Our weekend coffee was way more interesting this weekend following an announcement from Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announcing the discovery of what is believed to be the largest ancient city found in Egypt, dubbed the Rise of Aten.
According to Betsy Brian, Professor of Egyptology at John Hopkins University, it is “the second most important archeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun”.
After seven months of excavations which began in September 2020, several neighbourhoods have been uncovered, including a bakery complete with ovens, storage pottery including administrative and residential districts.
The discovery was announced by Egyptologist Zahi Hawass as the discovery of the “lost golden city", stating that the site was uncovered near Luxor, home of the Valley of the Kings. The archeologist team confirm that the city is 3,000 years old. It dates to the reign of Amenhotep III, and continued to be used by Tutankhamun and Ay.
Archeologists say that Amenhotep III inherited an empire that stretched from the Euphrates to Sudan, and died around 1354 BC after ruling for nearly four decades.
We decided to celebrate this great historical find at Mara Coffee with a spotlight on Egyptian coffee culture and raise a cup of coffee to Egyptian history.
Coffee is thought to have first arrived to Egypt in the 16th century and gained popularity due to the Sufi Islamic mystics, who used it when performing long ritual prayers. Before coffee houses arrived on the scene, people would only come together during occasions socialising in establishments that served alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and food. These establishments were negatively perceived by the public and looked down upon.
By the 17th century it's thought that Cairo already had around 650 bayt qahwa (coffee houses) which became cultural centres and gathering places with coffee taking centre stage as a drink that created the social culture.
This history is still present today, coffee houses are place for literary conversations or political discussions, some play table games and talk or read the newspaper whilst others use them as a meeting point to conduct business in a peaceful and cosy environment.
Despite not growing coffee, Egyptians are unique coffee drinkers who love and appreciate a good coffee. Coffee is a culture in Egypt, everyone drinks it, in offices, at conferences, meetings, streets and so on. Usually a cup of coffee, goes hand in hand with a cigarette or shisha.
Egyptian coffee (Also known as Arab coffee or Turkish coffee) is prepared the “Turkish way,” with a layer of foam and in a small cup. The foam is a sign that the coffee was prepared the right way.
The coffee here is famed for the way it is prepared in an ibrik, a small coffee pot that is heated. Sugar is added during the brewing process, not after, removing the need for a serving spoon. Cream or milk is never added to Turkish coffee, with optional cardamon or sugar. It is always served in demitasse cups and in some regions, your fortune is told by the placement of the coffee grinds left in the cup.
So let's make a cup of African coffee to celebrate this great discovery.
- 1 cup cold water (1/2 cup per person). Cup measurement is the small coffee cup that you are going to serve the coffee in, not a standard measuring cup.
- 1 tablespoon extra finely ground coffee (powder consistency).
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (or 1 cardamom pod, crushed).
- (Optional) 1 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste.
It will take : 3 minutes to cook and 10 mins total and serves 2.
- Bring water and sugar to a boil in an ibrik. If you do not have an ibrik, a small saucepan will do.
- Remove from heat then add coffee and cardamon.
- Return saucepan to heat and allow to come to a boil, remove from heat when coffee foams. (This will take around 3-4 minutes, as the coffee warms, a dark foam will build.)
- Return to heat again, allowing to foam and remove from heat again when boiling over.
- Pour into 2 demitasse cups, and let them sit for a few minutes so the grounds can settle to the bottom of the cups. If using a cardamom pod, it can be served with the coffee for added flavor. Serve and enjoy!
Tip: Arab / Turkish coffee is served with cold or room temperature water. The water allows the one to clear his/her palate before drinking coffee for the best enjoyment. In addition to water, most people like to serve it with a small sweet treat like Turkish delights, chocolate or sweets.
Until next time, continue to fill your life with great coffee and plenty of adventure.