Drinking coffee is a traditional social activity in many cultures, and Arabic coffee is no different. Arabic coffee is traditionally prepared by boiling it on the stove in a small pot or Arabic coffee maker known as a briki. When it’s ready, it’s served in ornate Arabic coffee cups known as a dallah. While there are several different versions of this coffee, Arabic coffee can usually be expected to be served strong and without any additional sweetener, with added cardamom for flavor. Unlike many other types of coffee from around the world that have well-defined recipes and exact measurements to follow, Arabic coffee is generally passed down through generations, and might be a little different from family to family. A ‘heaped spoonful’ to measure the amount of coffee and a serving up to measure the water is the most common way to start this recipe. Arabic condiments include spices like nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom. If you want to learn how to make traditional Arabic coffee at home, keep reading to find out more.
What You Need?
To make Arabic coffee at home, you’ll need:
- 2 tablespoons finely ground coffee
- ¼ cup of water
- 1 tablespoon of ground cardamom
- Sugar to taste if desired
- Small coffee pot or Turkish briki
- Small coffee serving cup of demitasse
- Optional coffee and spice grinder
- Optional strainer
To make the coffee, follow these steps:
1. Set Up the Coffee Pot
Setting up the coffee pot is the first step in preparing Arabic coffee. Take a pan or a traditional briki, an Arabic coffee pot, and add water and sugar if desired. Bring to a boil over a medium heat. You don’t need an Arabic coffee set, although you may want to get one if you want a truly authentic experience.
2. Add Coffee and Spices
Once the water has been brought to a boil, carefully add your ground coffee and cardamom.
3. Return to a Boil
Allow the mixture to return to a boil and keep a close eye on it since this will happen quite quickly. The mixture will foam, and at this point you should lift the pot off the heat briefly to allow the foam to subside.
Once the foam has settled, return your pot or briki to the heat and allow it to reach a boil and the mixture to foam again. Remove it to let the foam settle a second time. This should be done at least twice to get the texture of the foam right.
5. Serve the Coffee
Your Arabic coffee is ready to drink. Pour it carefully into an Arabic coffee carafe or small coffee cups. If you want a smoother coffee, pour it through a strainer.
More to Consider When Making Arabic Coffee
Arabic style coffee is a type of coffee that is characterized by how it is prepared rather than the specific coffee type. Any kind of coffee beans can be used to make Arabic coffee, although you should always use finely ground beans. For the best results, use freshly roasted, freshly ground coffee beans. Ideally, you should grind the beans yourself immediately before brewing the coffee using a burr grinder.
Traditionally, Arabic coffee is served by hosts or at an Arabic coffee shop unstrained, with the fine coffee grounds settling at the bottom of the pot. If your grounds are floating in the coffee, you can add a small amount of cold water to help them settle to the bottom of the pot. It’s normal to leave the last sip of coffee in your cup when drinking Arabic coffee to avoid getting a mouthful of coffee grounds. But, if you prefer smooth coffee and don’t like the idea of the grounds being in your cup, it will taste just as nice if you use a strainer.
The cardamom that you use can be either pre-ground or in whole pods that you grind yourself. As with coffee, using freshly-ground cardamom will produce the strongest flavor. You can grind your coffee beans and cardamom pods either together or separately. However, for convenience, pre-ground cardamom can also produce delicious results.
Which Country Does Arabic Coffee Come From?
When you hear about Arabic coffee, you may be wondering which country it actually comes from. Arabic refers to twenty-two countries including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Egypt, that make up the middle east. Each region has its own twist for Arabic coffee, and you will often find that different families have slightly different recipes and methods too. One thing that they all have in common is that the coffee is always served black, and no milk is used.
Turkish coffee isn’t prepared with cardamon and includes a little bit of sugar. Coffee beans are ground very finely until they are a powder. If you visit a Turkish family, it’s a tradition for the host to ask their guests how they would like their coffee, and customize the sugar added in line with preferences. It’s custom to only drink one cup, which is traditionally served with sweet treats like Turkish delights. Turkish coffee has a significant role in marriage, with the bride serving coffee to her groom and his family on the day.
Saudi Arabians prepare their coffee in the same method detailed above. For Arabic coffee Saudi style, you can use any roast coffee, but most of the time, a light roast is the top choice, with the additional of saffron and cloves. Traditionally, Saudi Arabian coffee is served with dates.
Lebanese coffee is made to be even stronger than a shot of espresso, with around 1.5oz of water per teaspoon of coffee in the recipe. Some people like to add sugar and cardamom.
The traditional coffee in Egypt is very similar to Turkish coffee. However, here you are more likely to see the addition of more spices including nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom.
The Culture Behind Arabic Coffee
In Arab societies, preparing coffee for guests is a guidepost for hospitality and quite a ceremonial affair. Traditionally, coffee beans are first selected and roasted for the ritual of welcoming guests. A mortar and pestle are traditionally used to grind the beans, although it’s not uncommon for an electric coffee grinder to be used today in more modern homes. The coffee is prepared and served in small Arabic coffee cups to share with guests. There is often an unspoken etiquette for drinking coffee that is passed down the generations. Elders are always served first, and not participating in the traditional is considered rude.
In Arabic culture, every occasion comes with a serving of coffee including births, weddings, and futures. Coffee is served more bitter for the somber events, while sweet treats will usually accompany the coffee in happier circumstances. The serving of coffee might take some getting used to if you are not familiar with the customs of this culture. However, if you are planning to visit an Arabic country, it’s certainly something to embrace as it represents the hospitality of the people and the honor of serving and getting together with family, friends, and guests that is a deeply rooted way of life here.
Buying an Arabic Coffee Set
If you are serious about making Arabic coffee at home, you’ll need an Arabic coffee set. While you can use any stovetop suitable pot and coffee cups, the traditional briki and dallah will make the experience all the more authentic. Some main things to consider when purchasing a briki include:
There are various brands of briki available with different sizes to choose from. Consider how many people you’ll be making coffee for to pick a briki that is just the right size to satisfy everybody’s coffee craving.
Ideally, you will want to choose a briki that is made with a strong, durable material that can withstand the heat of your stove and the boiled coffee.
Since the briki can get fairly hot when used to prepare coffee, it’s important to consider the safety features, especially the handle. You should choose a briki with a sturdy, heat resistant handle to ensure that you are safe while transferring the coffee from the briki to the dallah.
There are plenty of different colors and designs to choose from when picking a briki. You can opt for more traditional colors and ornate patterns or pick a more sleek and modern design depending on your preferences.
Before purchasing a briki, it’s a good idea to spend some time researching it online to find out more about what other customers have had to say about the product. Look out for opinions on durability, ease of use, and safety.
In Arabic countries, coffee is more than just a drink – it’s a way of life and a traditional part of hosting guests, meeting with friends, and big events.