Lebanese Coffee

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Lebanese Coffee (Arabic coffee) with cardamom

Lebanese coffee – or Arabic coffee, also called qahwa kahwa, ahweh – is very similar to Turkish coffee, except that it’s often scented with cardamom seeds, which the Turks don’t use. Both are made with pulverised coffee beans, which are often sold in supermarkets as ‘Turkish-style coffee’. The sugar is mixed with the coffee and water before it’s heated, rather than added afterwards, so when ordering Lebanese coffee you need to indicate how sweet you’d like it. Many people consider the thick foam on top the best part of a Lebanese coffee. You’ll get more foam in the first cup, which is usually given to an honoured guest or the head of the household, and less in each subsequent cup. Lifting the coffee pot off the heat at just the right time, as it’s boiling but before it boils over, helps settle some of the coffee grounds and give a smoother texture. But it’s a delicate balance as the more you do this, the less of that delicious foam forms – I find about three times gives the right balance. Arabic coffee should be sipped, leaving the grounds in the bottom of the cup, and is often served with a glass of water to cleanse the palate afterwards.

Serves 2

Ingredients
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2 tablespoons pulverised coffee beans (Turkish-style coffee)
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar, more or less to taste
  • 140ml cold water
Method
  1. Bruise the cardamom pods so some of the seeds come out.
  2. Place pods and seeds in an Arabic coffee pot.
  3. Add coffee, sugar and water and stir to combine well.
  4. Place over medium heat for a few minutes until it starts to foam up.
  5. Just before the foam reaches the top of the pot, quickly lift it off the heat.
  6. Wait a few seconds until the foam subsides then return it to the heat until it foams up again.
  7. Repeat one more time, taking care as it will foam almost immediately this time.
  8. Serve in small Lebanese coffee cups.

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