Prepared by roasting coffee beans then boiling them with cardamom and saffron, the traditional “gahwa” or Arabic coffee is usually enjoyed in the Qatari majlis — the all-male gathering that forms the centrepiece of social life in the country.
“I didn’t know it has coffee in it,” said Lanka Perera, 29, a Sri Lankan expatriate who has lived in the tiny, gas-rich Gulf emirate for three years, adding that it doesn’t taste like “the coffee that we know”.
As custom dictates, the hot drink is prepared in front of guests by the head of the household and served by his eldest son.
But in more recent years, Arabic coffee has spilt beyond its traditional confines, making its way into commercial establishments and cultural houses, offering a taste of Qatari culture to residents and visitors alike.
One such independent cultural centre is Embrace Doha, where Perera attended a session on the coffee and its origins.
“Gahwa is something that we drink almost every day… we see it in our office because there are lots of Qataris, so they bring it and then we taste it,” she told AFP after the session.
“But… I didn’t know what’s in it and the story behind it, the origin behind it,” she confessed.