How to Make Arabic Coffee: A Complete Brewing & Serving Guide

Making Arabic coffee at home is an art form that's both simple and deeply rooted in tradition. It's a delightful way to bring a piece of the rich Arabic culture into your kitchen without needing to step into a coffee shop. I've mastered the technique and I'm here to guide you through it.

With just a few key ingredients and a bit of patience, you'll be brewing the perfect cup of Arabic coffee that's aromatic, flavorful, and sure to impress. Let's dive in and transform your coffee routine with a taste of the Middle East.

Selecting the Right Coffee Beans

When I embarked on my journey to master the art of making Arabic coffee, one crucial step I realised was pivotal to achieving that rich and authentic flavour was choosing the right coffee beans. Let's break down what you need to look for.

Arabica Beans Are a Must
First off, it's essential to go for Arabica beans over Robusta. Arabica beans offer a sweeter, more complex flavour which is perfect for Arabic coffee. They tend to have a more refined taste, with hints of fruit and sugar, and often a higher acidity, which is characteristic of the traditional cup I've come to love.

Light to Medium Roast Works Best
The roast of the coffee also plays a significant part. For Arabic coffee, a light to medium roast is ideal. This level of roasting brings out the best in the Arabica beans, highlighting their inherent flavours without introducing the bitterness that a darker roast might.

Freshness Is Key
Buying fresh beans is non-negotiable. I always aim for beans that have been roasted within the last month. The fresher the beans, the more aromatic and flavourful the coffee.

Here's a simple guide to help you when selecting your beans:

  1. Choose Arabica beans for their superior flavour.
  2. Opt for a light to medium roast to ensure the coffee isn't too bitter.
  3. Seek out freshly roasted beans to guarantee the best taste.

Remember, the beans you choose will significantly influence the overall taste of your Arabic coffee, so take your time and select wisely. By following these guidelines, I've consistently been able to brew coffee that not only tastes splendid but also brings a piece of the Middle East into my home.

Roasting and Grinding the Coffee Beans

Roasting coffee beans for making Arabic coffee is a step that can greatly influence the final flavour of your brew. I've found that light to medium roasts work best as they highlight the Arabica beans' sweet and complex profiles. Roasting at home may seem daunting, but it's a rewarding process that allows for complete control over the flavour.

For those of us without a home roaster, purchasing pre-roasted beans can still yield a fantastic cup of Arabic coffee. Remember, the key lies in freshness. Opt for beans roasted no more than a month ago to ensure the best taste.

Once you have your roasted beans, grinding them correctly is the next crucial step. A fine grind is typically recommended for Arabic coffee because it allows for optimal extraction during brewing. However, you don't want it to be so fine that it becomes powdery and clogs up your coffee maker.

Here's a simple guide to grinding your beans:

  1. Measure the amount of coffee beans you'll need for your brew. A general rule I follow is one tablespoon of coffee for every cup (about 240 ml) of water.
  2. Place the beans in your grinder. If you're using a manual grinder, it might take a couple of minutes of steady grinding.
  3. Aim for a consistency slightly finer than table sugar, but not as fine as flour.
  4. Once ground, proceed immediately to brewing for the best flavour.

By carefully roasting and grinding your coffee beans, you're laying the foundation for a rich and aromatic cup of Arabic coffee. This attention to detail in the preparation stage really sets the stage for the cooking process, ensuring that every sip is as rewarding as the last.

Preparing the Dallah (coffee pot)

Following the careful selection and preparation of your coffee beans, the next step in crafting a traditional Arabic coffee involves the dallah, a distinctive coffee pot that's as functional as it is symbolic in Middle Eastern cultures. I've found that understanding how to properly prep your dallah is key to achieving that authentic taste and aroma we're all after. So let's dive into how I get mine ready for brewing.

First off, you'll want to ensure your dallah is clean and dry. Any residue from previous uses can affect the taste of your coffee, and we definitely don't want that. Once it's clean, here’s a simple guide to follow:

  1. Measure the Water: Depending on how many servings you're preparing, measure the appropriate amount of water and pour it into the dallah. I usually go by the rule of about 50-60ml of water per serving.
  2. Add the Coffee: With the water in, it's time to add your finely ground coffee. The general rule I follow is one tablespoon of coffee for every 100ml of water, but this can be adjusted based on your preference for strength.
  3. Mix in the Spices: Arabic coffee is known for its rich spices. I usually add a pinch of cardamom directly into the dallah with the coffee. Some people also enjoy a hint of saffron or cloves for added depth.
  4. Heat it Up: Place your dallah over a low heat. It's important to keep an eye on it, as you’ll want to remove it from the heat just before it boils to avoid spilling over.
  5. Let it Simmer: After removing the dallah from the heat, I let it sit for a minute or two. This allows the coffee to brew and the grounds to settle at the bottom of the pot.

Remember, the key to a perfect dallah of Arabic coffee lies in the balance of coffee, water, and spices. Through experimentation, I've found my sweet spot, and I'm confident you'll find yours too.

Brewing the Arabic Coffee

After choosing the perfect dallah and prepping my coffee mix, it’s time to dive into the brewing process. Here's how I ensure my Arabic coffee is rich, aromatic, and utterly delightful every time.

Step 1: Combine Ingredients in the Dallah

I start by adding the water I’ve meticulously measured into the dallah. For every cup, I use two tablespoons of the finely ground Arabic coffee. Here's the twist – I don't stir. This allows for the coffee to bloom beautifully as it heats, enhancing its aromatic profile. Then, I sprinkle in the cardamom. Depending on my mood, I might add a pinch of saffron or cloves for an extra layer of flavour.

Step 2: Heat Gently

Patience is key. I place the dallah over low heat, ensuring the coffee doesn’t boil. Boiling can make the coffee bitter, something I’m keen to avoid. The magic happens as it barely simmers; this is when the coffee starts to infuse with the spices, creating that signature aroma that fills my kitchen.

Step 3: Watch for the Foam

The first sign of readiness is when a thick, rich foam starts forming on the surface. It’s crucial not to let it overflow. At this point, I lower the heat even further and sometimes take the dallah off the heat source for a few seconds. This technique requires a bit of a dance around the stove, but it’s worth it.

Step 4: Allow to Settle

After the coffee has had its first boil and the foam has risen, I remove it from the heat and let it sit. This settling allows all the grounds to sink to the bottom. It’s this settling that marries the distinct flavours and aromas, creating a harmonious blend.

Step 5: Serve and Enjoy

Finally, I pour the coffee slowly into small cups, ensuring not to disturb the settled grounds. The first pour is always for the aroma – it's tradition. Then, I serve it to my guests, making sure to start with the eldest as a sign of respect.

Serving and Enjoying

After you've mastered the art of brewing a perfect dallah of Arabic coffee, it's time to pivot to the equally important ritual of serving and enjoying this aromatic delight. In my experience, the presentation of Arabic coffee is as crucial as its preparation, embodying centuries of tradition.

Firstly, let's talk about the equipment. You'll need a set of small cups, often without handles, known as finjan, to serve the coffee. Remember, the beauty of these cups can add to the overall experience, so choose ones that speak to the occasion.

Serving Arabic Coffee: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Pour Slowly: Begin by pouring the coffee slowly into the finjan, allowing the sediments to stay at the bottom of the dallah. This technique ensures your guests are served a clear cup of coffee.
  2. Serve From the Right: Tradition dictates serving the coffee starting from the guest to your right, moving on in a clockwise direction. This custom honours the cultural importance of hospitality.
  3. Offer With Both Hands: Present the coffee with both hands or with your right hand while the left supports your right elbow. It's a sign of respect and generosity.
  4. Refills Are Encouraged: Guests typically receive small amounts of coffee in their cups, expecting multiple servings. Keep an eye on their cups and offer refills until they signal they've had enough by tilting the cup.

Enjoying Arabic Coffee

Drinking Arabic coffee isn't just about tasting; it's an immersive experience. Here's how to fully appreciate it:

Understanding the rituals surrounding serving and enjoying Arabic coffee deepens the appreciation of this beverage's cultural significance. It's a delightful journey through taste and tradition.


Mastering the art of making Arabic coffee isn't just about brewing a cup; it's about embracing a rich cultural experience. I've shared the nuances of preparation and presentation that transform this simple beverage into a ritual of hospitality and respect. Remember, it's the attention to detail—from the way you pour the coffee to how you engage with your guests—that truly brings this tradition to life. So, take your time, savour the process, and let the unique flavours and customs of Arabic coffee create memorable moments. Whether you're a seasoned aficionado or a curious newcomer, the world of Arabic coffee offers a warm, aromatic invitation to connect and enjoy.

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