• Trecê Brasil

The Saudi barista who wants to change more lives through coffee

Atualizado: 3 de jul. de 2020

Sara Alali was runner-up in the Turkish preparations in the Middle East and North Africa region in 2016 and in 2017 was a world finalist in the category, in Budapest, reaching 6th place.

Thais Sousa


Belo Horizonte - Among coffee tasters from several countries, mostly men, a woman calls the attention of photographers, who make records of their commitment in each cup. Her name is Sara Alali and she's from Saudi Arabia. Wear a purple veil and, between a cupping room (professional coffee tasting) and another, make photo and video records.

"I posted some things on Instagram but in Saudi Arabia, the most popular is Snapchat. It's for them that I want to show what's happening, so I put a lot more there", she tells me, as we walk through the International Coffee Week (SIC) in Belo Horizonte, a fair she visited at the invitation of the organization along with a group of professionals organized by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).

Sara has over 10,000 followers in Instagram and has already lost the account of the Snapchat hearing. The local fame is for its pioneerism. She's a champion coffee maker in the Turkish method. "I was the first Saudi woman, among men and women, to be among the best in the world", she reveals with pride. The Saudi Arabian explains that Brazilian and Colombian coffee are the most popular in her country, but that she is not content with the most common flavors that have arrived there.

"I'm tasting very exotic coffees here! I want to take more and more beans like this to Saudi Arabia to get to know this Brazilian coffee," he said.

The Saudi studied in Canada and there she fell in love with coffee. "I started as a habit and when I returned to Saudi Arabia I wanted to focus on coffee as a drink. Little by little, I realized as coffee a way to share knowledge. So I went to France to study and took courses at SCAE (former Specialty Coffee Association of Europe). And when I took my first espresso, at that moment I realized: 'That's what I want to do with my life,'" he declared.

A moment that changed her life forever, and would also change that of other women. "As an instructor authorized by the association, I began teaching in my country. I teach men and women without any problems, but I know how important it is for many women that I am there. They come to class with me and say I'm an inspiration. It's so important and exciting. I'm honored by this," says the professional.

Before she was grabbed by the grain, Sara worked for a non-governmental organization. And she tells us that she now feels how being a barism instructor unites her two vocations: helping others and being close to the café. With time, already in Saudi Arabia, she and she went deeper and deeper, this time with the support of her friend Osama, co-founder of The Roasting House. It was Osama who encouraged her to compete as a professional barista.

"He encouraged me to participate in competitions. At first I said, "No way! But I realized that could encourage other people. When I started, I couldn't stop anymore. It's a challenge, which I like, and you learn a lot! It's an enriching experience," she says. Following the challenges she enjoys, Sara was runner-up in Turkish preparation in the Middle East and North Africa region in 2016, and in 2017 she was a world finalist in the category, in Budapest, reaching 6th place.

Despite her promising career, Sara was unable to compete in 2018. After SCAE and SCA (former American Specialty Coffee Association) joined to form SCA, it explains that it can no longer compete. "We don't have a national competition yet, so this year I wasn't allowed to compete in the World Cup. We are organizing ourselves to create the national competition and thus we can have an international representative," says the Saudi Arabian.

That Coffee Shop

Now she lives one more possibility that the world of coffee has given her, that of owning a coffee shop. That Coffee Shop, located in the country's capital Riad, has a profound meaning for it. "Coffee, in fact, changed my life. He got me to know myself a lot more. That's why I put this name in my coffee shop. In Arabic, 'that' means 'self', because that's it: I'm myself in the cafe and how much he made me see better," declares the barista.

"Sure, it was hard at first. I entered the room to study (in the courses) and was the only woman. I looked around and it was hard to put myself in, to talk," he reveals. However, Sara's story would go another way. "It's very good to be able to say that, because as I've been trying to learn more, I've met men who've given me support. Osama helped me a lot, he really encouraged it! The coffee I buy today is the one that roasts," says Sara.

Source: ANBA - Brazil-Arab News Agency

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