Coffee Culture in Jordan: A Sign of Respect and Hospitality

If you ever visit Jordan, you will soon discover that coffee is more than just a drink; it is a cultural ritual that reflects respect, hospitality, trust and social bonding. Whether you are invited to a Bedouin tent, a family home or a business meeting, you will most likely be offered a cup of Arabic coffee as a sign of welcome and honor.

Arabic coffee, also known as qahwa sada (meaning plain coffee) or qahwa arabiyya (meaning Arab coffee), is made from lightly roasted beans that are finely ground with cardamom pods and boiled in a special pot called dallah. The coffee is usually served without sugar, but with dates or candied fruits on the side to sweeten the taste. The coffee is poured into small cups called finjan, which are only filled halfway to allow the drinker to enjoy the aroma and flavor.

There is a whole etiquette and protocol associated with serving and drinking Arabic coffee in Jordan. The host will usually serve the coffee himself or herself, starting with the eldest or most important guest seated on his or her right. The host will first pour a cup for himself or herself to check the temperature and quality of the coffee, then fill another cup for the first guest. The host will continue to serve each guest in turn until everyone has received their cup.

The guests should accept the coffee with their right hand and sip it slowly while engaging in conversation with the host and other guests. It is considered rude to refuse the coffee or to drink it too quickly. The guests should also be careful not to ask for more than three cups of coffee, as this may imply that they have a favor to ask or a dispute to settle with the host. To indicate that they have had enough, the guests should gently shake their cups from side to side before handing them back to the host.

Sometimes, a guest may have a specific purpose for visiting another person’s house besides socializing. For example, if a man wants to ask for another man’s daughter’s hand in marriage for his son, he will place his cup of coffee in front of him without drinking it until he gets permission from the host to speak his mind. He will then state his intention clearly and respectfully, mentioning both his son’s name and the daughter’s name. If the host agrees to the proposal, he will say « congratulations » and invite the guest to drink his coffee. If he needs more time to think about it or consult with his family, he will ask for three days. If he rejects it outright, he will send a messenger later with his answer.

Coffee culture in Jordan is not limited to traditional Arabic coffee; there are also many modern cafes that offer Western-style espresso-based drinks such as cappuccino, latte and mocha. These cafes cater mostly to young people who enjoy spending long hours chatting with friends over their favorite brews. However, some cafes also prohibit smoking shisha (water pipe) inside their premises as they want to promote a healthier lifestyle and focus on quality rather than quantity.

Whether you prefer Arabic or Western-style coffee, you will find plenty of options in Jordan that suit your taste buds and your budget. Coffee culture in Jordan is diverse and dynamic; it reflects both ancient traditions and contemporary trends; it connects people across generations and backgrounds; it expresses respect and hospitality; it enriches life with flavor and aroma.

If you want to experience coffee culture in Jordan to the fullest, you should try attending a traditional coffee ceremony. This is a special occasion that involves roasting, grinding and brewing the coffee in front of the guests, using a wooden mortar and pestle, a brass grinder and a dallah. The host will usually add some incense or oud oil to the charcoal fire to create a pleasant scent in the air. The guests will sit around the host, watching and chatting, while enjoying the fresh and aromatic coffee. It is a unique and memorable experience that you should not miss if you have the opportunity.