CEO, Saudi Coffee Company
"Saudi Coffee Company’s mission is to uplift the local coffee production, from farming to the final product."
Talks to Khalid Abutheeb, CEO of Saudi Coffee Company, about the company’s mission, coffee cultivation, and objectives for 2024.
Can you elaborate on Saudi Coffee Company’s mission and vision regarding establishing itself locally and internationally?
Saudi Coffee Company’s mission is to uplift local coffee production, starting from farming up to the final product. Through coffee, we aim to celebrate and promote the heritage of Saudi Arabia. Therefore, we want to expand the coffee industry to support the Saudi economy and GDP growth. This is achievable by bringing global know-how to local coffee manufacturers and creating more jobs for Saudi citizens. We want to empower local farmers, increase their production, and boost the efficiency of coffee production. Currently, Saudi Arabia produces approximately 300-400 tonnes of Arabica beans, and our goal is to increase it to 2,500 tonnes.
As custodians of Arabica coffee, how does Saudi Coffee Company ensure excellence in the cultivation and production of coffee?
We are focused on uplifting the full coffee value chain in Saudi Arabia, via enhancing the local knowledge and practices in sustainable farming. We want to educate farmers with the latest technology and procedures, via the Saudi Coffee Company Academy which provides workshops on coffee planting and harvesting to the processing and preparation of the final product. We aim to teach the farmers the different ways to improve and diversify their coffee offerings. We have established a state-of-the-art factory where we can produce different products and SKUs. We work with large international companies to induce more technological knowledge transfer to Saudi Arabia. In efforts to modernize the local coffee sector, Saudi Coffee Company plans to invest almost SAR 1.2 billion in the next 10 years to improve all aspects related to the industry.
How do you work to cement your brand and the reputation of Saudi coffee production?
The strategic positioning of Saudi coffee beans revolves around three pillars: partnerships, sustainable practices, and global expansion. For partnerships, we are working on extensive collaborations, locally and globally. We are working with Saudi governmental entities to ensure alignment of objectives, and to empower the local farmers through contract farming. By supervising and purchasing their yields, we support the farmers’ coffee production while maintaining quality control. For sustainable measures, we are ensuring the adoption of environmentally friendly processes and efficient resource management practices across the different farms, both powered and supervised by the Saudi Coffee Company. This is in line with Vision 2030, to ensure sustainability across the different thriving sectors in the Kingdom. For global expansion, we aspire to engage with international brands and tap into their expertise while utilizing their knowledge of farming practices to enhance local coffee production. Simultaneously, Saudi Coffee Company is focused on R&D to foster product diversification and quality enhancement. We are developing strategic partnerships that will enrich our capabilities and local supply chains while strengthening our R&D efforts. On another note, recognizing the challenge of meeting growing coffee demands globally, we aim to become a regional hub, managing and balancing supply and demand. The launch of our new brand, JAZEAN, embodies our Saudi culture and coffee heritage. With plans to expand stores globally, promoting our Saudi heritage across the world, we will solidify our global presence. We aim to also develop international collaborations where Saudi beans are used in mix with international beans abroad, to further reinforce our global footprint. At Saudi Coffee Company, innovation drives us our expansion strategy, so the R&D team diligently explores new products using Arabica coffee, paving the way for exports.
How is the company actively supporting local communities and SMEs?
We are enablers of small and medium businesses, aiming to support their growth. We identify the market challenges then help them overcome these. We work on raising awareness on the local opportunities, as farmers are now able to produce quality coffee, sustainably. At the Saudi Coffee Company Academy, we have curated a program for farmers to expand their knowledge in seedlings, fertilizers, and overall cultivation. Working on uplifting the agricultural end of the Saudi coffee production will instill trust in the local production, and encourage Saudi entrepreneurs to build their coffee businesses. In this phase, we will also help them in marketing their products to enhance their exposure and sales.
What key objectives does Saudi Coffee Company aim to achieve by the end of 2024?
We have achieved significant milestones in 2023, including launching the first local model farm, the coffee academy, and our brand JAZEAN – launching its flagship café in Riyadh. Therefore, we are ambitious and eager to achieve more in 2024. We aspire to lead the move in expanding coffee agriculture beyond Jazan, aiming to make the south of Saudi Arabia a coffee hub. Our focus is set on the extension of sustainable solutions for larger farms and the reduction of production costs. Perfecting the Saudi coffee processing center is pivotal to the assurance of quality control, which inherently affects the Saudi coffee beans’ grading and pricing. Within nine months, our state-of-the-art factory will also support packaging, elevating the local coffee industry. We aspire to become globally recognized as the “home of Arabica” showcasing Saudi hospitality, and inviting the world to share our vision for progress through coffee.