Arabic Coffee1 April 2008 in General
Arabic coffee is at all times brewed and only small amounts at a time are made. The cup that the beverage is served in is small because the coffee is extremely strong so not much needs to be consumed. The standard coffee cup holds about a quarter of a typical measuring cup. Arabic coffee is drunk when hot but the grounds have to be completely settled first, so the coffee is never stirred and only the fluid on the top is consumed.
The best Arabic coffee is produced from freshly roasted ground beans. Most people like to roast and grind the beans themselves to achieve their specific liking. Some prefer Mocha beans from Yemen due to its subtle taste and strong smell. Others prefer the Brazil beans which is said to be the most enriched in flavour. Generally various types of beans are mixed together.
The art of producing good Arabic coffee consists of the beans being roasted over a charcoal fire and ground in a stone mortar. Both processes should take place a few minutes prior to the coffee being brewed in order to retain its rich flavour. Normally the process of making Arabic coffee includes the sugar being dissolved in water before the powdered coffee is added. Customarily a leveled teaspoon of sugar as well as a loaded teaspoon of ground coffee is used with every cup of water for each serving.
Unlike other coffee mixtures, sugar is mixed into Arabic coffee during the brewing process and not when it is being served. The quantity of sugar that is added to the coffee must suit a specific occasion. For happy events, more sugar is added; this excludes coffee that is served after dinner which is generally sweetened lightly. So for special occasions such as weddings, birthdays as well as christenings, coffee is prepared sweet. If it is a sad occasion the coffee is made bitter.
The process involves sugar and water both being boiled until clear. Then the ground coffee is added and mixed in well. The mixture is left to come to a boil until foam reaches to the top of the pot. The pot which has a long handle is then taken from the fire and then is hit against the side of the stove for the foaming to be reduced. The boiling process is repeated at least two more times. When removed the third time a small number of drops of cold water can be put in to help settle the grounds. Right afterwards it is poured in small cups for serving before the grounds settle in the bottom of the pot.
Orange blossom essence can be served with the Arabic coffee for additional flavour. Some individuals may add a few cardoman seeds to the pot while the coffee is still being brewed. The flavour of cardoman differentiates the coffee that is served in Saudi Arabia. In that region the guest is served as many cups of coffee as desired, however it is not traditional in Lebanon to suggest a second cup of Arabic coffee at the same sitting.
Hospitality and kindness have always been of much importance to an Arab host. Whether for a special occasion, or just a visit from neighbours, Arabic coffee is definitely an integral part of being social.
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