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Posted On: 30 July 2018 12:00 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:00 pm

Arabic coffee: a rich Qatari tradition

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Arabic Coffee

Arabic coffee is a Qatari must-have hot beverage that will delight your taste buds and awaken your senses. It’s made from Arabica coffee beans and tastes very different from the coffee we usually drink. It is served without milk and sugar; it has a unique taste that is light and yet full of flavor. Once you’ve tasted it, you won’t be able to stop.

Where it all started

It is believed that Arabica coffee came from Ethiopia where it may have been used as early as the 9th century. According to a well-known legend of the area, it is believed that a goat herder, Kaldi, observed how his goats became more active and energetic when they chewed certain beans. This intrigued him and experimenting with the bean led to the discovery that these coffee beans could be used to make an energizing beverage.

Arabica coffee beans

With time, the beverage made from the Arabica coffee beans became more refined and six centuries later, this coffee reached the lands of North Africa and the Middle East in the 15th century, where it became very popular at grand social functions and lavish feasts. It travelled to Europe and the Americas in later centuries, and slowly spread everywhere else. Today, it is drunk all over the world, not only because it’s energizing but also because of its rich and intense flavour.

How Arabic coffee came into being

With time, coffee made from Arabica coffee beans evolved with different regions making it differently in their own unique way with their own unique style. Arabic coffee, or ‘Qahwa’ as it is commonly known in Qatar is brewed from these Arabica coffee beans and is a flavoursome style of coffee that is unique to Qatar and other parts of the Middle East, where it is brewed and made in a way that brings out its exceptional aroma and gives it a more full-bodied flavor.

The Arabica coffee beans are methodically farmed at an altitude that falls between 1,200 meters and 1,500 meters. It is an incomparable coffee bean that makes up approximately 80% of global coffee beans production and is cultivated for its unique taste, enticing aroma and superior quality.

When Arabic coffee is served

Arabic coffee at feasts

Arabic coffee is an important symbol of Qatari hospitality and is traditionally served to guests in Qatar as a welcome drink during family gatherings, social functions, traditional feasts and special occasions like Ramadan and Eid.

It is also served in hotels in Qatar where you will find the aromatic drink at the entrance or in the lobby. This tradition of serving Arabic coffee to guests has been ingrained within the Qatari customs and is an integral part of its rich heritage and culture.

How Arabic coffee is served

Arabic coffee is served from a traditional coffee pot known as the ‘dallah’ in a mini delicate cup called the ‘finjaan’- that does not have a handle - and even that is not filled to the top. In fact, it is thought of as an insult if the cup is filled to the top. It should be filled upto 1/4th of the cup, so it is not too hot when the guest sips it.

Dallah and Finjaan

It is customary to drink, at least, one cup of coffee, although three is a the favoured number.

Arabic coffee is always served from the right side of the gathering and moves on to the left side. The younger people of the family must serve the elders. This means that if a younger brother is on hand, the elder brother must not serve the Arabic coffee, if the son is present, the father should not serve the Arabic coffee, and so on.

The person who serves the Arabic coffee must always stand up straight while holding the ‘dallah’ in the left hand and then in a slightly inclined position when serving the ‘finjaan in the right hand to the guest. Each guest is served in the same way individually; the coffee is never poured into ‘finjaans’ and served in a tray. The guest must always drink from the right hand.

It is considered rude to refuse a cup of Arabic coffee offered by a Qatari. It may also indicate to the host that the guest wants something from the host and is not just there for a social engagement.

If a guest does not want any more coffee, he/she must jiggle the coffee cup towards the side.

Sugar and milk is not added to the Arabic coffee; it is mostly served with dates and the way to drink the coffee is to keep a piece of the date in your mouth as you sip the coffee so the sweet taste of the date balances the strong taste of the coffee.

How healthy is Arabic coffee

arabic coffee with dates

Research on Arabic coffee has produced many benefits of this minimum calorie (16 calories) beverage that is practically fat-free (0 grams total fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams polyunsaturated fat; 0 grams monounsaturated fat).

Not only does consumption of Arabic coffee minimize the start of illnesses like dementia, Type II Diabetes and cardiovascular disease, it can also help prevent some forms of cancer when taken in moderation. It’s great for healthy looking skin and can help relieve headaches, flu symptoms and chest congestion.

It is important to keep in mind though that Arabic coffee also contains caffeine and consuming excessive amounts of this Qatari traditional hot beverage may cause insomnia.

How Arabic coffee is prepared

Dallah for Arabic coffee

Arabica coffee beans are easily available in most supermarkets and souks. They may be available as beans that you can grind yourself or in the ground form and preparing Arabic coffee is easy. It can either be made directly in the traditional ‘dallah’ or in a special Arabic/Turkish coffee pan with a long handle called the ‘cezve’.

Cezve Arabic coffee


3 cups of water
3-4 level teaspoons of ground Arabica coffee
1-2 level teaspoons of freshly ground green cardamom
A pinch of saffron (optional)


  1. Boil the water in a ‘dallah’ or a ‘cezve’.
  2. Turn off the heat; add the coffee and the cardamom. Stir.
  3. Turn on the heat to a low flame and let the coffee brew for about 10 minutes or until foams starts to form.
  4. Turn off the heat.
  5. Remove the ‘dallah or ‘cezve’ from the stove and add the saffron strands (optional).
  6. Let the coffee stand for 5 minutes so the coffee and cardamom residue/grounds settle at the bottom.
  7. You can either strain the Arabic coffee so the residue/grounds don’t find their way into the ‘finjaans’ or strain the coffee before serving from the dallah or a thermos.

Have you tried Arabic coffee or ‘Qahwa’ yet? Was it served to you in the traditional Qatari way? Did you enjoy it’s light, yet intense flavour? Did you drink it with a date or on its own? Let us know in our comments section. Like and share the article – it keeps us going!