The Roasting House SA is a specialty coffee roaster and brewing equipment provider. The company was one of Saudi Arabia’s first specialty coffee roasters, and has played an important role in introducing Saudi consumers to coffees from around the world, including Central America.
To learn more, we spoke with Osamah Alawamm, the founder and Managing Director of The Roasting House and a Virtual PRF Panelist. He told us about the growing Saudi Arabian coffee scene; read on to better understand this market and its potential.
1. HOW HAS CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR CHANGED IN THE SAUDI ARABIAN COFFEE SECTOR OVER THE LAST DECADE?
The consumer palate and general preferences have definitely changed over the last decade. Things originated with enjoying the daily routine of Arabic coffee and have evolved to riding the “specialty coffee wave”.
The Kingdom is witnessing huge growth in its coffee industry, among other sectors, and this is reflected in the way quality is perceived and feedback is shared. It calls for more care and attention in general.
2. DO SAUDI ARABIAN CONSUMERS HAVE A PREFERENCE FOR A PARTICULAR FLAVOUR PROFILE OR STYLE? IF SO, WHAT IS IT?
Ethiopian naturals are the most sought-after coffee selection for sure. However, there’s an ever-growing demand for more diversity, including coffee from Honduras.
We’ve been blessed to have a few selections from Honduras over the past few years since my visit in 2015, and we will continue to provide more from different regions. We have just launched a new seasonal lot from a single estate in Opalaca, grown by Juan Carlos, and it’s been a great success so far.
3. HOW DOES THE ROASTING HOUSE PROMOTE ITS RELATIONSHIPS WITH PRODUCERS?
The Roasting House always aims to build bridges between producers and consumers. This includes things like sharing the story behind each coffee and discussing what makes it special.
We share details about the effort producers put in at their farms and in their communities, and provide input on better farming techniques to drive a sustainable future.
One of our most successful and long-standing relationships is with coffee producers in Colombia. The exporters we work with help develop farmers’ knowledge, conduct training sessions aimed at improving the quality & consistency of the coffee, and work on a shared value structure that helps producers to earn more for their crop.
In better travel circumstances we would also visit to meet them in person, promote their work back at home through our social media channels, and additionally get to know more producers through fantastic events like the Producer & Roaster Forum.
We are always keen on creating long-term relationships with producers. We make consumers feel proud about not just buying great coffee, but also that they’re doing their bit to make a difference for these producers, their communities, and the environment.
4. HOW DO YOU THINK THE SPECIALTY COFFEE INDUSTRY WILL CHANGE IN THE NEXT TEN YEARS?
2020 was a game changer for the specialty coffee sector. More people started to brew at home and pay attention to the flavours they could get from their coffee experience.
This will likely change how consumers expect their coffee at hospitality businesses in the future. There will be more demand for consistency, better flavours, more variety, and a more rewarding “journey”.
In addition to this, we have seen a noticeable demand for experimental processing techniques like anaerobic fermentation and carbonic maceration etc. These don’t necessarily overshadow the demand for a great washed coffee or a complex natural, I do see this demand continuing to increase.
5. YOU SUPPLY BOTH ROASTED COFFEE AND EQUIPMENT ACROSS THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA. PLEASE TELL US MORE ABOUT THE DIFFERENT ARMS OF YOUR BUSINESS, AND YOUR MISSION AS A COMPANY.
Before we got started, we recorded our vision and mission and decided we would have a key focus on spreading specialty coffee culture.
We felt the best way to do this would be to work with our partners across the supply chain in both directions, as sellers and buyers. We chose a varied number of producers who had a story to tell, top equipment manufacturers to partner with, and opened our doors to those who can contribute to this value chain and share that culture with us.
Today, we supply coffee and some of our equipment across Saudi Arabia as well as the GCC, either directly to consumers or through partners who share our vision. We feel knowledge is key, and always try to be present on social media to share information that adds value for everyone, such as tips on how to brew better coffee.
We are also opening a knowledge, quality, and cupping centre in our roastery, where we can develop and share recipes, brewing techniques, and new products. We want this to be a place where every item can be made available for sale, either through direct retail or to a partner café, hotel, or restaurant. We want to act as a one-stop-shop for new and existing businesses.
6. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE OF THE COFFEE INDUSTRY HOLDS?
It was not all doom and gloom, but 2020 was a wake-up call. It was a reminder that key elements of the coffee industry are extremely sensitive, particularly the production side.
I believe the future of coffee is going to get brighter and more promising. However, this will only happen if we pay careful attention to these elements, collectively aiming to improve and strengthen them in the name of sustainability.
I also feel the future of coffee will benefit from the use of technology & the Internet of Things (IoT). These will elevate the experience of both the barista and the customer. Smart bars will become a global standard, and consumers will drink coffee brewed with more precision and consistency than ever.
Credits: The Roasting House SA