• by Zara Dance

Ahwah - Egyptian Coffee How to order your coffee in Cairo

Updated: Aug 16

Ahwah!! Do you like coffee?

I LOVE COFFEE… and Egypt does the BEST coffee: actually my friends take the micky out of me that I always claim Egypt does the best everything but this time I'm serious - IT IS AMAZING! Trust me, it's called Ahwah.

It is sometimes referred to as Turkish Coffee (but it is different, it's Turkish Coffee done EGYPTIAN STYLE). It is thick and expresso like, with the ground coffee called “bonn” sitting at the bottom. It is served in a little cup and is soooo aromatic and yummy. How is it made? It is made by boiling the coffee in special little pots if you don’t do it right, you get a grainy or watery Ahwah.

My auntie told me a story once about how, in olden days when looking for a husband, the potential in-laws would visit and they would ask the potential bride to make them Ahwah. Your suitability as a wife for their son would be party judged by how well you made the Ahwah. Can I make it right? NAHHHHH but if any potential in-laws ask, I can let them know of some great coffee shops around Cairo that do and which also do a good shisha! (no wonder I’m single!!)

How is it served? The important thing about Ahwah is how you like it served. There are FIVE WAYS you can order your black Ahwah in Cairo and it’s all to do with HOW MUCH SUGAR YOU LIKE – so much so there are 5 levels of how sugary you can have it:

“Sada”: this translates literally to plain. And you may have guessed this mean with no sugar. “Areehaa”: this comes from the word

“Areehaa” which means smell – a bit like we use the expression “a whiff of” it means a tiny little hint (a whiff) of sugar.

“Masboot” this translates literally to exact/exactly/spot on. If someone is telling you something you agree with you can reply “masboot” “yer exactly”. When it comes to Ahwah this means it's not too sweet and not too bitter. It's in the middle.

“Maando” Apparently this word has no direct translation. The word was created by barristars just for ahwah, for people who want it a little more sugary than Masboot but not as sugary as the next level up.

“Zeyadaa” The ultimate level of sugaryness which only someone who is a true Egyptian at heart can handle. The word Zeyadda translates literally to extra/left over, so it is a level of extra excess sugar, about 3-4 teaspoons in a cup: remember that Ahwah is about the size of an expresso, prepare for a double caffeine sugar high!!!

How do I like my Ahwah? Actually I don’t like my Ahwah black. I like it made with milk (still it comes as a very small coffee and made in the same way but with milk not water). For this you can ask for it with milk “bi leban” OR as the locals ask, “frans-awy” translating literally to "the French way". And the level of sugar I like? Areehaa!! Just a whiff.

And don’t forget EGYPT IS A PLACE OF MAGIC, WONDER AND CRAZINESS so once you have drunk your ahwah, flip your cup over into the saucer and let it sit for awhile. Then turn it over and get a traditional Egyptian woman to read your coffee grounds .... a window into your future …. (if it's Zeyadaa I see a late night ahead lol) In conclusion I like a Turkish coffee, done in a French style with a whiff of sugar and FULL OF EGYPTIAN MAGIC: “Ahwah, Areehaa, Fransawy” mmmmmmmmm Thank you to Ahmed for filming me ❤

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Photography by Evie Kalila
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