The announcement of the inaugural Gahwa Championships, to be held in Abu Dhabi in December, inspired hundreds of applications from Gahwa artisans of different nationalities around the world.
Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) to celebrate Gahwa (Arabic coffee) and its special place in the heritage of the region, the championships will coincide with the premier F&B and hospitality fair, SIAL Middle East 2019.
DCT Abu Dhabi received 380 applications from GCC states and beyond. Up to 40 per cent of applicants were from the United Arab Emirates, with 27 per cent from Saudi Arabia. The remainder were from other countries in the GCC, the Levant, Africa and Asia. Just over one-third of the applications were from female candidates.
The majority of applications (78 per cent) were for the two categories of the Sane’ Al Gahwa Championships: Light Roast & Medium/Dark Roast.
A further 16 per cent applied for the Light and Medium/Dark categories of the Gahwa Roaster Award, which will evaluate contestants’ roasting skills through blind tastings by a panel of judges. The judges will examine the aroma, flavour, body, acidity, sweetness, balance and aftertaste of the roasted coffee beans.
The remaining six per cent of applicants entered the Gahwa Beverage Concept Award. This competition is for the finest and most innovative hot or cold Gahwa-based beverage concept, with contestants judged on taste, technique, originality and creativity.
Registration for the Championships has now closed. The top scorers, based on the registration form questionnaire, advanced to an assessment interview, designed by a panel of coffee competition specialists, roasting and heritage experts.
The initial selection stage comprised a detailed review of the online applications, followed by telephone interviews, during which candidates were assessed on specific criteria in each of the Championship categories, such as: knowledge of traditional roasting practices and tools; coffee origins and quality; Gahwa heritage, etiquette and brewing techniques; and creativity in Gahwa concept recipes.
Applicants for the Sane’ Al Gahwa Championships were assessed on the following:
- Knowledge of Gahwa heritage
- Knowledge of Gahwa etiquette
- Knowledge of traditional methods of roasting, brewing and serving Gahwa
Applicants for the Gahwa Roaster Awards were assessed on the following:
- Knowledge of traditional roasting tools and techniques
- Knowledge of coffee origins, quality and defects
Applicants for the Gahwa Beverage Concept Award were assessed on the following:
- Techniques employed in their recipes
- Inspiration of Gahwa
The Championships’ Judging Panel features experienced coffee artisans and entrepreneurs from across the globe, including: Abdullah Al Yamahi, an Emirati Gahwa heritage expert; Osama Al-Awwam, a Saudi Arabian coffee roasting expert; Tim Sturk, a Canadian coffee roasting, sensory and coffee-based competition expert; among other Emirati and regional Gahwa heritage, coffee and sensory experts.
Successful applicants will begin arriving in Abu Dhabi on 5 December to participate in competition events, followed by the main competition at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre on 9–11 December 2019, where contestants will aim to impress the judges and crowds with their skills and knowledge, in what promises to be the most exciting Gahwa-focused event ever seen in the United Arab Emirates.