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Rise of cafés in the region

Filed on December 13, 2017
Rise of cafés in the region
New hospitality trends and expanding tourism are acting as catalysts in boosting the industry

The UAE boasts of a population that is young, diverse and affluent, and coffee consumption is gaining popularity


Consumption of tea and coffee has more to do with culture, than any specific taste bud. They are supposed to be the most consumed beverages worldwide, and with modernisation have evolved a perfect aura and ambience of their own. It is rightly said that love for coffee or tea is not delusional. Rather it is all about choice and the perfection with which the hot and cold beverage is served. The traditional view that tea and coffee are household beverages has come a long way. It has now attained the status of a perfectionist drink with specific tastes and blends. It is also an early morning beverage taken to kick-start the day. But now it is more of a medium for conversations - from casual and leisurely to strictly business. Gone are the days when coffee shops used to be literary corners for discussion and popular participation in the community. It has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry, with specialty coffee and tea riding high on its popularity. 

The UAE has attained a unique status as the 'Melbourne' of the Middle East by boasting a unique coffee and tea consumption culture with a blend of Arabian aura. The region consumes around seven billion dollars of coffee per annum, and more brands are pouring in. So is the case with tea consumption. Specialty tea or the premium tea segment has seen substantial growth year-on-year. This category generally refers to tea of high quality such as flavoured varieties (Earl Grey), scented ones (Jasmine), and various spiced teas. According to the Dubai International Coffee and Tea Festival, over 19,000 kg of tea is consumed across the UAE daily. It is estimated that the average consumption of coffee in the UAE is 3.5 kg per head, per annum. Statistics say $630 million are spent per annum on coffee in the UAE.

The country is home to more than 4,000 cafés. With around six million cups consumed per day at an average, changing lifestyle, new hospitality trends and expanding tourism are acting as catalysts in boosting the industry. The demand for specialty coffee is increasing within the UAE with more and more people buying coffee based on a more informed choice, thanks to the awareness spread by roasters and baristas. In other words, the beverage is a tailor-made product to improve the mood and customary details.

What makes the UAE so special? The reason is simple: it boasts of a population that is young, diverse and affluent. It is open to new cultures and trends, and is conscious of its specifications. Food and lifestyle are in for a change, and UAE residents embrace all that comes their way with pride and openness. Moreover, cost-effectiveness is the key for coffee and tea to gain popularity in the country, and people from more than 200 nationalities are unanimous in choosing it as their preferred beverage. Affordability is another aspect that has made it a popular beverage for the country's vast demographic range of consumers.

The UAE's tea and coffee industry is on the move and new outlets with divergent tastes are coming up. Coffee is specifically gaining popularity among young and those who want to taste it in a perfect environment. This has made room for new restaurants and coffee outlets everywhere. The UAE houses some of the globally-recognised coffee brands and numerous local operators have contributed to the vibrancy of the coffee and tea business in the region. 

At the same time, the industry is being swept by a stream of new trends, mainly influenced by the latest technology and ever-evolving consumer tastes and preferences. Overall improvement in the quality of coffee and tea has continued due to discovery of high-end products, leafs and beans from various markets worldwide. From South America to Africa and Asia, the produce is startling and with a wide variety of flavours. Cold-brewed coffee remains popular among aficionados. Coffee brewing is said to deepen the flavour and smoothen out unwanted acidity and bitterness. One of the benefits of cold brewing is that the chemical process does not change, hence a person can drink cold brew and experience the same taste days later. 

More and more coffee lovers are also sampling nitro coffee. Nitro coffee is cold-brewed coffee infused with nitrogen gas, which is released through a pressurised valve. This version is crispier and slightly sweeter. Similarly, artisan or gourmet coffee is the most popular obtained from single-bean and lighter roasts. Unlike blended coffee sourced from multiple regions, specialty coffee is tied to a specific country, region, variety and farm, and is gaining popularity in the UAE. 

The UAE, where coffee and tea, especially gahwa, has been an integral part of local tradition and is customarily served as a welcome drink, is broadening its horizons in this beverage industry. While coffee remains a highly demanded beverage among UAE consumers, the growing appeal for specialty coffee in the country is noteworthy. It is now associated with fine dining experience apart from traditional fast food culture. 

The UAE's evolving café culture has drawn the common and the prosperous together. The cafés not only offer a specific taste, but also provide a comfortable and convenient ambience. The crystalline compound is constantly improving its module and flavour to match growing consumer demand and competition. 

- mehkri@khaleejtimes.com 

Benefits of coffee  

- Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease

- Reduces risk of cancers

- Improves metabolic health (combats diabetes, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and weight gain) 

- Reduces risk of liver disorders (e.g. non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cirrhosis) 

- Improves gastrointestinal conditions 

- Reduces risk of neurological disorders (e.g. Alzheimer's disease, dementia, cognitive function/decline and mental health) 

Source: Institute of Food Technologists

author

Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri

Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri is a print media journalist for more than 24 years, presently working as Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times. Earlier, he was Foreign Editor, Dawn, and a contributor to several Indian news resources. A post-graduate in International Relations, his area of interest is world affairs, economy and societal trends.





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