You will recognize that it is impossible to visit an Arab country without going through the ritual of coffee. Strong and tight, black as tar and very bitter, it marks the palate with its strong taste and powerful scent.
We speak of Arab coffee for its method of preparation, slow to enjoy every moment, from the addition of the first coffee bean to serve it in the cups of the guests.
“El qahwa”, the Arabic term used even in foreign languages, is certainly the favorite drink of Arabs, to the point of punctuating their days.
Coffee, a sign of respect in the Middle East
Its tradition is still very respected, there we drink coffee with solemnity. The real tradition begins with the roasting of coffee. Arrange the grains in a frying pan and brown on the heat. When the grains are ready, we will then crush them with a mortar. The ground coffee is then steeped in water for about 30 minutes, so that the coffee is well permeated with the taste of the ground beans.
The preparation is done in the presence of the guests, in order to continue the exchanges. The coffee is then served in small cups and the guests know tacitly that it will be more respectful to take more more than once but not to overdo it. Two to three cups will ensure a perfect average.
The rite is roughly similar to the United Arab Emirates. Coffee is also a way to receive guests, to show them that they are welcomed and respected.
As in Saudi Arabia coffee is constantly brewed in the traditional coffee maker placed on the stove, do not tell them about an espresso machine! When the coffee is ready, the host will be responsible for serving the coffee. Respect requires that service begins with elders or those of the highest rank.
The person who receives the guests must serve each cup upright and especially not completely fill the cup. So the guests will be able to drink several cups, it is customary to drink two to three, when it is meant that this is enough, it will be necessary to shake the cup.
In these different countries, the coffee is flavored there, often with Cardamom, sometimes with a few cloves or even ginger. For the most luxurious coffees, we even allow ourselves the most expensive spice in the world: saffron.
In the Maghreb, sociable coffee
On the African continent, where coffee was born – it was first discovered and consumed in Ethiopia – the drink also tastes sacred. Egypt is a benchmark in the art of drinking coffee. The Egyptians also drink coffee Turkish-style, steeping the coffee in water, but to a lesser extent than in the Middle East.
On the other hand, we will take the time beforehand to carefully select the best coffee beans to prepare the black drink. The consumption of coffee in Egypt is a Sufi heritage. The Sufi brotherhoods introduced him into Egyptian culture, they used to serve him during prayers.
It is undoubtedly Cairo which represents the most Egyptian coffee culture, there are also the oldest cafes from all over and even from the Arab world. You can drink it on any occasion. By being invited to Egyptians, to the markets… He serves as a bond of sociability, for family reunions, from marriage to death. Coffee is also a moment of discussion in professional affairs, coffee will be served with respect before entering into the heart of the negotiations.
The coffee then spread to other Arab countries, including Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Although it has to compete with tea in these countries, coffee finds its place in the Maghreb, being the drink of social bonding especially for men outside.
Its preparation is much less sacred than in the Middle East, but just as much is its sharing.
Legend even says that the oldest coffee in the world could be found in Tunis, in the zaouia of Sidi Belhassen, a saint who would have introduced coffee to Tunisia. The zaouia, which still serves coffee, is therefore one of the first cafes to open on the continent and the guardian of the coffee tradition in the Maghreb?