Customers in Gaza Strip get first taste of coffee-to-your-door service

Source: AFP Published: 2020/7/29 10:18:40

A shop owner sips a cup of coffee in the southern Gaza Strip on July 13. Photo: AFP

With a practiced hand, a courier balances a tray of steaming cups and with the other grips his bicycle handlebars as he weaves between cars in the crowded Gaza Strip.

Shaaban Hamuda's modest coffee on wheels business is giving the coastal Palestinian territory its first taste of a delivery service inspired by the likes of Uber Eats or Deliveroo. 

There are no vividly-colored bulky backpacks as is customary in Europe and North America, just a tray and a few cups of hot Arabic coffee, covered with foil to avoid splashing and cooling. 

Hamuda, 31, a business management graduate, launched his two-wheeled hot drink service in May, from his small stand near Rafah market, in the southern Gaza Strip. 

A stove, a few saucepans and dozens of cardboard cups: everything to prepare cafe au lait, Arabic coffee and mint tea. 

Customers only need to contact him on WhatsApp for one of his employees to prepare the order. 

Then a delivery man gets on his cycle and rushes the steaming drink to the customer.

"People like what is new. I have received encouragement from many people," said Hamuda, who charges only for the beverage. Delivery is free.

"We use cycles to attract the attention of the public and it has proven to be effective," he told AFP.

It was through watching YouTube that the father-of-two came across the trend of home-delivery meals by bicycle, a service that has grown popular worldwide. 

The young entrepreneur reports satisfactory revenues, but said sales have fallen since the outbreak of COVID-19. 

The Gaza Strip, with an estimated population of 2 million, has been relatively spared by the pandemic, with just over 75 cases, one of whom has died.

But as elsewhere the crisis has depressed economic activity in Gaza, where poverty and unemployment rates are both above 50 percent. 

Sameh Juda, who owns a perfume shop, was seduced by the smell of Hamuda's coffee.

"I started by ordering a small weekly coffee and now it's one a day," he said with a grin. 

"Shaaban's idea is good and innovative, and in addition it is very profitable since the bikes do not require fuel," he said.

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