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All the world’s coffee in one city: Beirut

LEBANON - All the world’s coffee in one city: Beirut LEBANON All the world’s coffee in one city: Beirut

In the cosmopolitan, Westernised city of Beirut, coffee is served in every conceivable way: from the traditional Bedouin brew to Turkish, spiced or American coffee, espresso, and white coffee (suitable for those who cannot tolerate caffeine). Away from the urban areas, local traditions prevail, including the unusual coffee drink obtained from roasted acorns, or mate, a typically South American infusion which was imported by expats returning from Brazil.

While in Beirut, which has been rebuilt several times after long years of fighting, the historic cafés no longer exist (except for the Gemmayzeh Cafè, a gathering place for artists, intellectuals and elderly backgammon players), in Tripoli you can still find some of the old-style cafés where people would drink Turkish coffee amid clouds of narghilè smoke.

Also typical are the street coffee sellers who offer passers-by Turkish coffee served from colourful portable kitchens, Western-style coffee extracted from espresso machines mounted on tricycles and carts, or coffee prepared according to an Arab tradition, served from large metal jugs with a built-in heating element.


White coffee

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 4 teaspoons orange flower water
  • 4 cups spring water
  • sugar or honey to taste

Bring the water to boil in a jug, add sugar and honey whilst the water is very hot, and stir to melt. Aside, pour the orange flower water in cups and pour in the sugared water. Serve the beverage very hot at the end of a meal or at night before going to bed for its relaxing properties.

Mouhallabieh - Orange flower water flan

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 1 litre (35 oz) of full fat milk
  • 4 tablespoons of rice flour
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) sugar
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) of natural Aleppo pistachios, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons orange flower water

Boil the milk in a metal jug. In a separate bowl, dissolve the rice flour in a little cold milk, then add to the metal jug, mixing thoroughly with a whisk. Heat until the mixture begins to froth and thicken. Then add the sugar, and mix well until it has completely dissolved. When the mixture starts to become denser, add the orange flower water and mix one last time before pouring into the cups. Dust with a sprinkling of finely chopped pistachio nuts and serve chilled as a dessert.