A good cup of coffee is an opportunity to break the ice and build bonds. It is part of the Arab tradition to welcome the guests with a cup of this thick brown liquid. In Oman, guests are offered welcome drink of Qahwa with halwa or juicy dates.
Coffee is the most consumed drink aside from water. Tea lovers may beg to differ. For most people, coffee gets the day started and then continues to get them through the day.
Coffee’s story starts in the lush highlands of Ethiopia centuries ago when a farmer found his goats super charged after eating coffee cherries.
Although they are called “coffee beans”, the plant is not a legume, and the fruits of the coffee tree look more like cherries when they are first picked. The seeds inside are extracted and dried before the process of roasting turns them into the hard, nutty nodules we feed into our grinders.
Exactly how and when it spread beyond Ethiopia is still the subject of many legends. Perhaps, the Sufis of Yemen were the first truly devoted drinkers outside Africa in the Middle Ages – where it was intimately connected with their mystic rituals.
Today, coffee has conquered our homes and offices. We socialize with our colleagues and beat the stress of office during the “coffee break.” At home, it brings together family members for chit chat. There’s nothing like reminiscing with friends over a good cup of coffee.
Coffee drinkers love to socialize over their favorite drinks of choice, which expanded beyond simply brewed coffee, to also include specially-crafted espresso drinks. Coffee houses have been around for more than 500 years, but the explosion of coffee house locations since the 1990s is undeniable. Culture is inherently infused in coffee, and coffee houses drew intellectuals, writers, artists and the people. It stimulated discussions and meetings.
In general, the elderly is more inclined to Arabic coffee while the youth prefer espresso and cappuccino, and teenagers cold and flavoured varieties.
In the Arab world, cafes have played a major role in shaping the literary and cultural movements, which was evident in the works of Nobel laureate and Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz and fellow countryman Ihsan Abdel Quddous.
In Oman, cafes, since ancient times, have been the setting for social gatherings, meetings and strengthening relations between individuals. Before the pandemic struck, nobody missed a chance to discuss work and life over a cup of coffee and dates.
Mona Salem, a coffee lover, said, “It cannot be denied that the aroma of coffee lightens the mood and stimulates the mind. Many studies have proven the effect of caffeine has effect on the brain.”
A Khanjari, who frequents cafes, said, “Enjoying a cup of coffee is a different experience. Youths prefer to browse internet in trendy cafes despite high prices. I like going to cafés, where I meet my friends. We usually prefer to go to cafés near the sea."