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CommunityFoodCoffee culture and cultured coffee

Coffee culture has exploded all around the world and nowhere more than the UAE. Coffee drinkers are also becoming ever more discerning as the market for specialty coffee continues to grow.
Anna Pukas Anna PukasMarch 3, 20216 min
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RAW coffee mainPhoto courtesy Raw Coffee

Coffee is the world’s favorite pick-me-up. Around two billion cups of it are drunk every day, and the UAE consumes twice as much coffee as any of its Gulf neighbors.

Thirteen years ago New Zealanders Matt Toogood and Kim Thompson founded Raw Coffee, the first roastery in the Middle East. Raw Coffee trades directly with farmers and producers in Africa, South America and Asia, ensuring that the coffee imported into the UAE is top quality but also that those who grow it get paid a fair price for it.

Along the way they have helped introduce more efficient farming methods to increase yield — and therefore income — for the farmers. In addition to winning several international awards, Raw Coffee is also a company on the move, recently announcing their expanded operations with news of delivery across the GCC. The move came from consumer demand outside the UAE, and online sales that have jumped 70 percent in the last 23 months.

Raw Coffee
Raw Coffee founders Matt Toogood and Kim Thompson/Image courtesy Raw Coffee

Livehealthy paid a visit to the bustling Raw Coffee roastery in Dubai’s Al Quoz and, over a cup of cold brew, gleaned some expert insight into this universally popular drink from two of the country’s top coffee fanatics.

  • Everyone knows that coffee contains caffeine, but the higher the quality of the coffee, the lower the caffeine count.
  • Coffee is almost universally an organic product. It mostly grows in developing countries and 95 percent of coffee is farmed organically, mostly because growers cannot afford the cost of chemicals to put into the soil. So there’s no need to pay more for coffee with an organic label.
  • It takes four years to get a decent crop from a coffee tree.
  • Specialty coffee and commercial-grade or commodity coffee both grow on the same tree. The difference comes in the way the crop is processed after picking. Like grapes, the quality and taste of the coffee can be affected by the angle of the slope where the trees are growing and how much sun they get.
  • A really good quality coffee, drunk without milk, should already taste sweet.
  • Coffee beans are at their best around two weeks after roasting, although some types of coffee are left for six weeks.
  • Coffee should be made within two minutes of grinding the beans.
  • Coffee is good for you. It contains antioxidants and can promote better blood flow, thereby improving alertness. Studies have shown coffee is a good deterrent against dementia and has been linked to a lower relative risk of liver, bowel, breast and prostate cancers.
  • If you drink it without adding sugar or syrups or fatty milk, it has only nine calories a cup.
  • Rather than buying a flashy coffee machine, Matt and Kim strongly recommend investing in a good grinder instead. “There are some good quality grinders on the market which are not expensive,” says Kim.
  • Coffee pods might be convenient but the coffee inside is not fresh and they contain less than the optimum amount of coffee you need, so you are actually paying twice as much as you would pay for premium coffee to use in a cafetiere. Plus, the environmental impact of all those aluminum pods is huge.

Matt Toogood and Kim Thompson, founders of Raw Coffee, were guests on the Livehealthy podcast on March 3, 2021 

Anna Pukas

Anna Pukas

Anna Pukas has reported from all over the world as a foreign correspondent for British media. She is now an editor based in Abu Dhabi.