Specialty Coffee in Saudi Arabia

The State of Saudi Specialty Coffee

This is a frequently asked question that we get in various forms, sometimes in regards to pricing compared to local coffee available and sometimes in regards to roast style, in particular our blond roast.

To address this question, it is important to define Specialty Coffee.


According to SCAA:

Specialty coffee: The term "specialty coffee" refers to the highest-quality green coffee beans roasted to their greatest flavor potential by true craftspeople and then properly brewed to well-established SCAA developed standards. Specialty coffee in the green bean state can be defined as a coffee that has no defects and has a distinctive character in the cup, with a score of 80 or above when graded according to SCAA Standards.

According to SCAE:

Speciality coffee is defined as a crafted quality coffee-based beverage, which is judged by the consumer (in a limited marketplace at a given time) to have a unique quality, a distinct taste and personality different from, and superior to, the common coffee beverages offered. The beverage is based on beans that have been grown in an accurately defined area, and which meet the highest standards for green coffee and for its roasting, storage and brewing.

While Saudi Arabia has easy access to two of the best and most exotic coffee growing regions, Ethiopia and Yemen, there is little interest among importers in the quality control of the green beans in the processing stage, and later on in the storage phase. Historically, coffee was consumed with a variety of spices like cardamom which easily hides defects and may have been a necessity in the past due to extended transport. From repeated local coffee market visits, one can easily notices great coffee that has been dehydrated from bad storage conditions and high rate of defects.


Saudi Blond Coffee

Blond Coffee is an extremely light roast, past the drying phase, and well before first crack. It is is much lighter than a cupping roast or a Cinnamon roast. It can vary between yellow and orange, sometimes even light brown. When properly roast, is preserves the most sweetness of any roast style. However, it will display any defects in an intense way. This is one reason spices are added. When using specialty-grade green coffee, we have found that coffee drinkers will experience new layers of flavores and enhanced sweetness, without any defects. This is what we consider Saudi-style specialty coffee.


Saudi Specialty Coffee

Saudi coffee grown in Saudi Arabia: We are very optimistic about the potential of coffee grown in Saudi Arabia. The Jazan region have grown coffee for a long time, until recently replaced by gat crop. But coffee is still grown and rising steadily. In 2013, we have sampled some coffee from Jazan that scored well in the top 80's. The beans were extremely small, but loaded with flavor. Notes of honey and lime were dominant, and we have experienced no flavor taints. We are looking forward to introducing some of that coffee when available.