Startup of the Week: Saudi students wake up to delights of new coffee shop

Updated 11 September 2019
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Startup of the Week: Saudi students wake up to delights of new coffee shop

RIYADH: Students and workers in Jeddah are waking up to the cultural delights of a new community coffee shop venture.

Coffee & in Jeddah has been set up by three friends with marketing backgrounds to offer quality drinks in a personal, homey, local cafe environment.

The coffee house in the city’s Al-Fayha’a district is within walking distance of Dar Al-Hekma University and King Abdul Aziz University, and its owners aim to cater mainly to students and professionals.

“Whether you are looking for a place to finish your school project, or just want to enjoy some time on our patio between classes, we are here for you,” said joint owner Nada Akhonbay.

Her partners in the business, Essam Akhonbay and Ali Azhari, are both veteran marketers with fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies such as Procter & Gamble, Abudawood, and Basamh.

Their love of good coffee, board games and books were the inspiration behind the shop and influenced its design.

The trio studied abroad where they enjoyed the experience of visiting neighborhood coffee shops and decided to recreate a similar haven for students in Jeddah to relax and get their daily caffeine fix.

In contrast to big multinational coffee shop chains, Coffee & aims to be all about culture and community. “Our goal is to make our customers feel at home by providing quality services and recognizing our regulars by name,” Akhonbay added.

She said they sought to enhance the richness of their interactions with customers and each other and that everyone was welcome.

“We pride ourselves on serving carefully crafted coffee drinks made from 100 percent organic coffee beans, along with non-caffeine drinks. My personal favorites, exclusive to Coffee &, are the red velvet frappe and red velvet latte, which are perfectly sweet with a hint of coffee.”

As well as providing a place for customers to relax, study or work, visitors can also enjoy playing a range board games from around the world while sipping their favorite drinks.

Although the menu consists mainly of coffees, a variety of juices, sandwiches and desserts are also available.

“The next time you come to Jeddah, please stop by to experience the real college campus independent coffee shop, managed and owned by locals,” said Akhonbay.

It is located at Abdullah Sulayman Street in Jeddah’s Al-Fayha’a district. Coffee lovers can follow them on Instagram @coffeeand.sa.


Startup of the Week: Protein Laboratory: Making healthy eating fun and easy

Updated 17 September 2019
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Startup of the Week: Protein Laboratory: Making healthy eating fun and easy

  • And with growing health awareness, many Saudis are switching over to more nutritious dietary habits

JEDDAH: An enterprising Saudi family is aiming to take the world by storm with its scientific approach to healthy eating.

The Bogari’s newly opened Protein Laboratory restaurant in Jeddah is the brainchild of brothers Ahmed, Hussain and Hassan.

The three doctors got the inspiration for their startup from hospital laboratories while studying in medical school, and with the help of their parents set about establishing their innovative culinary venture.

In recent years the health and fitness fad has become a flourishing business sector in the Kingdom, which has witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of gyms and fitness centers.

And with growing health awareness, many Saudis are switching over to more nutritious dietary habits. However, eating clean can be a challenge for those with busy, modern lifestyles who do not have the time to prepare meals.

Enter the Protein Laboratory, opened to add fun to the idea of healthy food. “We wanted to reintroduce the concept of healthy food to the Saudi health and fitness community,” Ahmed, 27, told Arab News.

“We believe that healthy food does not have to be boring and achieving your goal of fat loss can actually satisfy your taste buds and leave you happily full at the same time.

“We are planning to expand in Jeddah and Makkah to help more people achieve their fitness targets while enjoying tasty food, and we are aiming to be recognized globally,” he said.

The trio started planning their enterprise while studying at medical college but credit their parents’ support for helping turn their vision into a successful business launch.

Their father guided them in setting up the company and their mother took responsibility for the restaurant’s kitchen, playing a major role in developing recipes and supervising operations.

The brothers’ association with the field of medicine also helped them in their efforts. Ahmed was first inspired by hospital laboratories and the way researchers worked on minor details to get the best possible results.

“The long counters, glass walls, and test tubes are what I liked the most, in addition to the complete transparency of the place. It is exactly how I wanted our restaurant to be. Everything to be prepared and cooked just in front of the customer with a high level of attention to detail,” he added.

The idea behind the name Protein Laboratory was to ensure customers had the option to select, mix and create ingredients according to their taste or preference.

“Customers can order their meals according to their nutritional needs and preferences, starting with selecting the protein base, cooking method, side dishes, the sauce and portion of the meal’s components in grams.”

Ahmed said: “We use the healthiest cooking methods possible. We don’t use frozen meat; we blend our own spices and make sure everything is always made in the healthiest way.”

The brothers and their mother work like scientists. “We spent one year testing ingredients and creating healthy recipes. We had only one goal in mind: High protein in a healthy meal and a portion that could help us and others to stay healthy while still eating the food we desired with higher quality and better taste,” Ahmed added.

Their lab salad dish includes more than 20 organic ingredients high in protein, fiber and antioxidants. The restaurant’s burger has only 396 calories, and one of their best-selling desserts is a sugar-free banana pancake.

“We aim to make our prices within everyone’s reach,” Ahmed said.

One of the services offered by the restaurant is subscription to a meal plan drawn up according to the nutritional needs of the customer and delivered to their workplace or home.

Protein Laboratory is located in Helmi Kutbi Street, in Jeddah’s Al-Zahra district and can be followed on Instagram @proteinlabsa.