Jordanian Coffee
Monday, 15 May 2017


This month’s MENA cooking club country is Jordan and I’m making Jordanian coffee.

Coffee is hugely popular in the Middle East. Coffee spread from Ethiopia, via Yemen, then to the rest of the Arab world and Turkey, where the first cafe opened in Istanbul and ‘coffee/cafe culture’ ostensibly began.

Jordan was a key country in the coffee trading route from Yemen, then onwards to Iran and Iraq, via the port of Aqaba and bedouin caravan trains. Coffee is important in Jordanian culture, as a sign of respect and symbol of hospitality. There is even a Bedouin coffee ceremony.

Arabic coffee (qahwah ) differs from latte-type coffees by boiling the coffee grounds in water, and usually by the addition of cardamom or other spices like saffron and cloves. You can buy coffee preground with cardamom, in tea bag form even, or grind your coffee beans together with cardamom pods, or just add ground cardamom, which I’ve done here. It’s also unfiltered, which I haven’t done because I personally don’t like unfiltered coffee. You do lose your foam, but I really dislike stray coffee grounds at the bottom of my cup, which has happened to me before when I’ve made Arabic-style coffee.

I apologise for filtering.

I’ve based my Jordanian coffee largely on the Yulla Yumma Jordanian Coffee video in which she uses very finely ground coffee. I grind coffee in my Ninja food processor which is good enough for the V60, but probably not fine enough for this unless I’m very patient and continuously scrape the coffee down, like you do when you make almond butter. My finely ground coffee is decaf, again not authentic but in my defence it’s very good decaf.

Something I like to do with leftover coffee grounds is mix them into a paste with honey and a little pinch of turmeric to make a scrubby face mask (avoiding the eye area). Obviously, do this with 100% coffee grounds without sugar or other spices mixed in.

Jordanian coffee is normally served in tiny, handle-less cups and brewed in a special coffee pot (dallah). Sugar and cardamom are added.

I mostly drink coffee drip-filtered through the V60 at home with almond milk and sugar, and the typical espresso-based lattes/cappuccinos/etc. in cafes. I very occasionally have black coffee, and it’s almost always at a Arabic/Turkish/Ethiopian restaurant. I quite like it - hence the green coffee and cardamom tea bags - and I’ve made it occasionally in a saucepan just like this sans-teabag, though I like it very very sweet when black (qahwah ziyada). The main differences between the Jordanian coffee video and how I’ve made Arabic coffee before are:

a) sugar is dissolved in boiling water before adding coffee grounds, instead of after brewing, or not at all; and

b) you boil the coffee twice, with cardamom the second time around.

Arabic coffee is normally served with something sweet, like dates. I’ve recently found a favourite date source - surprisingly, it’s Morrisons, who carry Moon City jumbo medjoul dates which are large, caramelly and Palestinian (particularly apt for today 15 May, Nakba Day). The sweetness of the dates matches the bitterness of the coffee.

Jordanian coffee

  • 2 small coffee cups filled with water
  • 1 small saucepan or Arabic coffee pot
  • 1 heaped tablespoon ground coffee
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Boil the water and add sugar, stirring to dissolve.

Once sugar is dissolved, add coffee. Boil until the coffee mixture starts gurgling.

Take your pot off the heat. Add the ground cardamom and put it on the boil again for a few minutes.

Pour the coffee into the little cups and serve with some dates.