Coffee is a widely consumed beverage and most of the people are aware of the European or American versions only. However, coffee wasn’t discovered or used in the West first. It was discovered in Ethiopia and used as a drink in Yemen. So, this delicious drink is of Middle Eastern origin. Obviously, there is a sharp contrast in the modern version of coffee and the traditional Arabic version. But there are different versions of Arabic coffee too. People of different regions like Yemen, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Turkey make Arabic coffee differently. What makes the coffee of every region unique is the selection of beans, method of roasting, traditions attached to it, and the style of serving. So, get ready for a long ride to know everything about Arabic coffee.
Arabic Coffee Origins
As I said before that coffee was discovered in Ethiopia, it was discovered in the 11th century and they were blending the seeds to make the dough. This dough was used in different food products. Now, how these little beans became so famous is an interesting question. Things like this travel and are introduced in other parts of the world. So it was cultivated as a drink in the 14th century in Yemen. That’s where the word qahwa comes from. After that, it traveled to Cairo and Mecca. Then it was introduced in Turkey by the Ottoman Governor of Yemen – Ozdemir Pasha. Ottomans were the first to roast the beans over the fire, ground them and boil them in water.
Different Types of Beans
The first thing that makes a difference is the types of beans. There are two main types of beans: Arabica and Robusta. These are their characteristics:
- Superior taste
- Slightly larger beans
- Higher sugar and fat content as compared to Robusta
- More prone to disease and pests
- They self-pollinate which means that they have less genetic diversity
- Best for all types of roasts
- Inferior taste
- Smaller beans
- Higher chlorogenic acid (CGA) and caffeine
- Less risk of catching disease and pests
- Their cross-pollination results in healthier plants
- Best for espresso and dark roasts
Finally, different blends and flavors in different countries show a variety in the coffee cultures of these areas. Spices like ginger, cardamom, cloves, and saffron add a little more kick in the flavor along with a specific type of beans roasted in a particular way.
Arabic Coffee Culture
Arabic coffee is not just different than European and American coffee. It’s different in Middle Eastern countries as well. For example, if you go to Lebanon and ask for Turkish coffee, they will stare at you because it’s called “Arabic coffee”. And if you go to Lebanon and ask for a coffee that has no foam then you have done something wrong. “Oh boy! How can you drink a coffee with no face?” This is because the Egyptians prepare coffee the Turkish way with foam and this foam is called the coffee’s face. Lebanese, on the other hand, boil it just once and don’t make foamy coffee. Don’t get confused. It’s just the way it is.
To make things simple, the difference is only because of the types of beans, roasting method, the spices added (blends), and the way people like to drink it. These four factors make the whole difference when it comes to the coffee in Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Gulf etc. As you already know that coffee is prepared the same way in Egypt and Turkey, we should focus on other countries. Read the article Interesting Facts about Turkish coffee to learn how it’s prepared.
Varieties of Arabic Coffee
As far as other countries are concerned, there are four main blends that are widely known. These are Ramallah, Dimashq, Amman, and Riyadh. These blends signify the type of coffee that is traditionally served in Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia respectively. So, the coffee in Palestine is made with medium roast beans and cardamom, Syrians like pure dark roast coffee, add cardamom to the dark roast coffee and you get what is served in Jordan, and finally, the golden roasted coffee beans are grounded with cardamom in Saudi Arabia to make delicious coffee.
There is a huge variety in the flavors of coffee if you start talking about all the countries. So, it is sufficient to say that every flavor and the traditions attached with it have their own beauty. Explore all of them and you get a unique collage of cultures and flavors.
Finally, what’s left is how Gulf Arabs like their coffee. If you want to buy coffee in the Gulf that tastes good, ask for “wild colored coffee”. If you say that phrase, you will get light colored coffee beans from Yemen that are mildly roasted. The seller will also add green cardamom, saffron, and cinnamon sticks. He will then grind all the ingredients and you will have a very nice coffee powder. Make the coffee at home and enjoy it.
Preparation of Arabic Coffee
Here is a pretty standard way of making Arabic coffee.
Ingredients for 2 Servings:
- Arabic coffee – 3 tbsp
- Half cup rose water
- 10 cardamom pods
- Cardamom seeds – 1/4 tsp
- Toast your cardamom pods over high heat for 2 minutes and then crush them with a mortar and pestle.
- Take a pot and add fresh ground coffee and crushed cardamom. Fill it with water.
- Put it on the stove and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
- After that, strain the coffee and put it back on the heat to boil it.
- Just before serving, add cardamom seeds and rose water.
Enjoy this tasty arabic coffee with dates. Coffee is a prominent part of Arabic culture. It’s embedded in traditions, it’s fragrant and it’s tasty. In simple words, there are no words to describe the pleasure it gives.