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JEDDAH: Coffee fans, investors, universities, and business executives attended a specialist exhibition in Jeddah on Saturday and Sunday.

The Chocolate and Coffee Exhibition also hosted the Latte Art Championship, which started with 30 contestants on Saturday each completing their coffee-based creation in 10 minutes and presenting their best efforts to experts.

Sunday brought together the final 10 competitors, with the winner due to be announced tonight.

Head judge and certified trainer from the Specialty Coffee Association, Fahad Al-Thubyani, said the goal of the competition was to encourage the baristas to develop their skills in foam art.

“To present a beautiful looking cup of coffee and, at the same time, teach them not to waste milk while creating art,” he told Arab News, adding that the Ministry of Culture’s decision to dub 2022 as the “Year of Saudi Coffee” was good news for the sector.

“For us in the coffee market, this decision to name this year as the Year of Saudi Coffee — the industry has been growing since 2018, and we (the coffee sector) are currently one of the biggest markets that are growing around the world,” Al-Thubyani said. “The Ministry of Culture’s decision came at the right time, and we are expanding in this field. We’ve got great talent and experience in this market, and are competitive on an international scale.”

Filipino visual judge Phillip Solera applauded Saudi baristas’ deep interest in coffee-making.

“Now there are lots of Saudi baristas who are talented and I feel that they are eager to learn more and to gain more knowledge about specialty coffee, and now they are good in latte art,” Solera told Arab News. “As a visual judge, we will see the appearance of the pattern of the latte art, the difficulties, the harmony, the size, the texture contrast and colors, the overall appeal of the coffee.”

Najeeb Jiddawi, the expo’s media center manager, said the exhibition was aligned with the ministry’s decision to name 2022 as the Saudi Year of Coffee.

“We were very keen to bring together coffee investors, businessmen, exporters, makers, and visitors,” he told Arab News. “This is to exchange expertise, information, in addition to inviting entities from the education sector such as King Abdulaziz University and Jeddah University to present them with the most significant items from this industry.”

Saudi contestant Suhail Al-Badrani was 2021’s latte art winner in Madinah and has been drawing with foam for three years.

He developed an interest in coffee-making during lockdown.

“It started as a hobby at home, but then I branched out and entered the coffee-making sector,” he told Arab News. “I developed myself a lot in this and received international accreditation, and then I entered a championship last year and won first place. Hopefully, this will be my second time. The Ministry of Culture’s interest in this field gave people like me the boost I need to develop myself further.”

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