World cezve/ ibrik coffee championship at Gulfood

Taking place at Gulfood this week is the ninth annual world cezve/ibrik coffee championships. It is the first time the annual global championship has been held in Dubai

World cezve/ ibrik coffee championship at Gulfood
World cezve/ ibrik coffee championship at Gulfood

Taking place at Gulfood this week is the ninth annual world cezve/ibrik coffee championships. It is the first time the annual global championship has been held in Dubai.

The competition is organized by the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe. Here in Dubai, the event at Gulfood has been organized with support from DWTC, Khalid Al Mulla from Easternmen and Co and Dubai Coffee Museum, and Matt Toogood and Kim Thompson from Raw Coffee.

The cezve (Turkish) and ibrik (Greek) both refer to the traditional long handled cooking pot in which traditional Turkish, Greek and Arabic coffee are brewed.

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While approximately 70% of the coffee prepared in the GCC region is brewed using the ibrik, this event aims to bring speciality coffee and modern technique to this traditional method, and showcase some of the 800 different possible flavour profiles of coffee in the process. 

Talking to Caterer Middle East at the championships at Gulfood this year, Matt Toogood described this event as the “Olympics of coffee”. 

Previous participants in the competition include Matt Toogood himself (who came third in the 2014 competition) and Stavros Lamprinidis, who won the 2014 event, and is a judge at the 2016 event.

“Some of these guys are the rock stars of the coffee world. They are so good at doing what they do, that now they are giving back” Toogood commented on Lamprinidis’ involvement this year.

“What we are doing here, is helping the baristas to extend their skill set. If you’ve got the opportunity to prepare for a competition, and you are being supported by your company, by the end of it, the hotel receives back a better qualified barista, because they have had the opportunity to really dig deep into the product.

“Most competitors will spend between one and two hundred hours preparing for a competition. They forget about the distractions of their day job, their shift time etc, and they focus on making the best quality product they can. They go back to work next week, and that translates straight into their product.”

The competitors are given 15 minutes preparation time, and 15 minutes presentation (and ‘cooking’) time to prepare two identical traditional ibrik brews, plus two identical signature coffee drinks created with an ibrik.

In the case of Romanian competitor Ecaterina Beatrice Szasz (who came second at last year’s competition and is a hotly tipped favourite at this year’s event) the signature drink was an iced coffee created with smoked ‘bitter’ water (using a smoking gun) and a sweet lemongrass infused syrup (using sous vide).

Also competing at this year’s event are the first competitors from several countries in the GCC and wider region including the first from KSA, Sara Al Ali; the first from Iran, Arin Khachaturian; from India, Prem Bahadur GC; from Nepal, Hemant Pokharel; and from Morocco, Majda Errihani.

Participants working in the UAE include Pokharel, who works with Fresh Express, and Errihani, who works for the Kempinski Hotel Ajman. 

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