By Francis Mwema, February 3, 2023, International Trade Centre Alliance for Action partners exhibited at World of Coffee Dubai 2023 to build commercial spaces for its global coffee network.
Specialty coffee is growing in the Middle East, positioning Dubai as a rising hub for African coffee. At a crossroads between Africa and Europe, Dubai has capital to invest and a fast-growing regional coffee consumption.
According to industry reports, the Middle East and Africa coffee market is projected to grow by 7.5% a year through 2027.
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), tastes are shifting from traditional coffee shops to modern specialty spaces that appeal to a new generation of coffee drinkers.
Gold Coast Roasters (GCR) is a rising Ghanaian specialty brand, one of many new African brands seeking to own, elevate and commercialize local coffee on their own terms.
For Hannah Quashie, director of GCR, attending World of Coffee in Dubai was a strategic step.
“We’re constantly looking for ways to reach a greater market without compromising on quality and African brand messaging. At WOC Dubai, we identified potential partnerships with UK and Saudi-based business who are keen to stock coffee from the continent and project African brands,” she said.
Coffee professionals from the Middle East and beyond came together for the second edition of World of Coffee Dubai. Over 12,000 visitors representing 48 countries attended the show, where over 180 exhibitors presented their latest products and services.
The event included cupping sessions, a Brew Bar, Roaster Village lectures, workshops, and the Specialty Coffee Association UAE’s National Barista Championship.
Leveraging partnerships to create opportunities
ITC selected 10 participants from four African countries from across its Alliances for Action sustainable agribusiness projects to take part in the event.
These included World of Eswatini Coffee from Eswatini; Asili Coffee, Gold Coast Roasters and Kawa Moka from Ghana; and five Ethiopian coffee farmer cooperatives.
They were guided by a UAE sales advisor and Q-grader Cecilia Sanada who also led coffee cuppings and provided expert brewing services. Q-graders like Sanada are licensed professionals who score the quality of coffees. The top-notch coffees were served with state-of-the-art machines, through partnerships with cutting-edge equipment brands Tone Swiss and Speciality Batch.
Three days of jam-packed activities
The event was buzzing with activity and the ITC stand was no exception. Cupping sessions and business meetings allowed African and Latin American producers to connect with potential buyers and others in the industry.
The exchange went both ways, as the coffee producers walked participants through their coffees, but also garnered some valuable feedback.
“I learned that power in coffee is quantity. If you want to supply the world, you must have good quality coffee, but also the capacity to produce at scale. In Eswatini, farmers must unite for coffee production,” said Patrick Du Pont from Eswatini Coffee.
For the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, the take-away was that roasters tend to source their coffees from importers, rather than directly from producers, which will have a big effect on their networking strategy.
Lectures and workshops were in abundance on diverse themes.
Beyond the show floor
In Dubai, ITC took participants on a market tour to visit top UAE roasters and coffee businesses, an opportunity to connect with the local market and also to learn from some of the best.
The Coffee Lab, Speciality Batch Roastery, Black Coffee by Café Younes and the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre were some of the trip’s highlights.
Participants returned home feeling inspired, motivated and ready to scale up and strategies in 2023.