The Men Behind 12 Cups


What’s the deal with specialty coffee?  

Tell us a little about yourselves and your roasting house.

12 Cups started by two young Saudi entrepreneurs Ghassan Alhazzaa and Bader Aljalajel, who studied abroad and came back to Saudi and found a need in the market for high quality variety of coffee beans.

We met in Portland, OR back in 2010, during that time we talked a lot about future employment opportunities and career paths. After coming back to Saudi, we met at different cafes across Riyadh for discussions, and every time we’d have an issue with the quality of beverages served. So we decided to brew our coffee, but the question was where to get our caffeine from. We started importing our coffee from the same source of one café in Portland we both liked.

Our friends, family and colleagues starting asking us to share our coffee with them, and eventually asked if we can include them in our orders. Little by little we realized we started to import in large quantities. That’s where the idea of starting 12 cups came from.DSC07371-Edit

What is your secret to the perfect cup of coffee?

I wish there was a simple secret. There is a long selective process that most people are not aware of. From selecting the best soil for farming then harvest and ripening. Also the method of transportation all the way to roasting profile and the form of preparation.

What’s your absolute favorite kind of beans?

Dark roasted African single origin beans (the beans came from one farm). African beans tend to have more fruitful hints.DSC07276

If you were stuck on an island and you could only choose 3 things to take with you, what would it be?

Bag of coffee beans, Godiva chocolate bar-autumn edition and the second season of “Dead Like Me.”

What kind of brewing methods do you prefer?

I like the simplicity and fun of the pour-over method. Plus, it produces a cleaner cup, meaning it would be residual-free.DSC07359

Are there any unique drinks on your menu that stand out?

Shakerato during summer.

Where do you import your coffee beans from?

Indonesia, Africa, Central America and Hawaii.

How is the recent rise in coffee prices going to affect business?

I think it has a positive effect in general. If someone is going to pay an extra for a cup of a coffee, he will be expecting a quality that lives up to that price. Subsequently coffee- startups would thrive since their selling point is not the availability, it is the quality of the

One thing you’d add to your café if you had infinite funds.

I would like to raise the coffee-awareness-culture. Maybe more media presence and endorsements from influential individuals and organizations, a 12-Cups-Academy?

Location: Suite 400, King Abdulaziz Branch Rd.
Mob: +966-550050951
Working Hours: 6 – 12 a.m.


Artist’s Corner: Sahrish S. Ali


Meet this month’s emerging artist!

Name: Sahrish S. Ali | سحرش
Occupation: Programmer / Pun Queen
Medium: Geometric drawings, gypsum carving, paper folding, etc., but mostly pens.
Instagram: thesahrish

What got you started?
As a child whenever I would get antsy and restless during lessons, an adult would give me a piece of paper to fold, draw or play with. Occasionally I would go to my dad’s office on the weekends. He used to let me use a very old desktop computer with Windows 95 and a modem that made old timey noises. There I would spend hours sketching characters and doodling using MS Paint. Drawing and playing with paper has always been a part of me.unnamed-4

Why do you art?
Communicating what I see and feel about the world around me has always been a challenge. I want to be able to communicate through creating. To bring an idea into focus and give it life so it serves a purpose by just existing in the world.unnamed

Is your work the result of sudden inspiration, or long term planning? How do you think up your concepts?
Waiting for inspiration is like starving yourself. I do geometric patterns as a form of daily meditation and the origami just kicks in when I am thinking of other stuff. However, some projects are planned ahead. Sometimes inspiration just finds you when you are working and having fun while at it.IMG_6720

What is, in your opinion, the best thing you’ve ever created and why?
Once I made this Rest in Peace piece, where I had these journals that I had filled out over the course of a year. Writings included my daily reflections and personal thoughts from times that were difficult and the only thing I could do was to keep writing. I took the pages of those journals and folded them into origami peace doves that were then arranged in the form of a whirlwind. It symbolized coming to peace with my thoughts and the past. I gave them all away. People would come and pluck a piece and take the ones they thought were most relatable to them. It was comforting to see how much people related to the piece and I wasn’t alone.IMG_6630

What do you think of the art scene in Saudi? Anything you’d like to see changed?
I would definitely love more public activities where you bring communities together to form one art concept or piece. There’s art education awareness on the rise now and I think nurturing visual thinking within the school systems would help.IMG_6257

Who are your role models?
Ai Weiwei, Chinese contemporary artist and activist, and Neil Gaiman, English author.IMG_5512

Favorite piece of artwork by someone else.

  • Laundromat by Ai Weiwei, 2016, at Deitch Projects

  • Ai Weiwei: 2016 Roots and Branches at Lisson Gallery


tekSPACY: Meet the Future of Innovation


Sarah Al Dossary tells us about the creative mobile and tech shop.

Who are the brains behind tekSPACY?
The dream for a makerspace started when I was working with KACST BADIR Program for Incubators where I was the only female member of the Advanced Manufacturing Incubator (AMI). Dr. Mohammed Al Majed was the Director of BADIR AMI at that stage and he had a profound effect in shaping my mind towards advanced manufacturing. Being the visionary that he is, and his passion for human capital development, he inspired me to make a career change from IT to practical advanced manufacturing. Last year I hooked up with Swiss specialist employability consultancy TeleTegniek Instituut GmbH to do a market research project on the concept in Saudi Arabia. We wanted to establish a facility similar to TechShop or FABLAB in the USA, but one customized for Saudi culture and conditions. Being female, we decided to start with a female tekSPACY. BADIR sponsored the first tekSPACY, and we launched last Nov. 27. It’s a dream come true.IMG_9213-copy

What inspired you to open a manufacturing workshop for women?
With what’s called the “Maker Movement” going on around the world there’s a growing need to open the manufacturing sector to women and to develop ways to give all girls access to existing manufacturing facilities. Except for tekSPACY, there are no places for innovative women to convert their ideas into products and in creating it we can inspire many to become self-employed, or start small businesses that manufacture Saudi-made products.

In addition, many of the government initiatives to empower women to create their own businesses are challenged by lack of proper business models and training methods. For example, we are developing an innovative way to establish smart phone repairs. It provides needed technologies, necessary training, mentorship and market engagement while making use of the most advanced technologies in the world.IMG_9249-copy

There are a number of manufacturing hubs in the region. What makes tekSPACY stand out?
This tekSPACY is solely for women and run by women. In addition, it’s connected to big manufacturing facilities such as Advanced Manufacturing Workshop at King Abdulaziz for Science and Technology. It’s also connected to a small innovative manufacturing company with larger machines where we can have products manufactured on larger scale. All is Saudi initiated, owned and managed. And we are already in discussions with large equipment suppliers like SIEMENS for next generation design and manufacturing technology. Such collaborations allow women to realize the most complicated designs.IMG_9254-copy

What skill level should women who want to join in the workshop have?
They really only need to have passion to do something themselves, and a willingness to learn. Even if they only have an idea, other women design for them, and someone else manufactures. The fun is really in seeing how an idea can take shape.



Le Chocolat: DR’s Sinful Guide to the City


The ultimate chocolate indulgence around town.

Chocolate Ice Box Cake: Magnolia Bakery

La-Chocolate-Magnolia-Riyadh-2017-NF4Layers upon layers of whoopee cookies covered in a light cream frosting? Sign us up. Sign us up ANYTIME.

DR Tip: How can you make a cookie cake better? They can customize with glitter if you like. Glitter! We know.

Chocolate Lava Cookie: Eldorado Café

La-Chocolate-Eldorado-Riyadh-2017-NF6There’s a lot to love about Eldorado (their chais are great), and nothing really seals the deal for us like a Nutella stuffed monster of a cookie that arrives piping hot. Mmmm, happiness.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Malt Shake: Johnny Rockets

milk-shake-johnnyThere are few things in this world that we respect as much as this shake. It’s thick, it’s consistent, it has malt in it, and it is heaven on earth.

DR Tip: If you’re too full, ask for the kid’s cup. Smaller, cheaper, and less calories.

Eclairs: French Corner

Eclair1Sometimes oldies are the best ones. This might not be the most accurate éclair, but it’s fat and filled with delicious chocolate cream and we love it.

DR Tip: They frequently sell out, so call ahead if you’d like more than one.

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream: Amorino

2La-Chocolate--Amorino-Riyadh-2017-NF2The consistency of their chocolate ice cream is, frankly, unsurpassed. And they make it into a pretty flower for you.

DR Tip: Mix it with the salted caramel for a nice contrast.

Oreo Mousse: Tao

oreo-tao-2Classic and beloved by folks everywhere, Tao’s Oreo mousse is practically an institution. It’s so popular they offer it to go if you call ahead.

DR Tip: For easier pick up, try Torta’s version. Equally delicious, and at a fraction of the price.

Nutella Crepe: Eataly

crepes2We’re always up for anything Nutella, and Eataly has a whole Nutella MENU. We vastly approve.

DR Tip: Eataly’s less busy in the mornings.

Soufflé: Sada Altahliyah

sada-al-tahliah2Sada Altahliya’s soufflé was the reigning champ before Tao’s Oreo mousse stole the title, and we were kinda sad to see it happen. This one’s got heavy nostalgia for us, even though it’s more of a pudding than a soufflé.

DR Tip: They cater to parties, and we like using any excuse to get a whole vat full of the stuff.


A Master of the Arts


Calligrapher Fahad Al Majhadi.

Talk to us a little about yourself.

My name is Fahad Saleh Al Majhadi, born in Riyadh in 1982, first Saudi to receive an ‘ijaza’ (an official license of arts) from the Head of Saudi Calligraphers Nasser Al Maymoon, an ijaza from Mumtaz Durdu, a calligraphy instructor in the Research Center for Islamic History, Art, and Culture (IRCICA), an ijaza from Sheikh Hassan Jalbi, the master calligrapher of Turkey. I’m also the first Saudi to receive a certificate from IRCICA, a tradition dating back to the Ottomans. I grew up in Riyadh, and I love routine. Coffee is another passion and I dedicate ample time for it every day.

Do calligraphers have levels?

There are different schools of calligraphy as well as the calligraphers themselves, for example the strongest/best school is the Turkish school, followed by the Baghdadi school and the others. By popular vote, the great Sami Afandi is the best calligraphy in the history of the art, followed by his pupil Mohammed Nadhif Beh, then Mustafa Halim Ozyaghi Efendi. Mohammed Shawqi Efendi is considered the best calligrapher to specialize in naskh.Fahad-Almajhady-Riyadh-2017-NF5

What is the most difficult aspect of learning calligraphy?

In my personal experience, it’s when the calligrapher reaches a stage where his vision does not match his ability, which leaves him frustrated because he can see what he can’t write. But alhamdullilah, my faith in myself and my severe perseverance helped me overcome this stage.

Are there particular tools you have to use, and does the quality of said tools make a difference?

Yes, the tools have a large role, especially when producing paintings. The right paper, as well as good quality ink must be taken into consideration. The best tools are the natural ones, for example ink made of natural resources and by masters of the trade. For the pen, different types of wood are used in accordance to the calligraphy type, the jawi pen is for naskh calligraphy while Turkish or Iranian pens suit thuluth calligraphy.Fahad-Almajhady-Riyadh-2017-NF1

Who is your role model?

My role model in the field is the titan Othmani Sami Efendi. After Allah’s blessing, my admiration and emulation of him is what helped me reach the stage I am in now, to the point where my fellow calligraphers have titled me Sami of Riyadh.

Do you think the art of Arabic calligraphy has been somewhat neglected these days?

The art of Arabic calligraphy is a venerable one, with many secrets, and it has seen large neglect here due to the lack of cultural artistic awareness in our society. However currently, and after expending a lot of effort by me and my colleagues, there has been a reawakening of the art and interest in it by some officials, which came about after they saw the high level of artistry that the Saudi calligraphers possess and the respect they wield internationally at this time.


Kidult Chic!


How to dress like your inner child without raising too many eyebrows.


If you find a better throwback than this ultra-glam update to the barrettes, we’ll eat our trendy embroidered straw hats.Zara-1

Stars and Chain Headband, Zara, SR 59

All of our favorite outfits when we were kids involved some form of tutu or another. Good news: They have them for big kids too. They just call them tulle skirts now.chic-wish-60-dollars-amore-tulle-midi-skirt

Amore Tulle Shirt, Chic Wish, SR 225/True Decadence Tulle Skirt, ASOS, SR 176

Look, Kiplings are THE thing to wear as a child. They came with their very own plush monkeys, for one. Secondly, the bags had the perfect organizers. Wear these great throwbacks without compromising your outfit.kipling-backpack-139-dollars

Pink Backpack, Kipling, SR 484/ Black Backpack, Kipling, SR 520

Sometimes the best buys can be found in the children’s section itself, like this super shiny makeshift rocket ship clutch from H&M.h&m-rocketship-bag-30euros

H&M, SR 124

Personally, we think any outfit looks better with cool socks. Bring back your playground days with these ruffled socks, or add a nod to cartoons on Thursday mornings with this fun dinosaur print.plastic-soldier-socks-topshop-men-3-pounds

Crochet knit socks, ASOS, SR 17/ Dino socks, Topshop, SR 17

Yeah, jelly sandals aren’t really practical in the long run. But isn’t having a young soul all about the impractical?

Multiglitter hi jelly shoe, Juju, SR 138

Remind everyone exactly how old you want to be with these pretty awesome patched jeans.TS02V22JBLC_Zoom_F_1

Moto lucas boyfriend jeans, Topshop, SR 270

Lisa. Frank. Clothing. Line. That is ALL you need to

Lisa Frank crop top, Rage On, SR 142

Collecting’em all is basically what our childhood was about. And nothing says I’m obsessed like these adorable pins and patches.patch-lollipop-tuesday-bassen-12usd

Patch Lollipop, Tuesday Bassen, SR 44/ Keepout pin, Tuesday Bassen, SR 37/Game Over Pin, These Are Things, SR 37


Be the superhero mini-you always wanted to be… With a logo on your t-shirt, of course.

Deadpool shirt, iivm Clothing, SR 60/ T-shirt, Thinkgeek, SR 102

Lego is, without a doubt, the greatest invention of the 21st century. Show your love with this grown up mini-fig watch that comes with interchangeable watch faces.

Happiness watch, Lego, SR 318

Ah! Light up shoes that fit adult sizes? We’ll take 50 pairs of that, please.


State of Flux, Irregular Choice, SR 706

Put your favorite comic book or cartoon characters on some shades to proclaim your love AND look totally cool while you’re at it.


Adventure Time sunglasses, Ketchupize, SR 205

Feel every inch a schoolboy with this inspired bright yellow backpack. Instant outfit upgrade.


Portrait backpack, Cambridge Satchel Company, SR 514

Planning on being in a thobe all day? You can make your day better with fun cufflinks that’ll stare at everyone you’ll pass by.


Ghost cufflinks, Paul Smith, SR 416

Overalls, shorts, jeans with ripped holes in them; anything that indicates you might get scraped falling off your skateboard is a perfect fit. Get them in bright colors for extra points!


Light blue shorts, Ted Baker, SR 340

Guys, you can have fun with pins and patches too! Stick’em on the collar of your coats or on your bags, they make great conversation starters.

Pill pin, Adam JK, SR 37/ Adult Magic Patch, Ball and Chain Co, SR 34/ Bottled Up Feelings Enamel pin, Adam JK, SR 37


Artists Corner: Ghada Alhudaithi


Meet this month’s emerging artist!

Artist’s Profile

Name: Ghada Al Hudaithi
Age: 23
Occupation: Freelancer
Medium: Photoshop cc on my Wacom cintiq / paper, pencil and a bunch of markers.

What got you started?
The compliments I get after someone sees my cartoons, the feeling is very rewarding so I guess that can be it.

Why do you art?
It’s my way of having fun.

Is your work the result of sudden inspiration, or long term planning? How do you think up your concepts?
Well, growing up watching old classic cartoons is basically the reason of me loving and producing them. I’ve always been inspired or amazed at how animation works and how “they” do it. So back in the day when I was in school, I kept on sketching during classes (not that I advise anyone to do so), whenever I study at home. Until I actually believed I got something going on.therapits1-final-copy

What is, in your opinion, the best thing you’ve ever created and why?
Honestly, I’m not the one who rates my cartoons so I don’t have any masterpieces, but personally I find my animal cartoon sketches good.

What do you think of the art scene in Riyadh? Anything you’d like to see changed?
The art scene here in Riyadh is pretty impressive, although the art styles are not my kind of art but who can’t love them, right?

Who are your role models?
Walt Disney, Matt Groening, Abdullah Jaber, Seth Macfarlane and Sara Qaed.

What does being creative mean to you?
To me being creative at cartooning is to take a situation or an idea, and looking at it from a different angle. Turning it into a funny unique cartoon.

Favorite piece of artwork by someone else.
A short silent cartoon by Walt Disney called “Plane Crazy” produced in 1928.


How to Protect Your Children


Simple dos and don’ts to prevent child abuse.

Don’t leave your children alone in strange places. If you want to take your child to Chucky Cheese, don’t just give them money and leave. The staff isn’t there to babysit. Even in friends’ houses, if you’re not intimately acquainted with the family, make sure your child has a way to contact you at all times. You should also pick up your child to and from school, and if they ride the bus make sure you are able to greet them at the door of your house or apartment building.

Don’t shift your child caring to others. Leaving them completely in the care of household staff allows your child to transfer their trust from you to an employee in your home and again, leaves them vulnerable. Even with a 9-5 job, parents must find a balance for childminding, and enrolling them into preschool early is a good option as well. Sending your baby with your driver to pick up your other kids so you can get some shut-eye, however, is NOT.shutterstock_307192661

Do decide on a magic word system. We read this in an online post once and thought it was a wonderful idea. Sometimes, even with the best intentions children can get lost, and people with bad intentions can mislead them to thinking the predator knows their parents. Pick a word that your child will know is the password for anyone who knows you.

Do keep an open channel with your child. If your child knows they can come and talk to you about any little thing, you’ll make it easier for them to let you know something’s wrong. Always ask them about their day at school, a friend’s house or any situation you’re not available in. Also, provide your child with a family cell phone that they can call you on if they need to.shutterstock_80888782

Disclaimer: These tips are in no way a fool proof guide. Every situation and family is different. But in our society child molestation and bullying is a subject that is shifted over and swept under the rug, and we do urge you to take a moment and think about the effect any kind of neglect, whether intentional or unintentional, may have on your child.


Allawashi: Riyadh’s Hottest Jazz Band


Our meet and greet with the team.

State your names and occupations.

  • Abdulrahman Al Khawashki, Alfaisal University Marketing Student

  • Mohammad Al Khawashki, Medical School Graduate

  • Mazen Lawand, Owner of Lawand Studios

Who plays what? And can you guys play any other instruments?

A: Bass guitar. Also guitar, drums, piano, beginner clarinet.

MK: I play the drum set along with any other percussive instruments. I dabble in other instruments but I can’t say I play anything else proficiently.

ML: Guitar, piano and oud.

Can you give us the back story behind the name?

A: The name is a merge between our family names: Lawand and Khawashki.

MK: We’d been without a band name for about 4 years and one day we got called up for a gig and they asked us what we were called. Normally we’d just make anything up and go with that but this time we just decided that whatever name we give needs to be Arabic and needs to have absolutely no meaning. We kept merging our names together really till we got something, and this time it stuck.

ML: Our band name is a merge between our last names. So basically those guys with the last names merged. It doesn’t really mean anything. I think it’s funny really.IMG_9555

What’s it like playing for a crowd?

A: Naturally, the more I do it the more I get used to it. In the beginning I use to get pretty nervous and my fingers would freeze, but now it’s more exciting and thrilling more than scary. I just try to avoid looking at the crowd and keep looking at my instrument to not worry about what they think of the music.

MK: Always scary and always nerve wrecking, but always exhilarating just the same. It’s also a lot of fun gauging the audience’s reaction to our playing, be it good or bad.

ML: We’re actually good at it. Playing for a crowd is not such a big deal, it’s exciting and makes us want more. I personally have been playing for crowds since I was 14.

Abdulrahman, you’re also a member of Bear and the Happy. Do you find any difficulties between switching between the two bands in terms of the music style?

Definitely, with Allawashi the music is very different and challenging because we are playing jazz fusion music, which for me forced me to break down and analyze every aspect of my playing and reconstruct my perception and understanding of my instrument and music. It was like starting playing a new instrument all over again. But the style of each band is significantly different so switching between the songs is not that confusing.

Where do you want to see the band in five years?

A: It would be amazing if we would be performing across the Middle East and be known regionally. Hopefully we would have a couple of albums as well.

MK: Splintered up into a thousand and one other musical projects including this one!

ML: Touring the Middle East and collaborating with other Arab jazz artists and having sponsors fighting over us because we couldn’t decide who to sign with.



Artist’s Corner: Sarah Samer Farhoud


Meet this month’s emerging artist!

Artist’s Profile

Name: Sarah Samer Farhoud
Age: 24
Occupation: Physician, Freelance fitness instructor, and freelance artist.
Medium: Acrylic and oil on canvas, ink sketches and illustrations.
Instagram: farhoudart / vegansaudi

What got you started?

I always loved to express myself through art. In my early teens my grandfather encouraged me to paint and work on my creativity which helped me learn to love experimenting with different styles and aesthetics.

Why do you art?

I use art as a filter for all the ideas and thoughts I have trouble expressing or dispensing in another way. Art has been there through good and bad times. It’s meditation at its best. I create not to leave a piece of me in this world but to have a conversation with it.Heavythearts

Is your work the result of sudden inspiration, or long term planning? How do you think up your concepts?

It’s always different. I am inspired by many things. By the people in my life, the stories, music, lyrics, other art work and especially how I feel.

What is, in your opinion, the best thing you’ve ever created and why?

I don’t think I’ve created the best thing yet. I hope to one day to look back and think, “I made that, that’s mine!” But right now I’m working on experimenting and finding my voice in the art world.4f15abd25ad8acb5e57640a357c904ba

What do you think of the art scene in Riyadh? Anything you’d like to see changed?

The art scene is definitely growing. Art lovers are more invested in finding great artists and supporting them. I personally want to meet more artists within the community to learn from them and get inspired by them.

Who are your role models?

My family members, my patients, and I gotta say my cat! He’s living the life!3fall

What does being creative mean to you?

It means the ability to be free in expression in any media. It is the ability to talk with words, music notes, paint strokes, and body language. It’s being human.

Favorite piece of artwork by someone else.

This one is hard. I think Death and Life by Gustav Klimt was the first to pop into my mind. I stood in front of that painting a good half hour just in awe.