I read an article recently that quoted Alejandro Cadena, Co-Founder and CEO of Caravela, it got me thinking at a deeper level. He said, “There is no specialty coffee, just specialty coffee farmers.” In another interview, he talks about some of the pressing issues that this industry is facing – climate change, price volatility, and the fact that coffee producers are aging.

When Andy wrote the article – The future of specialty coffee – and featured Shehzeen as the first guest, I was excited to read her views on independent coffee shops transforming into global chains. We are seeing that movement take place already, albeit at a rapid pace.

I have started asking the same question to some of my guests who I feature on The Coffee Story. In a recent interview with Dragoslav Džudović, who quite literally wears many hats. He is the Co-Founder of WACup Coffee Hub and Koub, Business Development Director for RoR Roastery, and in charge of R&D for CoffeeDesk UAE.

Source: Dragoslav Džudović

If that’s not enough, I have spotted him at a couple of national competitions as a judge. So, it goes without saying that I find his expertise in the industry invaluable.

This is what he had to say:

We are seeing rapid investment into the research and development of hybridization of new coffee varietals unlocking potential growing areas. We are at the forefront of unprecedented climate change, adapting to it is one thing, but we need to do it as expeditiously as possible.

Farmers now have access to quality education, more than ever before. This is key to a sustainable future. More effort must be done to reciprocate their efforts, and no, I am not talking only in terms of monetary benefits, but to also help with other resources. The end result should be quality produce for the end customer.

It goes without saying, knowledge is the future. The UAE market is a great example of this. You will find that a small percentage of the consumers are now leading the pack, often more educated than the barista themselves. This is a sign for the cafe management to invest in their employees when it comes to training and education.

Source: Dragoslav Džudović

There’s also a rise in the opening of training centers. I am a firm believer of making knowledge accessible to everyone. Individuals who want to hone their skills, should be supported via non-profit programs.

To sum up: the future of specialty coffee is challenging, experimental and evolving, yet shady, no matter how much people are fighting for transparency.

Thank you for your insights, Drago.

What are your thoughts on the future of specialty coffee? Comment below and let’s take the conversation forward.