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20 August 2014

Coffee; Our Morning Friend

By: Demitri Awwad

It is highly unlikely to visit a family in the Middle East without being offered tea or coffee, the latter, however, is the more preferable of the two. Perhaps it's the rich aroma from the cardamom seeds or the simple fact that generation after generation for many years people in this region have sipped down this nectar of the Gods.

In a society where coffee is as important as sugar, water, and flour, it is without a doubt a subject we wanted to highlight for our international friends, to bring them into this exciting world of "Qahwa", as known in Arabic.

    Nour Ed-Deen, sells coffee at his shop in Bethlehem

For almost 400 years Palestine was occupied by the Ottoman Empire, their presence in the region brought about a few new amenities and goods, of the most appreciated was the "Turkish Coffee," known by many as such.  The founders of coffee, however, were the Yemenites who carried it on to Egypt, but because the Turkish Empire was in town upon its arrival, many refer to it as "Turkish Coffee" in Palestine.  Coffee in the region, however, isn't brewed in the same fashion as is done in the Western part of the world but instead, is made in a small metal pot called "ibrik or cezves ."  In simple terms, Arabic coffee is an unfiltered boiled coffee, served black and with no added cream with a varied amount of sugar that is mixed in the pot, not on the side.

One group that still does coffee the old fashion way are the Bedouin tribes, who roast the coffee beans over a fire and grind it very well and brew it afterward for several hours.

The process of making coffee is quite simple. You purchase fresh coffee beans "blonde or dark," majority opt for a mix of both with dark being more in quantity; the coffee expert will then combine both the dark and blonde beans with a few seeds of cardamom. (Note: ask for the shopkeeper to grind the cardamom separately then mix afterward with ground coffee).

The initial phase of making coffee is elementary, with the first obvious step being the process of boiling the water and then once hot enough adding a bit of sugar and coffee. The trickiest part is not letting the coffee overflow out of the pot and keeping it on the heat source, removing it every few seconds till the coffee has settled, and the surface is transparent.  The container is then set aside for the "coffee residue" to sink at the bottom and afterward poured into small cups known as "Finjan".

Turkish coffee will certainly remain an "awe" of society in this part of the world, and whether one is attending a celebration of a sort or even during hectic moments, they are most likely to be offered a cup or two. It is, however,  noted, that during a somber occasion such as a funeral coffee will be served bitter and quite dark. In an atmosphere of which the occasion is a positive one and even during a family visit, it is customary to say the word " Dayma" after drinking your cup, meaning "always," as if to say, I hope to always drink with such good company in a good atmosphere.




Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine