Celebrate International Coffee Day with Arabic coffee

Today is International Coffee Day, and coffee lovers around the world should treat themselves to more than the usual brew or cappuccino to celebrate this wonderful occasion. Here in Dubai, we put a spotlight on the Middle East's beloved coffee variant, the traditional Arabic coffee.

Traditional Arabic coffee is more than just a hot beverage for the Arabs. In the Gulf countries like the UAE, serving coffee is an age-old tradition that reflects its Bedouin heritage, and is symbolic of hospitality in the region. The Bedouins of old used to cook their coffee in copper pots over beds of coal on the desert sand. Today, kitchens and stoves replace the charcoal and the sand, but the method of making Arabic coffee remains the same.

Photo credit: eastep.wordpress.com

What makes Arabic coffee unique is the way in which it is prepared. The coffee grounds are boiled, not filtered or percolated, which lends a distinctive flavor to the drink. Spices such as cardamom, saffron, cloves, and ginger are then added to enhance its flavor and aroma.

This remarkable Arabic blend is usually poured from an ornate brass or copper pot called dallah into a small cup called finjaan. The elegant dallah looks like a large Aladdin’s lamp with a long spout while the finjaan is no bigger than an espresso cup. The finjaan is only filled up to a quarter, because Arabic coffee is very bitter, and it is never drunk with sugar and milk. Sometimes, it is served with dates to ease the bitter taste.

Photo credit: saffronchick.blogspot.ae
Unfortunately, you cannot easily order the authentic blend from Starbucks or Costa Coffee. Traditional Arabic coffee in Dubai is available in select restaurants, hotels, and traditional coffee shops like Mama Tani in Jumeira, Al Musaharati in Garhoud, Jowhara al Khair in Barsha, and many others. Traditional Arabic coffee is also served to welcome guests onboard a nostalgic dhow cruise dinner along Dubai Creek or Dubai Marina. Arabic coffee preparation is also an added attraction in desert safaris.

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