All coffee lovers have a coffee routine whether it is grinding fresh beans adding grated nutmeg and cinnamon to a French press like myself, yelling made up words to a barista (another semi-made up marketing word) in a frantic international coffee chain, or your Sunday morning with the New York Times coffee. On the Arabian peninsula there is a coffee routine that has been occurring for hundreds of years. It is a ritual designed to make the guest feel welcome and relaxed.
Initially you are approached with a tray of dates and a golden flask called a fallah. The Arabic cup or finjaam is about the size of an espresso cup and is always held in the right hand and the coffee pot is always in the left, this applies to both the host server and the guest. Your cup is filled to about a quarter full, the bitter Arabic coffee is not served with sugar so unless you have a truly acquired taste for it, you will not want to drink a lot. Equally important is that it is a welcoming gesture, you should not have to wait for fifteen minutes for a steaming store bought brand to be drinkable. The smaller cups cool much quicker allowing you to enjoy it in a timely manner. The server will continue to stand by your side waiting until you finish. If you desire a second cup shake the finjaam when returning it to your host and this will signify your desire for an additional cup. If you have had enough simply hand it back. Coffee is served in this manner before and after dinner continuing to make you feel welcome. Although the hot coals in a desert Bedouin tent camp have been replaced with modern kitchen conveniences most of the technique and ritual have remained from earlier times.
Want to try it at home?
3/4 cup lightly roasted ground coffee (fine grind)
3 cups of water
4 table spoons of coarsely ground cardamon
4 table spoons of saffron water, heat 1/4 cup water and steep 3 to 4 saffron pieces for 5 minutes (optional)
Bring water to a boil. Add ground coffee and continue to boil for ten minutes. Remove from heat stir in the cardamon and saffron. Serve hot according to the above ritual.
Want to experience your own coffee ritual? Kopi Luwak in Bali, Vietnamese coffee in Viet Nam, or traditional Arabic coffee service. Contact the Travel Consultants at GW Nunn Adventures to book your coffee experience.