How to: make Arabic coffee

Khalid Al Mulla of Dubai’s Coffee Museum offers a guide to the process of brewing the totemic drink of the Middle East

Arabic qahwah is not just a beverage, it is an aromatic distillation of Arab culture and hospitality, with a far deeper resonance in society than a skinny cappuccino.

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The coffee

Unlike European coffee, which is made by forcing hot water through ground coffee, qahwah is made by boiling the coffee and water together with spices in a pot called a briq, or in a dallah.

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Short and sweet

Arabic coffee is served in small but ferociously strong portions, and sipped from tiny cups called fenjaan. It can be flavoured with green cardamom, saffron, ginger, cloves and even rosewater.

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The roast

It is custom to roast and grind your own beans. The Bedouin roast the beans on an open fire – you can roast them in your oven at 180-200°C till they reach a golden-brown colour.

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Home brew

Use a ratio of 1tbsp coffee to 1.5 cups of water. Bring water to the boil. Add the coffee spoon-by-spoon and stir with a metal paddle or mehmass. Leave to stand for a few minutes.

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Serve and give thanks

Pour the coffee, putting a little into each cup at a time, then return to top up, so flavours are distributed evenly. Finish with the blessing “daymeh”; “May we always drink coffee like this”.