Coffee Aroma Envelops Saudi Arabia from Tradition to Modern
By: Jenny Lyu / Arab America Contributing Writer
2022 was called “The Year of Coffee” by Saudi Arabia Ministry of Culture. The world recognizes the flavor of Saudi coffee in various ways. Last month, the Saudi Coffee Festival brought knowledge, business, culture, and discussion about Saudi coffee to audiences, taking visitors through a Saudi coffee journey. Educating people on the Saudi coffee culture let them know more about Saudi coffee essence, think more about how to protect the tradition, and innovate so that Saudi coffee blends into modern people’s life.
Traditional Saudi Coffee Culture
The festival showed coffee bean plants and the tools used in farming. In the 1200s, the Arabian Muslim community started brewing coffee to keep awake for long prayer sessions. The rich texture of coffee started Arabian’s fascination, which was enjoyed within homes and qahveh khaneh (public coffee houses). It is more about family and the Arab community, the symbol of hospitality and generosity. Saudi coffee’s aroma always reminds every Arab of home. Gathering with friends and family to break the fast with fresh coffee brewed in the traditional coffee pot dallah, pour finjals, and sit around the table with your family to share coffee and stories. Dates are also the perfect accompaniment to Saudi coffee, neutralizing its bitterness.
In the Middle East, coffee is an integral part of the country. It keeps ancient traditions (particular ways to taste coffee from quality, drinking habits, and environment). While methods of brewing coffee vary from place to place, “dallah” is a traditional Arabic way of drinking coffee. Made from lightly or heavily roasted coffee beans, it is usually drunk straight away, which is what we call black coffee. The Saudi Khawlani coffee beans are Arab ingredients in coffee with different flavors depending on the location. Saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, or cloves are used to brew and added in.
The rich flavor of Saudi coffee beans, spices from various regions, and handcrafted coffee made in the traditional pot make up Arab flavor. The festival organized several workshops and discussions about conventional coffee pots, coffee, and marketing the product.
“My check is on the story.” This comment is shown under a café house post on social media to promote its new product. The incredible story is Medd Café & Roastery made one fresh coffee from the lyrics of Lotus Flower by Radiohead. The sticker becomes white and dark chocolate and represents the moon, making the coffee so beautiful and an art.
Coffee has added a touch of emotion and romance to the world of young people. Young people prefer to create their own coffee stories, they open and decorate their own cafes, and convey their unique ideas about coffee with life. The story of Saudi Coffee is not only about the origins and traditions. Every café has its own uniqueness based on the traditional flavor. For example, the young generation creates “Frozen lavender coffee”, “ice cream with Saudi coffee”, etc. Those novel and creative ideas attract more and more customers from café enthusiasts to baristas or café house owners.
More and more young farmers are also coming to the festival, learning and communicating. They started accepting private investments to create their own coffee brands, and they use modern technology to plant and irrigate. In addition, more and more women are joining the festival, which boosts equal working opportunities for both men and women in the coffee industry—making coffee a drink everyone can enjoy. Foreign visitors who come to visit share that they are so impressed and love the experience here. People also got the chance to see Arab folk dance and performances during their time.
Arab coffee beans have a centuries-old cultural heritage and are moving towards a new and more extensive economic development. In July, the Saudi Council of Culinary Arts signed a cooperation agreement with the Saudi Coffee Company to preserve Saudi coffee heritage, including plans to develop a media library, local culinary arts stories, and the design and marketing of tourist routes. In the continuous integration, development, and exploration of culture, it is expected that Saudi coffee will gradually become famous worldwide and find its taste in cafes in all corners of the world.
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