Sara Alali is a café owner, coffee educator, and Barista Hustle coach based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A licensed Q grader and an authorised SCA trainer, Sara has served as a national judge for barista and latte art competitions.
In 2017, Sara won second place at the MENA Cezve/Ibrik Championship and placed sixth in the World Cezve/Ibrik Championship. Sara was the first person from Saudi Arabia to qualify for the final round of a World Coffee Events competition.
Interview with Sara Alali
Barista Hustle – What brew ratio do you recommend for ibrik?
Sara Alali – [I recommend] a ratio between 1:7–1:10, depending on the roast profile.
BH – Do you tend to default to a standard brew ratio?
SA – 1:8–1:8.5 is where I start from almost in all recipes.
BH – Can you give us an idea of your approach to grinding coffee for ibrik? We notice that many traditional recipes (and almost all supermarket-grade Ibrik coffees) usually try to grind as fine as possible, often using stone mills. Is that necessary?
SA – I use my Comandante hand grinder on the finest setting possible, or my EK43/T. I haven’t tried the stone mill. But I have noticed that supermarket pre-ground coffee is finer than what I can normally get with the grinders I mentioned above.
BH – Many good ibrik recipes we have tried involve making a cold emulsion at the start, whereas other recipes suggest preheating the water to, say, 60°C. What do you recommend? I usually start with 60–65°C and keep my brews just below 2:20 minutes. I believe more in the way heat is controlled during brewing than focusing on the water brewing temperature at the start.
SA – From different experiments and with the way I brew, I found that when I start with cold water the grounds tend to form clumps, and I observed a sudden rise in temperature,