Arabic Qahwa Coffee, to me, is definitely the more sophisticated of the coffees found in the Middle East. It sits somewhere between the dark, bitter Turkish coffee & the very light, green Saudi coffee and is usually made with cardamom and/or cloves, saffron & rose water and served in little thimble like cups. It is still an acquired taste though, especially to those of us brought up on lattes & mochas!
The beans used are usually lightly roasted, resulting in a lighter coloured coffee and in many homes, the beans are usually ground by hand, I use a pestle and mortar for this, grinding the cardamom seeds at the same time. Yes, cardamom! However, if you’re not up to all that, go for a coarse ground light roast Arabica beans. Nothing that says Robusto!
Arabic coffee is usually served without sugar as it’s always accompanied by something sweet to nibble on, but in my experience, a little sugar for your guests is always appreciated! As for the spices, I usually omit the saffron but definitely use the other 3.
The coffee is boiled for about 10-15 minutes over a low flame in a coffee pot called a dallah, but you can just use a milk/small saucepan or if you have a Turkish Ibrik, (the gold pot in the picture) use that. It’s then filtered into a thermos type coffee pot when it remains hot while your guests enjoy their half filled cups – yes, you only ever fill the cups up halfway!
- 500ml water
- 2 tbsp coarsely ground light roast coffee
- 3 cardamoms, split
- 1 clove
- 4 strands saffron (optional)
- half tsp rose water
- Whichever coffee pot you are using to serve, fill it up with hot water to warm it up. Don't forget to empty it before trying to pour the Arabic coffee in!
- Bring the water to boil in a small saucepan or ibrik.
- Add coffee & simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add cardamom & clove and leave to simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Take off heat, add the rose water, stir, then strain through a sieve into the EMPTY coffee pot.
- Serve immediately, as mentioned, with something sweet & filling the cups only halfway up. Perfect with baklava.