Walking into Wild Coffee Bar in Kuwait, you feel like you’re entering a cabin somewhere in the woods. It feels cozy and welcoming. Your eyes search for a fireplace, but instead find a wall bursting with colorful posters promoting messages of equality, kindness, and positivity.
Unbeknownst to those strolling in and out, we all tread on recycled floorboards cut down and planed by Sarah Al-Rukhayyes. Some of them scrawled with handwritten messages by Sarah, describing what she wished for the space and the community it was about to form.
Wild Coffee Bar was officially opened by Sarah Al-Rukhayyes, Sarah Hamad Al-Ameeri, and Bader Al-Sayed in 2017 simply because both Sarah’s loved coffee and thought it was the ideal amalgamation for opening a coffee shop.
“I like coffee, my other partner likes coffee – it’s funny because he [Bader] doesn’t like coffee, but that’s what you need in a coffee shop, right?” Sarah Al-Rukhayyes said. “Not everybody needs to love coffee because essentially coffee shops were a place for people to come together and discuss ideas, concepts, and movements.”
Bader came into the picture a little later when he decided to volunteer at Wild. He then proposed the idea of joining as a third partner and according to Sarah Al-Rukhayyes, he fit in like the missing puzzle piece. Together, the trio created a space where everybody could come together and feel like they’re home.
“It’s everybody’s hangout; everyone is welcome, nobody is excluded. You come; you’re family,” Sarah Al-Rukhayyes said. “We hangout, we might play a game or two, we might talk about something deep, but all in all, it’s about having a good time.”
And a good time is exactly what people have when they’re there. During the first weeks of Wild’s opening, a “really reserved and super proper” girl came into the cafe, according to Sarah Al-Rukhayyes. Sarah’s parents and a bunch of her friends were playing a game and in the process, making a lot of noise. Her dad turned to the girl and apologized in case they had bothered her with all the commotion. She laughed and told him she didn’t mind and that she felt she was sitting in on a family gathering.
That one sentence made Sarah Al-Rukhayyes really proud because, “that’s exactly what I want you to feel.”
Since the concept of specialty coffee wasn’t new to Kuwait, the three had to ensure it was about more than just coffee.
“The Kuwaiti population is educated when it comes to coffee. If it’s not good coffee, people won’t buy it,” Sarah Al-Rukhayyes said. “If you have good coffee, then what more can you make it do? It’s a good thing, but if you can push the envelope, then push [it].”
Aside from good coffee, Wild tries to serve something a little extra by getting involved with the community and different charities. Wild has collaborated with OX Adventure, a community organization based in Kuwait that organizes volunteering and challenging travel adventures, through both projects and by traveling with them and serving Wild coffee to the travelers.
Travelers can then come back to Wild, sit and have the same cup of coffee and reminisce about their experience. “Bader learns exactly how this person likes their coffee. So when they come here, it’s personalized,” Sarah Al-Rukhayyes said. “I’m making you the coffee that you first had in Nepal and I’m bringing that experience back to you here; allowing you to have the same kind of ambience that you had in the mountains.”
The OX Adventure trips are challenging and involve a lot of physical work; whether it’s volunteering to help renovate a school in Vietnam, or hiking one of the mountain ranges in Nepal. Having that cup of coffee in the morning could be giving them the strength to handle the challenges thrown at them throughout the day, according to Sarah Al-Rukhayyes.
“When you wake up in the morning, when you have a really good cup of coffee; you feel like you can take on anything,” Sarah Al-Rukhayyes said. “I feel like with OX Adventure, they’re pushing you to go in deep within yourself and do things that you’re not usually comfortable with so having that little ‘creature comfort’ of coffee is such a nice boost.”
Whenever a member of the community has something to share, Wild gives them the opportunity to showcase it, according to Bader. Khaled Al-Rashidi, one of their regulars, founded a brand – Mana Orite – that promotes equality in all its shapes and forms. The Wild team hung up posters promoting his brand, as well as gave him a space to put an installation showcasing one of the t-shirt collections.
When Leen Al-Mandeel and Reem Al-Tuwaijri created a board game called Shino, essentially a Kuwaiti version of popular board game Taboo, Wild began to sell it, also providing it for customers to play in store.
“These are all brands that we believe in too. We strengthen them because they strengthen us; it’s a symbiotic relationship,” Sarah Al-Rukhayyes said. “Putting their work up is our small way of trying to create a platform to showcase these people that are doing really amazing things.”
Words by Reham Al-Awadhi