In general, there is a lot of confusion with the generic denomination of Arab coffee because it is often confused with Turkish coffee, Lebanese coffee, or with other variants such as coffee in the sand, which are also typical of those regions but which do not follow the same recipe that we explain here. Arabic coffee in many countries is called gahwa or kahwa (Arabic for coffee).
In order not to have any doubts about what Arabic coffee is and what it is not, we are going to explain it in a very concise way: Arabic coffee is a coffee with spices (we will see which ones later), and to be very simple we could say that it is a flavoured coffee.
This detail is much more important to make an authentic Arabic coffee than the method of preparation or the technique we use to make it. Turkish coffee, which we mentioned earlier, is made in a very similar way but without spices, for example.
The method of preparation is similar to that used with Arabic tea, mixing the ingredients in water and then bringing it all to a boil but without boiling for a long time. This preparation is also known as Arabian coffee or Moroccan coffee. As is the case with many Eastern traditions, it is called by different names depending on the region where it is practised.
Ingredients for making authentic Arabian spiced coffee
The ingredients of Arabian coffee are as follows:
- Coffee (preferably Arabic coffee beans… although we understand that this may be difficult to obtain in some countries).
The spices in Arabic coffee are optional and are added to taste. However, if we have to refer to a typical and traditional variant, we will opt for saffron, cinnamon and cardamom. However, some people also use a little oregano, cloves, nutmeg, a pinch of pepper, star anise and so on.
Authentic Arabic coffee is made in a copper coffee machine or a coffee jug, but the closest thing we usually have at home is the traditional Italian coffee pot. One of these will do, although remember that typical Arab coffee is not espresso and is not prepared with a filter.
If you have them at home, you can also use one of the classic Arabic teapots or coffee jugs with a handle (slightly larger than the smaller Turkish or Ibrik coffee pots).
How is Arabic coffee made? Step-by-step recipe
Time required: 10 minutes.
Regardless of the spices and the type of coffee you use to make it, the recipe for Arabic coffee is easy and always follows a series of fixed steps. These are as follows:
- Pour the water into an Arabic coffee pot or similar container that you can put on the stove
Remember to use as much water as the amount of coffee you want to make.
- Pour all the ingredients into the water together
First the ground coffee, and then the spices that you use in the measure that you prefer. As a tip, we recommend that you always use coffee beans and grind them just before pouring them into the coffee maker. And if you use whole cardamom seeds, grind them a little before adding them to the water.
- Stir the mixture well
It is very important that all the ingredients are evenly distributed and mixed into the water. Otherwise, when it reaches boiling point, the aromas will not come out balanced.
- Once the ingredients have been stirred and mixed, place on the heat and bring to the boil
Remove the coffee pot from the heat as soon as the first bubbles or foam start to appear. Do not take too long.
What is Arab coffee-like, and what does it taste like? Well, as you can imagine, it is a very aromatic coffee, like everything that permeates Arab cuisine. The flavour and aromas are very different from what we are used to tasting in other countries, and in general terms, it is a somewhat lighter coffee (less full-bodied) but with a more intense flavour than the ones we drink here.
Tips before preparing traditional Arabic coffee
Arab coffee has a component of ritual and tradition that is absolutely key to its personality. For this reason, and in addition to knowing how to make the Arab coffee recipe with the steps we have given you, you should also take into account some details to achieve a rounded and authentic experience.
- Arabian coffee does not usually contain sugar, mainly for two reasons: first, the spices perform the same function. Secondly, Arabian coffee is usually served with typical sweets, or really sweet foods such as dates, dried apricots or some nuts. Nor is it usually drunk with milk.
- The Arab coffee ritual is part of the intangible heritage of humanity. It is much more than just offering a drink: it is considered a symbol of generosity and hospitality typical of this culture.
- Strictly speaking, we should prepare it with Arabian coffee beans, roasting them very briefly (you could even roast them in a pan at home) and crushing them in a mortar, pounding the beans well.
- Arabian coffee cups are not usually filled to capacity and should be served in small cups or small glasses.
- When serving it straight from the coffee pot, it should be served slowly because the coffee grounds and grounds should not get into the cup. Some people even strain the coffee through a very fine sieve to avoid this.
- When the coffee is served, it should not be drunk immediately. Wait a few seconds for the coffee and any residue to sink to the bottom of the cup.