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Four secrets of Bedouin coffee

fawaz preparing bedouin coffee
Coffee became part of the Bedouin culture as the caravans transported the coffee from Aqaba to Iran and Irak. The Arabica coffee originated from Yemen and was transported to Aqaba by boat. At that time, Jordan was an important coffee trading country. In this blog, we want to share some secrets with you about Bedouin coffee.

#1 Bedouin coffee: a way of life

During holidays like Eid, weddings, and periods of mourning, we serve coffee frequently. For us, Bedouin coffee is more than just a drink. It is a symbol of hospitality and trust. Offering a cup of coffee to someone and having it accepted shows mutual goodwill. It also plays an essential role in our way of doing business, negotiating, and discussing marriage. For example, if one of us has a problem with another person, the family goes to the other person’s family to resolve the dispute. When the host asks them to drink coffee, it means the problem is solved.

#2 Bedouin coffee types

We have two types of coffee:

  • Qahwa sada, which is plain coffee
  • Qahwa helwe, which is sweet coffee

Qahwa helwe comes with three different levels of sugar:

  • Qahwa ariha, which is lightly sweetened
  • Qahwa mazboot, which is moderately sweetened
  • Qahwa ziyada which is very sweetened

The sugar is added during the preparation process. So, if possible, inform your host upfront about your wishes.

#3 Coffee etiquette

The coffee is served in small quantities in small cups with no handles. You can have three cups of coffee. The first cup is for the soul, the second is for the sword, and the third is because you are the guest. If you want a refill, hand your cup to your host. In case you had enough, shake the cup before giving it to your host. Even if you are no coffee fan at all, be polite and sensitive to the local traditions. And accept at least one cup if your host offers it.

#4 Traditional way to prepare Bedouin-style coffee

Hereafter you find a step-by-step plan to make traditional Bedouin coffee.

  • Roast the green Arabic beans in a pan over the fire and enjoy the pleasant smell of roasting beans.
  • Boil water in a pot or pan over the fire.
  • Grind the roasted beans with a mortar called mehbash and pestle and smell the intense coffee aroma.
  • Grind cardamom pods, and enjoy another aroma sensation in your nose.
  • Put the coffee and cardamom together in the coffee pot.
  • Pour the boiled water on the coffee and cardamom.
  • Infuse and boil until it has the perfect taste.
  • Now enjoy your robust and tasty coffee.

Did you know that famous coffee brands share information about Bedouin coffee? Have a look at the side of Lavazza. They have a special section for history and coffee culture.

2 Responses

  1. This brings back memories, l lived in Saudi Arabia in 1980s. And traveled much.

  2. Reading about Gertrude Bell’s travels, I am struck by the amount of coffee she drank, especially in the evening. Either that coffee was not very caffeinated, or she was remarkable in caffeine resistance, in addition to all her other skills. As often as not she was joining her ArAb camel drivers around the evening campfire.

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