Barns Coffee
Mohamedl Al Zain, CEO of Barns Coffee Image Credit: Supplied

Mohamed Al Zain, CEO of Barns Coffee, recently addressed the Barns Café franchise meeting in Jeddah that brought together franchisees from across the country. This two-day event was filled with engaging presentations, insightful panel discussions, notable guest speakers, and valuable networking opportunities, underscoring the brand's commitment to its franchise system.

The meeting commenced with an exclusive factory visit, offering franchisees a unique opportunity to delve into the coffee production process. This educational tour covered everything from roasting and grinding beans to packaging, highlighting the diverse range of coffee beans and their contribution to the myriad flavors and aromas that Barns Café is known for.

Day two of the event was equally engaging, featuring discussions led by Barns' Leadership team on the state of the company. Franchisees received comprehensive insights from department leaders who shared relevant data and initiatives making significant impacts. The agenda also included guest speakers addressing timely industry topics, fostering an environment of learning and growth.

A major highlight of the meeting was the Barns Franchisee Awards ceremony, which celebrated outstanding franchise operators in various categories. These awards recognized the exceptional achievements and contributions of franchisees to the Barns Café brand, further motivating the entire network.

The awakening of Saudi Arabia's coffee culture

Over the past decade, Saudi Arabia has witnessed a remarkable awakening of its coffee culture. With an increasing number of specialty coffee shops, a burgeoning interest in artisanal coffee, and a growing community of coffee enthusiasts, the Kingdom has undeniably become a central player in the global coffee industry.

In a bold and visionary statement, Mohamed Al Zain, the CEO of Barns Coffee, stated Saudi Arabia as the "Coffee Capital of the Middle East." This proclamation comes as a testament to the rapid evolution of coffee culture within the Kingdom, positioning Saudi Arabia as a global hub for coffee enthusiasts and connoisseurs.

According to Al Zain, this transformation can be attributed to several key factors, all of which have contributed to Saudi Arabia's newfound status as the "Coffee Capital" of the Middle East.

Coffee in Saudi culture: A timeless tradition

One of the fundamental reasons behind this transformation is the deeply rooted appreciation for coffee within Saudi Arabian culture. Coffee has played an integral role in Saudi hospitality for centuries. The traditional Arabic coffee ritual, involving the preparation and serving of Arabic coffee, serves as a symbol of warmth, generosity, and tradition. It is an essential part of welcoming guests and forging connections, reflecting the rich heritage of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabian coffee, also known as "Gahwa," is prepared by boiling ground coffee beans on the stove and adding some spices such as cloves and cardamom. It is served in a golden dallah (a traditional Arabian coffee pot) and poured into small handle-less cups. The host continues pouring the coffee as long as the guest desires.

The Saudi people's love for coffee is evident in their daily lives, from the familiar aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting through homes to the bustling coffeehouses where friends and colleagues gather for conversations over a cup of the rich, aromatic brew. Coffee, in its various forms, has become a cherished aspect of Saudi culture, and this cultural connection has significantly contributed to the Kingdom's emergence as a coffee powerhouse. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), launched Saudi Coffee Company in May 2022 – which is investing $319 million over the next ten years to support the growth of the national coffee industry – from production to consumption.

The government is especially focused on developing arabica coffee production in the southern Jazan region, aiming to boost annual yields from 800 to 2,500 tonnes. Coffee from Saudi Arabia shares similar attributes with the highly-regarded Yemeni coffee, which is located on the other side of the border.

The role of Barns Coffee

Barns Coffee, a prominent player in the Saudi coffee industry, has been a catalyst in this coffee revolution. Founded on a commitment to providing premium coffee products and fostering a thriving coffee culture, Barns Coffee has played an instrumental role in reshaping the coffee landscape in Saudi Arabia.

Under the visionary leadership of Mohamed Al Zain, CEO of Barns Coffee, the company has set high standards in coffee sourcing, roasting, and education. Barns Coffee's dedication to sourcing the finest coffee beans from renowned coffee-growing regions, combined with its state-of-the-art roasting facilities, has positioned it as a leading name in the industry.

Barns Coffee stands out not only for its exceptional coffee products but also for its commitment to educating the public about the art and science of coffee. The company conducts workshops, seminars, and events that aim to raise awareness about coffee quality, brewing techniques, and the overall coffee experience.

Saudi Arabian Halal coffee chain Barn has announced international expansion plans and is targeting 1,000 stores globally by 2030. Founded in 1992 by the Al Amjaad Group, Barn’s currently operates more than 650 stores across Saudi Arabia.

The Jeddah-based company is planning to focus on drive-thru stores and smaller format sites, with initial international expansion likely to target fellow Middle East and Global markets. Al Amjaad Group CEO Mohamed Al-Zain also revealed that Barn’s would be planning to launch an initial public offering (IPO) this year, which would enable the public ‘to move from loyal customers to investors in the company’s success’.

Saudi coffee
Mohamed Al Zain addressing the Saudi Barns Café franchisees meet in Jeddah, KSA Image Credit: Supplied

Saudi Arabian Jeddah-based Al-Amjaad Group is renowned for its successful coffee business. Barns was established in 1992 as a homegrown specialty coffee brand. With a progressive company culture, Barns has become the largest and one of the oldest coffee shop businesses in Saudi Arabia. Al-Amjaad has adopted a franchising model to expand the reach of barns while maintaining full ownership of approximately 30 percent of its branches. This strategy has proven effective, with the number of barn branches growing from around 130 in 2018 to over 650 today, including more than 150 fully owned by Al-Amjaad.

Al Zain states, "Saudi Arabia's recognition as the 'Coffee Capital of the Middle East' is a testament to our passion for coffee and our commitment to fostering a vibrant coffee culture. We believe that this is just the beginning of our journey, and we look forward to further elevating Saudi Arabia's standing in the international coffee community."

Saudi Arabia's role in the global coffee arena

As Saudi Arabia continues to solidify its position as a coffee capital, the future outlook for the Kingdom's coffee scene is promising. The coffee culture is expected to flourish even further, with an increasing number of specialty coffee shops, innovative brewing methods, and an emphasis on sustainability in the coffee supply chain. In the year 2022, the number of branded coffee shop outlets in Saudi Arabia saw a significant increase of 18.5%, culminating in a total of 3,550 locations. This expansion signifies that Saudi Arabia holds a major 40% portion of the more than 8,800 branded coffee shops across the entire Middle East.

The Kingdom's coffee entrepreneurs and enthusiasts are poised to explore new horizons and create unique coffee experiences that resonate with both local and international audiences. Saudi Arabia's coffee journey is far from over, and it holds the potential to redefine the global coffee landscape.

Saudi Arabia's transformation into the "Coffee Capital of the Middle East" is a remarkable achievement that reflects the Kingdom's deep-rooted love for coffee, its embrace of specialty coffee culture, and the visionary leadership of industry pioneers like Mohamed Al Zain and Barns Coffee. With a bright future ahead, Saudi Arabia is set to redefine its role in the global coffee arena.