ASITD ME 2023: Magic Beans, Rima Alghanim

Friday, 20 October, 2023

Name of business owner: Rima Alghanim

Name of competing roaster: Rima Alghanim

When did your roastery start? And, as the owner, why a coffee roastery?

We opened in February 2022 with the aim of focusing on coffee sensory.

Initially I did want to open a coffee shop, but after working as a head barista I found out I’m interested in working with coffee beans since it’s the source of flavor notes.

I believe in specialty coffee because the tasting sensation that natural coffee flavor notes can only be experienced in coffee. 

Since coffee taste is primarily controlled by roasting, I knew this is what I wanted to work focus on and this is where the product differentiation will come into play. Also brand values and identity makes Magic Beans unique.

How did you learn to roast coffee? 

Initially I bought a sample roaster just for fun, but none of the roasts highlighted the characters of terroir. So I visited a friend roaster who broke down the basics for me. My roasts improved, but I wasn’t satisfied. So I took an intensive course with a roasting trainer that answered my questions and helped me understand my mistakes and how I can improve. 

And what drew you to roasting as a profession?

I didn’t plan it, which sums up my coffee journey so far!

All jokes aside, roasting was a mystery to me, I’m excellent at tasting and analyzing coffee but I was limited because I couldn’t share my feedback to improve any roasters roast. I decided it’s time for me to deep dive into roasting.

What do you love most about the coffee roasting industry?

It’s still an experimental territory with new research and new products coming up. I would love to see new products for roasters that can that can helps us understand our roasts results and how to improve our roasts, but it whatever comes up needs to be budget friendly.

In your opinion, is roasting more science or more art?

Us coffee possessed people are romantic and think of it as art, since we can modulate the flavor to a certain degree. But I would say it’s based on science.

Was there a particular cup of coffee that changed the way you think about coffee?

My first specialty coffee experience in 2017, I always tell this story where I “converted” to specialty coffee and became a believer. I was fasting, and there was a specialty coffee shop near my home. Every time I passed it I felt curios to try this expensive coffee. I thought it was for hipsters , but I also wanted to give it a try. 

My first cup was a v60 single origin from India, the bag noted “butterscotch” flavor notes.

Once I broke my fast and had a sip, I did taste the butterscotch flavor and the rest is history. 

What is your focus as a roastery? Wholesale to cafes? Do you roast just for your own cafe? Sell online? 

We work with retail and wholesale, but our main focus is wholesales. There are many coffee lovers who end up opening up a cafe, we work with them to help in selecting beans that suits their menu and their budget.

We also have an online store for our retail customers. 

May you please tell us a bit about your team? Who makes the wheels turn in your operation?

We are a small team that wants to make specialty coffee fun and accessible to anyone interested in knowing more about coffee. We are experiential by nature, anyone can pitch in ideas be it for marketing, improving the way we work or naming a new coffee crop, we make sure we are proud of what we deliver to our customers.

With all the different processing methods now available to roasters, is there a processing method that you enjoy working with? And why?

I think the “true classic” processing methods are my favourites. I can trust that they will deliver their potential as a coffee bean. The newer experiential methods or even the mislabeled green beans are tricky, you don’t know what are working with so there’s also going to be a roast waste.

How have you seen coffee culture in your region grow over the last few years?

100%, it’s been growing year over year. Whether it’s on the consumer side or the number of business opening up. As a business, tides have changed. Roasteries used to have more say when it comes to pricing its’ product. In the last three years, retail and coffee equipment & tools have control. They set difficult conditions on roasteries who want to offer their coffees on the shelf. 

Where are you located and can people come visit you?

We are located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. We operate as an online store we ship to all cites in KSA and to GCC and Egypt. 

What makes your roastery stand out in a booming industry?

Realistically, the market in Saudi Arabia is saturated, during planning we knew we needed a unique brand.

Our brand is inspired by Arab folklore and One thousand and one nights as well as a focus on improving sensory skills via our coffee and education.

Our philosophy is to select green beans that have unique flavor notes and/or pronounced flavors that anybody outside of the industry can guess which group of flavor notes it belongs to (Fruity, Chocolaty, Nutty etc). Which results in a notable taste experience to the coffee drinker.

We publish educational content in Arabic, with a variety of topics that interest home baristas and coffee shops owners. If you visit our IG or our blog I can confidently say you wouldn’t find any roastery that care about free education as much as we do.

Anything we do goes back to our brand values and philosophy.

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