sophisticated from coffees to desserts,” he said. “I have seven years of experience in this field and I’ve noticed every time I receive feedback that customers pay close attention to details.”
Al-Sharafi said that most customers look for a wide variety of choices on the menu, adding that there is great potential for coffee shops to get creative with their flavors.
“It will add to the customers’ experience and allow us to have a variety of Saudi coffee (flavors). Most Saudis or customers that visit us ask if there is an option similar to Saudi coffee and they really enjoy this experience,” he said.
“There is huge potential to really get creative in the field of Saudi coffee blends.”
Aside from coffee, the cafe offers French toast with a Saudi twist, using cardamom.
“It’s your usual classic French toast, but we got creative and added cardamom. This addition was a positive one and people really liked it,” Al-Sharafi said.
“Customers here usually order the Arabiato with our French toast which is quite a luxurious order. That’s what makes us unique.”
At Malaga Speciality Coffee, another cafe in Jeddah, 22-year-old barista and student Abdulelah Al-Ghamdi described the shop’s signature drink, called Al-Andalusi, which also includes cardamom.
“It is made up of sweet coffee, cardamom, a prominent Saudi flavor, and is served hot or cold,” he said.
“These flavors are rarely found in coffee shops, and not every cafe offers such options,” he said. “Saudi heritage and its flavors are grand and majestic.”
Al-Ghamdi said that the Saudi taste for luxury does not stop at how food and beverages are served and prepared, but extends into all areas of hospitality.
“It’s not only in the scope of coffee and food, it’s everything about Saudi culture — our hospitality and customs like preparing oud and bakhoor (frankincense); even these preparations are luxurious,” he said.
Malaga is planning to introduce date cake to the menu as it adds more Saudi flavors to its culinary creations.
Judy Ali, communication manager at Meraki, said that the coffee shop served a special blend during Jeddah Season.
“We offered our signature latte, which is composed of date molasses, cardamom cream and ginger powder,” she said.
Ali said that the significance of such flavors can be traced back in time.
“Because of our rich culture and history, Saudi Arabia is a destination for Muslims from all around the world, and it adds to the Saudi culture, which shows through our diverse flavors,” she said.
“We were able to integrate our known Saudi flavors and specialty coffee to deliver a unique experience for our customers.”