Arabic Coffee Culture: An Introduction
Throughout Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa coffee has played a major role in nearly every aspect of the region’s culture. Below is a very, very brief introduction to Coffee's social significance in the Arab World.
Throughout the last 1,000 years drinking ground coffee moved from a drink brewed to help the Sufi pray all night to become the signature gesture of welcome, generosity and sophistication. In time different parts of the Middle East region focused on different aspects of their culture in relation to the tradition of drinking coffee.
In some parts of the Middle East marriages, contracts and even blood feuds were settled over a cup of the beloved Qahwa (Coffee). Coffee is always used to greet in certain parts of the Middle East, and it is still said today, that when a young man who is visiting a family household and refuses to drink coffee, it is a sign that they are about to ask you for something dear to your heart - for example, like your daughters hand in marriage or forgiveness. In either scenario, if their demand is accepted, the very best Qahwa is drank in celebration!
In many Arabic societies the phrase "let's have a cup of coffee together" is code for getting together to discuss news, mutual interests and agreements. In more traditional corners of Arabic society, the head of the household would always drink the first cup from any freshly brewed Qahwa to make sure that the quality is satisfactory for others to drink too - the head cannot afford to have his reputation tarnished by serving poor quality coffee to others. This is known as "finjan al hail".
As mentioned prior, Coffee is served and drank the instant visitors arrive. And Bedouins in particular are renowned for creating passionate poetry and songs about the serving of coffee to their visitors; more often than not before they were able to dismount from their horses. This is known as “finjan aldaif".
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