How to Make Arabic Coffee

Three Parts:Preparing the IngredientsMaking the CoffeeDrinking Arabic Coffee

"Arabic coffee" is a general term that refers to the way coffee is prepared in many Arabic countries throughout the Middle East. That said, there is a good deal of variation from place to place, including how the beans are roasted and what spices and flavorings are added. Arabic coffee is prepared on the stovetop in a special pot called a dallah, poured into a thermos, and served in a petite, handle-less cup called finjaan. You might be surprised at how it differs from Western-style coffee, but after a few sips you'll be making this for all your guests.


  • 3 tablespoons ground Arabic coffee beans
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon ground or crushed cardamom
  • 5-6 whole cloves (optional)
  • A pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater (optional)

Part 1
Preparing the Ingredients

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    Buy Arabic coffee. You can purchase whole roasted beans or ground coffee. Look for Arabica beans in light to medium roasts.
    • Some specialty coffee stores and online sellers offer Arabic coffee blends with spices included. While this doesn't allow you to adjust the ratio to your taste, it may be a convenient way to get the flavor of Arabic coffee.
    • Alternatively, you can buy unroasted Arabica coffee beans and roast them yourself.
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    Grind the coffee if it is not already ground. You can use the grinder at the grocery store or use your own at home.
    • While some suggest using a coarse grind, others recommend making a very fine, powder-like ground.[1][2] Experiment and see what suits your taste.
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    Crush the cardamom pods. You can use a mortar and pestle to do this, or the back of a spoon.
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    Grind the cardamom seeds. Take the seeds from the pods and put them in a coffee grinder. Grind them into a fine powder.
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    Preheat a thermos. If you plan to serve the coffee from a thermos, as is traditionally done in the Middle East, preheat it now by filling it with boiling water.

Part 2
Making the Coffee

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    Heat the water in the dallah. Use all 3 cups of water and bring to a boil on medium heat.
    • If you don't have a dallah, you can use a saucepan or Turkish cezve.[3]
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    Remove the dallah from the stove for 30 seconds. Let it stand and cool just slightly.
    • Meanwhile, reduce the heat on the burner to low.
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    Add the coffee to the water and return to the stove. You do not need to stir the coffee at this point, since the boiling itself mixes the grounds in the water.
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    Let the coffee brew on low heat. After 10-12 minutes, foam will start rising to the top of the pot.
    • Do not let the coffee boil, as this will burn the coffee. If it begins to boil, remove the dallah from the stove. You may also want to reduce the heat slightly before returning the dallah to the burner.[4]
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    Turn the stove off and let the pot settle for a minute. If you have an electric stove that is slow to cool, remove the pot immediately.
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    Remove the pot from the stove and let the foam settle. Once the level of the foam has lowered, add the cardamom.
    • You can also add a few cloves at this point, if you're using them.[5]
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    Return the coffee to the stove and bring it nearly to a boil again. This process will create the same foam as shown in prior steps.
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    Remove the coffee from the stove and let it stand for 5 minutes. The grounds will settle to the bottom.
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    Prepare your thermos. Empty the boiling water used for preheating. If you are using saffron and/or rosewater, add them now to the empty thermos.
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    Pour the coffee into the thermos until the grounds start coming out. Once you see grounds in the coffee, stop pouring. A small amount of coffee with grounds will remain at the bottom of the dallah.
    • You can pour the coffee through a strainer if you wish. This catches the spices and coffee sediment, but is not a necessary step.[6]
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    Let the coffee steep for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve. For a traditional presentation, use small cups on a serving plate.
    • Traditionally, the small cups are filled no more than halfway.[7]
    • While Arabic coffee is traditionally made without sugar, it is served with something sweet, like dates.
    • Milk is not added to Arabic coffee. If you prefer adding milk to yours, keep in mind that light roasts in particular are best without milk.

Part 3
Drinking Arabic Coffee

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    Use your right hand to pour, receive and drink the coffee. It is considered rude to drink with your left hand.[8]
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    Offer multiple servings. A guest should always accept at least one cup, and it is customary to drink at least three over the course of a visit.
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    Swirl your cup to indicate that you've finished. This lets the host know you're ready for more.[9]

Things You'll Need

  • Ingredients
  • Coffee grinder (optional)
  • Tablespoon
  • Dallah, saucepan or Turkish cezve
  • A stove
  • Demitasse coffee cups (or regular size if you prefer)
  • A serving plate
  • Dates or other sweets (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Coffee