Arabic coffee refers to a sumptuously flavored version of coffee brewed from Arabica coffee beans that is one of the two prominent species of coffee beans, another being Robusta. Meticulously cultivated at an altitude ranging from 1,200 meters to 1,500 meters, Arabica coffee accounts for about 80% of the world’s coffee bean manufacture, and is considered exceptional for its superior taste and quality. In most Arab countries across the Middle East, serving coffee is an important part of their warm hospitality and tradition. In fact, they have developed their own unique way of brewing and preparing the coffee.
Believed to have been originated in Ethiopia, coffee has a long history dating back to the 9th century. The coffee’s origin is largely attributed to Kaldi – a goat herder, who first noticed the increased level of goats’ energy upon chewing certain berries. Based on the information from Kaldi, the local monastery’s Abbot did some experiment using these berries, which eventually turned out to be an energizing drink. It made its way to Middle Eastern and Northern African regions during the 15th century, and later on it traveled to Italy and other European regions as well as to Americas. Today, coffee is widely consumed across the world, and is especially lauded for its rich taste and tempting flavor.
Though unanimously referred to as Arabic coffee, it is categorized into two: Al-Qahwa (Saudi coffee) Turkish-style coffee. While Qahwa is prepared using heavily roasted beans, Turkish coffee is made with roasted and finely grounded Arabica coffee beans. In UAE, it is mostly called Khaleeji. The coffee beans are readily available in Arabic supermarkets, souks and even in malls. Speaking of its preparation, it is mostly made in a traditional coffee pot, namely, dallah. A variety of items such as cardamom, cloves, and saffron, in addition to coarsely grounded Arabic coffee beans, can be used for its making. Add ground coffee followed by cardamom and cloves to the boiling water. After 10 minutes, remove it from the heat and allow the grounded coffee beans to settle down. Then strain and transfer the steaming coffee into a thermo flask.
A small cup of brewed Arabic coffee is almost free of any calories or fat. However, its protein content in very minimal amount adds up to its calorie. Likewise, though Arabic coffee does not contain carbohydrates, the consumption of coffee with sugar or cream will certainly reflect its carbohydrate levels.
Major studies reveal that the Arabic coffee’s intake can minimize the onset of such devastating ailments as Type II diabetes, dementia, heart diseases, and even certain types of cancer. That said, make it a point to take coffee in moderate quantity due to the presence of caffeine, which in turn can be causative for the narrowing of blood vessels. Likewise, people with conditions such as high blood pressure and insomnia should avoid or cut down the intake of coffee.
Ingrained in customs and hospitality, Arabic coffee finds a prominent position in traditional Arabic feasts, special occasions such as Ramadan and Eid, and even during social gatherings as well as business meetings. It is not only unique in terms of its preparation but also for its serving and the way it’s savored. Finjaan – a cute but tiny and delicate cup – is used to serve Arabic coffee. At most, it will be only half-filled, and the guest should have at least one cup of Arabic coffee, although the custom is to intake three cups.