If you are a coffee lover, then you must try the amazing taste of the Arabic Coffee "Al-Sada" in Jordan!
Jordanians have valued hospitality since ancient times. One of its most common aspects and pillars is coffee. Jordanian coffee is part of the building blocks society and is present on all occasions and in traditions. It’s one of the ways to express the host’s generosity and good hospitality, or an invitation to a meal or acceptance through “Atwa" or "Jaha“ as well as an expression of joy or grief.
Coffee is placed in the Dallah, a special jug , and is presented to guests in decorated cups.
These are some of the tools used in the preparation of coffee:
Al-Mehmasa: a curved metal plate with a handle. Coffee beans are placed in it and turned until its green color changes into a blackish blond color.
Al Mehbash: a large mortar which is used to pound the beans using a special wooden hammer. It’s also a sort of a musical instrument as it makes a wonderful sound when used so it’s usually used with a musical rhythm. The hosts take pride in these instruments, which are also considered as a way to invite the neighbors or anyone passing by and hear it to come in and share the coffee.
Al Dallah: It’s a copper jug with a wide base and nozzle and a narrow neck that has a handle and is used to fill the cups with coffee. It comes in 3 sizes: large, medium, and small, and each of these has a role in making coffee.
The cups: Also known as Al Fanajeel in Jordanian dialect. Decorated glass cups are used to serve the coffee. These used to be made from pottery and later from colored and crafted Chinese white porcelain. It’s covered with lovely designs and there should always be at least 3 cups available.
Presenting the Jordanian Coffee:
There are strict rules when dealing with coffee in Jordan. Jordanian tribes have a set of rules to deal with coffee. The same way hospitality has its rules, coffee also has its rules and etiquette which both the guest and the host need to follow.
The main rules include:
1 - “Coffee is the key to peace and talks” meaning that the host and the guest should not engage freely in talk except after they have the first cup of coffee. As only then, they would feel safe towards one another and are free to talk.
2 – Serving coffee starts always with those sitting on the right of the host serving. He or she then works his way to the left regardless of the position or social rank of that person on the left. This rule is only broken in case strange guests are hosted or start with someone of high status or wisdom. In cases of Jaha, which means to visit to ask for something, the elderly of the group asking for the Jaha is the first to be served than the rest of his group. However, they won’t start drinking it unless their request is accepted.
3 –“A cup for the guest, a cup for the mood and a cup for the sword”
The limit for coffee is 3 cups. It was the right of any guest entering a home to be served coffee and if that is not honored, the guest can request compensation from the host for the disrespect he faced.
4 – The person serving the coffee or “ Al Sabbab” holds the Dallah with his left hand and the cups with his right hand. He or she fills the cups while standing and presents the cup to the guest using his or her right hand. The cups are only filled with a small amount of coffee no more than a spoonful. Its regarded as a means of showing hospitality and not being overused and greed has no place in this matter.
This contrasts with Jordanians’ generosity as they present everything with abundance except for coffee. Excess in coffee should only be in the spices and cardamom. The philosophy behind that is that one Dallah should be sufficient for dozens of guests and that offering too much coffee maybe a sign of the server’s being full of anger and hatred which is not right and offensive to the guest.
5 – The guest should drink the coffee with his or her right hand, drink it, and hand it back to the server. The cup must never be put aside except in the case of “Jaha”, which is when the guest is visiting to ask for a matter.
6 – It is inappropriate to blow on the hot coffee to cool it. The cup can be swirled to help it cool and the coffee can be drunk in 3 sips.
7 – Coffee is never presented cold or not warm enough. It’s the server’s task to make sure it’s at the right temperature and that its quality and taste are up to the expected. This is why he or she is required to drink the first cup, which is called the “ El Heif“ cup.
The Serving Process:
As mentioned earlier regarding the Jordanian rules of presenting coffee, the server must present the coffee while bowing so that the cup is lower than the guest’s chest and within his or her reach. When pouring the coffee, its poured as a continuous thin line as the Dallah is raised away from the cup to allow the guest to enjoy the view of the coffee pouring before it is drunk.
The server holds the Coffee Dallah in his left hand and presents the cup with his right hand after striking the Dallah’s nozzle with the cup to alert the guest who he or she is serving. When the guest shakes his or her cup after drinking it’s a sign that he or she had enough, whereas if he or she doesn’t the server will continue to serve coffee until they do.
If you have tried the Jordanian Arabic coffee we would love to hear your feedback.
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