Ryan Godinho bought into the cafe culture as a teenager, when he worked in coffee shops in Australia to fund his studies.
The 29-year-old Indian-Australian is now the national coordinator for UAE World Coffee Events and director of the International Coffee and Tea Festival, which began in Dubai yesterday and runs until Friday.
What are the latest trends in coffee culture here?
A lot more coffee shops are roasting their own coffee. They get beans from green-bean coffee suppliers. At the International Coffee and Tea Festival, we will have some of them from places such as Ethiopia and Angola as well as from Europe. These suppliers can send beans in packages from 500 grams to 70 kilograms.
How is fair trade coffee doing?
A couple of roasters have dealt with fair trade coffee in the past as per the packaging, but I do not believe that they include this on packaging any more. The issue here [is] that there is no local governance or monitoring of fair trade produce.
How much of the market is dominated by the international brands?
Here, more than 80 per cent of the market is dominated by the international coffee chains, even though the number of brands is in double digits. Location-wise, no other place in the world has more coffee shops in malls than here. But chains have an advantage: they have consistency in quality and are accessible.
Where do the local Arabic coffee shops get their beans from?
The local roasters cater to the kahwa or Turkish coffee blend. We have 30 to 40 different coffee roasters in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The beans for the local coffee are grown in Yemen and are typically lightly roasted here or in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Some of the coffee roasted here is being exported. The independent coffee stores look for the most efficient ways to get coffee. A lot of Italian, European and American coffee comes here.
What is happening with coffee consumption?
In the UAE, it has grown by 20 per cent per capita year on year. In 2009-2010, it was 3.8kg per capita and now it is 4.4kg per capita.
How much in business deals was discussed last year at the event? How much do you expect this year?
Last year's show did well for small business owners and start-up businesses. This continues to be a growth area for the market, which shifts the focus away from franchises into speciality and neighbourhood cafes. We expect to triple the value of deals this year. There will be around 90 brands, which is nine times the exhibitors than last year.