Saudi Arabia: The Etiquette of Pouring or Receiving Arabic Coffee

 

 

Yesterday I wrote a post on the protocols and customs which surround the serving of Arabic Coffee.  Continuing on the etiquette of Arabic coffee, today’s post discusses and describes how to pour the coffee.

First of all, the Arabic coffee pot with the long and extended spout is called a Dallah (or some may also refer to it as an al-Malqamah).  The small coffee cups which have no handle are called Al-funjan or funjal.  If any of the small coffee cups are cracked, chipped or broken, they are referred to as ‘mashrum’ and should never be used.

Serving Arabic coffee may take some practice for those not familiar with the procedure.  To begin with the Dallah should be held in the left hand and coffee cups in the right hand.  The coffee is to be poured from the Dallah into the small coffee cups while in a standing position.  At official functions or traditional restaurants the coffee may be poured in a small stream into the cup from a distance of one foot.  However, it takes practice to perform such an art of pouring the coffee from afar as that.

When pouring coffee the server should maintain a respectable distance from the guest who is being served.  This is to avoid any embarrassing situation such as unintentional spillage of hot coffee onto either the server or the guest.  The body should be at an inclined position when presenting the coffee cup to the guest.

As the coffee is offered to the guest, the server should say “tafaddal” (please take it!) or “samm” (please pronounce the name of God), or “khudh” (take it please). Maintain an erect and straight posture during and after pouring the coffee.  Do not pour coffee and serve by placing coffee cups on a tray as done when serving tea.  Rather, the server should hold the cups in hand and pour coffee in each cup before serving the guests.

When pouring coffee, the cup should be only one-fourth filled making it not too hot and easy for a guest to sip and savor the taste.  The server should not ignore anybody while serving coffee.  Overlooking a guest is a gross violation of etiquette and hospitality.  It is also considered humiliating to a guest if a cup of coffee is left unfilled until the guest tells the server “ikrim” (honor) or “bas” (enough).

Here is a good video with clear instructions which demonstrates how to prepare Arabic coffee in any modern kitchen:

 

 

Advertisements

17 Responses

  1. Thanks for the post
    from the words spoken while serving coffee is “Taqahoo” said to the guest if he’s chatting and not noticing the coffee being served to him.
    Also you’ve to place dates or sweets within hand reaching distance also placing an empty plate for date seeds or sweets wrapping .
    I’ve got to go to work now salam ! 🙂

  2. Thank you, Mohammed. You are absolutely correct in that one just does not serve coffee and leave it at that!

  3. 🙂
    that is so cute American Bedu.

    I mean keeping on writing your experience in a very attractive smart way.
    I can see how much you love Abdullah in every single word. I also think it is your way resisting the pain in every disguise.
    Take a good care of yourself. 🙂

    about the topic:

    You are right and believe me when I was reading your words I felt like “God! I do it all the time and stil feel like recognizing the etiquette for the first time!” 😀

  4. @Reemie,

    I apologize for my delay in response to your comment…you are quite right! (smile)

  5. The finjal always burns my hands while I’m handing it to guests so if they’re too busy talking and don’t hear my “ta qa wah” then I just put it next to them in order to save my hands!!!

  6. Just watched the video you posted, very nice! There are some other yummy variations of making this coffee which includes using cloves, saffron and even adding milk! I think different areas of Saudi may have their own way of making the coffee but that’s just my observations.

  7. @Ariel,

    I agree with you that there are variations to the preparation of Arabic coffee. I’ve never seen anyone add milk! I think cloves adds a very rich aroma and flavor to the coffee. As I write this comment I’m personally in a tea mood and have chosen to drink lemon tea mixed with honey!

  8. Yes, my sister in law from Riyadh adds milk! I’ve seen a few women do that here actually! Some add milk or even coffee mate but just a bit though. I’ve tried it and it’s very nice!

  9. @Ariel: With all respect, I shudder at the thought of milk or coffee mate in Arabic coffee (envisioning the traditional small cups used). I do not doubt that for anyone who likes milk that it is pleasant. I always drink coffee black whether it is American or Arabic coffee!

  10. It is also good to note that etiquette here is that the men are served first and then the women unless a man says ‘Ladies first’. I find that on most occassions this happens, but not always.

  11. That is really strange. What a weird custom! Ladies should always come first.
    We are so much more important and worthwhile than any man can ever be!

  12. ariel
    where is here?
    maybe your inlaws adapted american habits with the creamer….i’m with bedu on the milk thing?

  13. I’ve seen milk in the small cups of Turkish coffee- but never Arabic coffee. It must look like a cup of watery milk. It’s so pale to begin with.

  14. well there are generally not mixed gender gatherings for men to say “ladies first” if we are speaking strictly about the arab world. Just an observation.

  15. I cannot imagine milk in qawa either. And I don’t think it would improve.

  16. @ Coolred38

    You are correct in saying this, but we are now experiencing many changes especially with more females traveling even in KSA.

    In the case of my employer, we have three majelises; one for men, one for women and one for mixed company. This I see as a huge step forward in the welcoming of women from the arab and outside world. We often have visitors from around the world and in the past this would not have happened.

    Our servers always stick to protocal, but all the men make an attempt to make the women feel comfortable.

    I have even been visiting other farms and the men welcome me into the majelis to join them for tea and conversation. In the past this never would have happened.

  17. @ Coolred38

    You are correct in saying this, but we are now experiencing many changes especially with more females traveling even in KSA.

    In the case of my employer, we have three majelises; one for men, one for women and one for mixed company. This I see as a huge step forward in the welcoming of women from the arab and outside world. We often have visitors from around the world and in the past this would not have happened.

    Our servers always stick to protocal, but all the men make an attempt to make the women feel comfortable.

    I have even been visiting other farms and the men welcome me into the majelis to join them for tea and conversation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: