Emirati Coffee, the UAE’s special coffee roastery, is implementing a 50/50 retail/food service strategy after online retail sales skyrocketed during the pandemic. In addition, the company is figuring out ways to expand into China and Saudi Arabia, where the coffee markets are considered to have large potential. 

Before the pandemic, 90% of Emirati Coffee’s business was wholesale. In addition to serving over 150 cafes and coffee chains in the UAE as well as internationally, the roastery also serves 10% of its customer base with retail, the first local vertically integrated coffee company in the UAE. 

Saudi Arabia’s coffee market is superior to that of the UAE, as cafes in Saudi are open 24 hours

Mohamed Ali AlMadfai, CEO of Emirati Coffee, said they were 100% reliant on retail during the pandemic. The company’s online sales went up by 3,135% last year, causing them to rethink its strategy for the upcoming years and focus more on retail channels like opening its own store soon. According to Madfai:

With restrictions now easing, we are trying to maintain a 50/50 balance because we recognise the need for both B2B and B2C. We will not be competing with our cafe customers, we will be opening a boutique to sell our coffee beans, instant coffee, exclusive additions and capsules.

Emirati Coffee has multiple expansion plans. According to AlMadfai, Saudi Arabia’s coffee market is superior to that of the UAE, as cafes in Saudi are open 24 hours and people are drinking coffee even in the wee hours of the night. (ed. Having spent time in coffee shops in Riyadh, I think it’s true that the country is embracing the culture, with some amazing new coffee shops, but although some might be open round the clock, you should expect to be kicked out unexpectedly throughout the day, when it’s prayer time). 

The company has been eyeing Asia and North Africa for expansion before the pandemic, in hopes of gaining a first-mover advantage, but as the situation changed, so did their plans. However, China seems to still be in the company’s future objectives. AlMadfai stated:

We believe that the Chinese consumer and the UAE consumer are not very far away from each other. We both share very similar palates and have a sweet tooth. Our coffee is very popular within the Middle East, and therefore we believe that it will be very popular within the Chinese millennial generation.

We believe that our brand will be very successful in China because a lot of Chinese tourists when they visit UAE, they visit our roaster, and are aware of our products and enjoy them.

Under the Knowhere brand, the company plans to open a cafe and, in the next two years, a roastery, to further grow distribution. 

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