In 2014, Mohammed Alghamdi first experienced specialty coffee. And in 2016, he became the first ever Saudi AeroPress Champion – a step that was just as exciting for Saudi Arabia as it was for him.
He agreed to speak to us about how it feels, his winning recipe, and who else we should keep an eye on from his country.
Mohammed Alghamdi focuses on his routine at the Saudi AeroPress Championship. Credit: Mousa Alfaifi
Congratulations on being the 1st Saudi AeroPress Champion! How does it feel?
Thank you, it feels pretty great to be the champion at the first coffee competition event in Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, I now feel a great responsibility to encourage people to explore new coffee. And also to participate in coffee events, so as to share and establish our talent and knowledge both locally and globally.
In Dublin, it was a big honour and responsibility to present my country for the first time – to show the global coffee audience our recently developed specialty coffee scene. It was also an honour to network with other coffee professionals and enthusiasts and exchange knowledge with them.
Mohammed Alghamdi with the Saudi AeroPress Championship trophies. Credit: Mousa Alfaifi
How would you compare the Dublin coffee scene to Riyadh’s?
I loved how organised the coffee community in Dublin is, and the diverse adoption of specialty coffee. Specialty coffee in cafés and restaurants, it’s hardly ever seen in Saudi Arabia as well as in other places in the world. It’s something we can definitely learn from.
I also dig the vast adoption to a multi-roaster café, and the fact that they’re bringing their offerings from roasters in Europe. I wish to see more Saudi Arabian cafes embrace this approach.
Is AeroPress a particularly popular brewing method in Riyadh?
Not very, but at least it’s slowly starting to grow on people. It’s often used when camping and traveling thanks to its light weight and durability. Events like the AeroPress Championship have helped in spreading awareness of it.
What coffee did you use? And, if you wouldn’t mind sharing, what was your recipe?
A natural from Hambela Estate, Oromia, Ethiopia. It was indigenous heirloom varieties grown at 1,900-2,200 m.a.s.l. Me and a competing friend, Bader, cupped the coffee with our friends at Elixir Bunn Coffee and we liked it so much that we asked to use it in the competition.
I used 15g of coffee ground to coarse and 225g of water (use good water!) For my pre-infusion, I used 30g of water at 85°c, stirring while pouring, over 30 seconds. Then I poured the rest at 55 seconds, waited until 01:30, locked the metal filter in, and plunged over 35 seconds.
Mohammed Alghamdi pays close attention to the time of his pour. Credit: Khaled Alkolaib
Thanks for sharing! So what were the other competitors like?
Some were pretty experienced and knowledgeable, while others were new but developed their skills really quickly during build-up to the finals. I was thrilled to know that a few female participants made an appearance and even won the first qualifier in the Eastern province.
One remarkable competitor that you should keep an eye out for is Abdulelah Aljailani. He made a pretty darn good impression. He’s a high school student. He heard of the AeroPress Championship and, despite never having brewed with one before, decided to participate immediately. He bought the brewer and started practising a month before the regional qualifiers, won two times, and reached the finals. In fact, he beat one of our most skilled local AeroPress brewers who has three years of experience.
He joined Camel Step Coffee Roasters. And I personally believe that he’ll nail the championship next year.
Wow! Thanks for talking, Mohammed!
Watch Mohammed’s winning recipe in action here:
Feature photo credit: Khaled Alkolaib
Please note: Aerobie, Inc. is a sponsor of Perfect Daily Grind. This interview was conducted independently of them, and they have had no influence over the final copy.
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