If you’re in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and an Emirati invites you over for coffee, or ‘gahwa’ as it’s called in the Emirati Arabic dialect, get ready to be treated like a royal!
Serving Arabic coffee to guests is the spine of Arabian hospitality. And it is taken so seriously in the UAE that there are proper rules for brewing and serving it! Brewing means making tea or coffee by soaking tea leaves or coffee beans in hot water.
In ancient times, Bedouins, who were nomadic Arab people, dug a fireplace into the ground and brewed their coffee over it. After adding aromatic spices like saffron and cardamom, they served the refreshing drink in handleless cups. Yup, no handles!
Now, let’s get to the second main part of this whole ritual – preparing and serving the coffee! The first main part is drinking it, (of course)! Preparation starts with sorting the good beans and bad beans. Then they’re washed, dried, and roasted until they turn reddish-brown. The roasted beans are ground (crushed) and brewed to get the richly flavored Arabian coffee.
Both the server and the guest have important roles to be played in the serving ritual. The server must hold the ‘dallah’, or coffee pot, with the left hand and the cup with the right hand. Guests must use their right hand to receive and return their cups to the server. In the Arab world, using your left hand to give and take things is a sign of disrespect.
The server fills only a quarter of the cup with coffee. Don’t worry, you can ask for a refill, but no more than three times. Take an adult’s help and try arranging this warm coffee ceremony for your family and friends. Remember to share Arabian coffee facts while serving them!