I can’t think of a wonderful way to start 2023 than attending a full-blown coffee event in my city, Dubai. This was the second edition of the World of Coffee (WOC) event in Dubai but there was no comparison to the 2022 edition, as the 2023 was on a much bigger scale.. perhaps about 6-7 times the size. Kudos to Khalid Mulla (president of SCA UAE) and the top brass of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), whose president Yannis Apostolopoulos, attended too.
However, it wasn’t just about the size of the venue but the buzz too, created by coffee geeks, like moi who crave learning, talking and speaking about coffee but to be usurped in an environment where you got to witness coffee professionals who work hard to ensure you enjoy your daily brew wherever you are in the World, share their passion and love for the bean. So, what else?
We had the latest tech on display from the espresso machine kings like La Marzocco, Victoria Arduino, Synesso, Slayer, Rocket and more –
We had other equipment highlighting the latest tech to roast, sort, filter brew and store coffee – we had coffee from coffee roasters not just from the GCC region but from India (Subko, Blue Tokai), Australia (Stitch Coffee) and Denmark (April) too.
We had the inventor of Cafec showing us how to brew coffee on his invention differently from what I had seen previously.
There were also talks on all aspects of coffee and I got to meet famous coffee podcaster, Lee Safar too. Dubai powerhouse, DMCC had a large booth showcasing their service offerings from a business perspective and their head, Saeed gave Naveed and I lovely gifts.
We had award winning coffee growers, coffee art, young baristi serving coffee from Panama, other coffee growing regions showcasing their coffee, UK and European coffee specialist – a special evening hosted by Garfield of Mokha 1450, where I met former WBC champ, Stephen Morrissey – I wrote about him here in 2008…
The list goes on and I met too many people that I won’t list so as not to offend anyone, BUT it was all about coffee, coffee, coffee – the title of my Instagram post that went viral. However, a major first was the UAE National Barista Championship, which was won by Mariam Erin, now of Cosmic Garden Coffee. I wrote about about her here when she was the UAE coffee brewers champ.
Organised across three days, I went twice with fellow coffee nerd, Naveed (blogger) and met other coffee geeks too – pic at the top.
Leaving my palate free for both days I ensured that I often started with an espresso-based milk drink – after all there were tons of people offering to make you free coffee using the Victoria Arduino Eagle One (I guess they sponsored the event). On my first day, I have to confess I lost count on how many coffees I tried – having been coffee fatigued on day One, I promised not to be drowned in coffee again on day Two but although I know I was a bit more reserved, I still lost count.
WOC was held in the venue of all Dubai venues, the World Trade Centre, which was apt for one of the first major events of the year. You could easily get lost and in fact there were few people I had wanted to meet and some booths that I wanted to visit that I found out were there after the event, but such is life.
Nevertheless, it was good to hang out with Naveed, talk coffee and then veer off to learn more about coffee from other specialists. It got me thinking about how far the coffee industry has gotten in the last 10-15 years since I fell in love with it. Back then, the focus was on the God Shot of expresso brilliance – talk about filter coffee let alone single origin was completely alien as filter methods like the aeropress or Hario V60 were not either invented or ignored – it was all about espresso and batch brew machines.
Now in 2023, even I was completely blown away by the type of coffee equipment not just for commercial outfits but for the home too. There are now so many options that I must confess, would be very overwhelming for a newbie or even someone that wants to start. Perhaps next year they could hold on the first day, a guide to brewing coffee at home, where the manufacturers display some of the items to break you in gently into brewing coffee based of course on your budget.
Other topics worth venturing in may be to do with sustainability – where climate change will affect how coffee is grown and eventually coffee farmers and all those that depend on it, for their livelihoods. I’m really passionate about this and plan to get involved somehow, so anyone reading this that has ideas, please send me a message.
As I sign off, I was touched by how some visitors to Dubai and the GCC in general were amazed by the quality of coffee on offer in the region. Again, I recall coming to Dubai many times before I moved here in 2020 and it wasn’t until Raw Coffee started about 10 years back did specialty coffee start its momentum – to see it get adopted so quickly and to see how people have become passionate about it, obviously brings a smile to my face and a warm comfort for my palate as I’ve always wanted to live a in a coffee focused city.
So, don’t wait until WOC 2024, visit Dubai not just for the sun, beaches, shopping and amazing buildings, but for the coffee too.