Middle East 2023


Congratulations to our
A shot in the dark 2023 Winners!

What an amazing week it has been! The competition has been fierce and we are already full of ideas and updates for the 2024 Season!

But for now we take a moment to appreciate the Winners for 2023 who triumphed in a field of 27 Roasters!

1. Ajeyudu Pathuri – Brewing Gadgets

2. Adeola Peter Akingbade – Laura Coffee & Bakery

3. Emmanuel Verola – Gold Box Coffee Roastery

The beauty of this competition is that the anonymity means the results are always a wonderful surprise. To do well in this competition, you also have to be skilled at blending and creating espresso recipes with your team, an often overlooked part of roastery life.

Ajey Pathuri, our 2023 Champion, is not a roaster in the traditional sense, as he is part of the vibrant Brewing Gadgets team. In fact, his role is to train people to use the piece of equipment that he used to roast his coffee submission, the Roest Sample Roaster. He entered the competition to challenge himself and make sure that he is at the top of his game as he guides other roasters through the learning process. He completed over 120 roasts before choosing the profile and screen sizes he wanted to submit. To say that he is details orientated would be a vast understatement. Huge congratulations!

Adeola Peter Akingbade of Laura Coffee & Bakery is obviously built for competition life, as he has had a busy time the last few months winning accolades, and now he can add A Shot in the Dark Runner Up to his list! Please go visit Laura Coffee in Abu Dhabi on Yas Island and if they have tiramisu on the bakery menu, just trust us and order one alongside your coffee roasted by Peter!

The Gold Box team does nothing in half measures and they proved that they maintain a consistently high quality of performance by placing 3rd this year! Well done to Emmanuel, this is an incredible achievement!

To all our competitors, thank you for participating and being part of this community, the feedback you will receive from Head Judge, Mike Mac Donald will be invaluable to your journey through coffee! It will be with you soon!

Thank you so much to all our incredible sponsors, this is a huge community effort and we look forward to growing it alongside amazing partners.

Thank you to Cafe Rider Roastery for accommodating the judging and workshop day, we felt so at home and welcomed and an educational and delicious time was had by all.

It was an amazing opportunity to engage with the producers, judges and most importantly, each other! 

WINNERS ANNOUNCEMENT: Hosted by La Marzocco at Akiba Dori

You can watch the Winners Announcement and see all the amazing photos from this fun and colourful night here.


For something a little different for the visitors to World of Coffee Dubai, we presented the Top 10 Cupping Coffees to the public to taste one coffee roasted 10 different ways. The feedback was wonderful and there was a lot of surprise around the fact that they were cupping the same coffee roasted with 10 different profiles and how much difference it makes to the final cup.

Find Full Competitor Profiles at links below

Laura Coffee And Bakery – Peter Akingbade

CLICK Coffee – Nasser AlMaamari

Empire Coffee – Bharath Chandagalu Govindanayaka

Gold Box Roastery – Emmanuel Verola

Cafe Rider Roastery Efril Prince Caminero


Magic Beans – Rima Alghanim

CMI Roastery – Bogdan Claudiu Prunila

Copper Roastery – Mohammad Reza Khadem Alhosseini

Neighbourhood Roastery – Rashed al Mazrouei

Neighbourhood Roastery – Josh Pailan

Doppio Roasters – Jonalyn Dela Pena

Azura The Coffee Company – Angelo Benedict Abordo

Brewing Gadgets Trading – Ajeyudu Pathuri



Windmill Cafe and Roastery – John Michael Sumarago

Altitude Roasters – Mohamad AlAdsani

White Leaf Coffee Roaster –  Saddam Hossein

Air Roastery – Rahmat Setiawan

Cazador Specialty Coffee Roastery – Abdulaziz Almarzooqi

Form Roastery – Kenneth Mark Daguyam

Brewlab Roastery – Runday Boyonas/Chard gallo

48east – Raditya Andaraga

48east – Hassan Dashti

48east – Momammad Dashti 

Independent – Sunny Kumar

OUR Partners

SUCAFINA Specialty Coffee – Official Green Competition Coffee Sponsor

Brewing Gadgets – Official Event Partner

Savor Brands – Official Packaging Partner

Genio Roasters – Presenting Global Partner of A Shot in the Dark

La Marzocco – Official Espresso Machine & Party partner

Helfezi – Official Grinder & Burr Partner

Kal Coffee – Official Distribution Partner Saudi Arabia

The Coffee Magazine – Official Hosts and Media Partner

Entries will open soon for the

2024 Cycle

Keep your eyes peeled for the announcement of the next competition!

You will receive your specialty coffee beans in your competition pack via courier when the competition begins. The beans will be fresh crop of something truly delicious. We can’t wait to taste your roasts of these beans!

Test your


And receive detailed feedback on your submissions.

Roasters are able to experiment with beans in the comfort of their own roastery to achieve the best flavour results. We believe it is important for you to work on your own equipment to achieve the best possible results.

Who will be crowned


The second edition of the competition wraps up in Jan 2024 in Dubai! Follow our social media to fond out how you can get involved!


What's included in your entry fee?


There are two challenges in this competition:
Cupping & Blending

All Competitors receive the exact same green coffee to roast. There are 3 coffees in each competition pack – One extremely high quality specialty coffee exclusively for the cupping challenge as well as two additional coffees for the blending challenge. Competitors may roast their competition coffee in their own roaster and on their own coffee roasting equipment. This Green Coffee will be sent out to all competitors at the same time.

All coffee will be blind judged by a team of coffee professionals using the specially formulated A Shot in the Dark scoresheets.


challenge one


Competitors submit 250g of the high quality specialty coffee used for the cupping challenge, roasted to its best potential and then submitted to the judges via courier with their roasting notes.

challenge two


Competitors will also have to roast and blend the additional two supplied coffees in addition to their original competition coffee. This will be roasted and blended for their best espresso recipe.


Frequently asked questions

  • What are the coffees?

You can find out all about. the amazing coffees, and the exclusive micro lot produced for this competition by our partners Sucafina Specialty here: https://www.ashotinthedark.coffee/the-coffees/

  • The entry fees are high, what are the benefits to my business?

Our main objective with this competition is to provide an educational platform to learn from detailed feedback provided on your roasts and to share in the community events from 20 – 22 January 2024.

We have also specifically designed the competition so that you can make back a large portion of the entry fee by retailing the remaining coffee you receive. We provide beautiful retail bags if you wish to use them and you can also sell this exclusive lot on bar if you have cafe customers.

  • The water is different in each region, how does this work?

Our incredible partners Brewing Gadgets have undertaken to get each competitors 10 litres of optimally designed water, so that you can have confidence that what you taste and what the judges will taste will be the same.

  • How much time will I have with the coffee?

You will have around 5 weeks to experiment with your roasts and plan resting/degassing time for your coffees that will be tasted on 18 & 19 January 2024

  • How is the judging done?

The judges use specifically designed scoresheets. These are sent to you with your competition packs along with a document outlining what each category means. The judges have both roasting experience and Q-grader qualifications.

  • What are the rules for the Espresso Blend?

You can use any ratio you wish for your espresso blend, but you must use all three coffees provided. You can provide us with an espresso recipe so that our ASITD Barista can pull the shots according to your wishes.

  • How do the judges provide feedback?

When you submit your coffees, you also submit detailed notes on your roasts (including a roast curve and flavour notes) and the blend. Michael Mac Donald, our Head Judge will use these notes to provide you with incredibly detailed feedback on what they tasted and what you can learn. This will be emailed to you shortly after the competition concludes.

THE JUDGING Panel 2023

Thank you so much to our esteemed judges.

Mike Mac Donald - Head Judge, Green Coffee Supply
Anička Marková - Sucafina Specialty
Sherryl Napit - ORE Coffee Roastery
Andrew Nicholson - Windrose Coffee

Baristas: Sitaram Napit (ORE Coffee), Charina Dela Cruz (Seed Coffee)

The entire competition is blind judged by a panel of Coffee Professionals (Q-graders + Roasters) in a cupping laboratory using the specially formulated A Shot in the Dark judging scoresheets and feedback forms. Each competitor receives detailed feedback regardless of their final placement.


Ready to test your roasting skills and compete for the title of A Shot in the Dark - Middle East Champion 2024?

Please fill in the form if you wish to receive updates when the 2024 competition season arrives.

Every Roaster that wishes to enter A Shot in the Dark, needs to fill out the online Entry Form below and pay the Entry Fee.

The Entry Fee is USD1000* and you can pay via Bank Transfer or PayPal

*Remember that you only submit 500g total coffee for judging, so you have around 23kg left to retail in the beautiful bags supplied OR you can serve your roast on bar. Both ways you can make back your entry fee. 



    Do you have any questions? Drop us a mail on the email address below!