It took me a while to find a coffee purveyor in Beirut who would sell decaffeinated coffee. My request was usually met with a puzzled look then a decisive no. One man even said in Arabic the equivalent of “not just no, but hell no!”. When I prodded him as to why he was being so virulent, his answer was ” because decaffeinated coffee is NOT GOOD!!! it is not REAL coffee!”
I was getting discouraged. There are coffee shops in every neighborhood in Beirut. Places that make it their business to roast beans and grind beans to make Turkish coffee, with or without cardamom. Brazilian beans, Columbian beans, Yemeni beans, are among the variety offered. Finally, I found a coffee place that had been around forever, and where nobody frowned when I requested decaf. Incidentally, the place has a seating area and is full of American-speaking bohemian/intellectuals.
Turkish coffee is not usually decaf. It comes in two flavors: one is plain, and one is spiced with cardamom.
Now for the recipe. It is very simple.
Use the specific pot with a long handle called a rakweh. It is available in all the Middle-Eastern groceries.
Pour water into an espresso or demitasse cup to the rim, then dump it into the pot. Add as much water as you are going to serve. The traditional cups in Lebanon are called shaffe and are also sold in the Arab groceries.
Add a heaping teaspoon of coffee per cup. Add sugar only if everybody wants it and only half a teaspoon per cup or to taste.
Set the pot on low heat. Give the coffee time to dissolve.
When the surface of the coffee starts to swell and bubbles form, set it aside for 30 seconds and pour.
I made a video last Summer and had my coffee read by a seasoned coffee reader. The lady’s name is Leenaz; she used to spend her time reading coffee until her mom scolded her and told her to stop and get married. So she did. She now has 5 boys and lives in a house with a huge vegetable garden and the cave where I had the reading is in her house. It was where animals were kept in the olden days. Animals lived below in the basement, which had a curved ceiling. The entire house were built with handcut stones and adobe. I get so happy when I see a few original ones scattered here and there.
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