A Blessed Beverage: Coffee in Yemeni Culture
It has been called many things before—the driving force of history; a drink of the gods—but many are not aware that this bitter black brew that very quickly become one of the world’s most sought-after commodities and the primary source of caffeine has its origins in 15th-century Yemen.
This is beverage is none other than coffee (or “Qahwa” in Arabic), known to be consumed originally by the Sufi brotherhoods as an aid to concentration and even spiritual intoxication when they chanted the name of God in their Dhikr ceremonies.
The use of coffee became widespread in Mecca and subsequently Egypt, Aleppo, and Istanbul in the 1500s.
Because of coffee's ability to increase alertness and stimulate the central nervous system, some scholars compared it to wine, calling for the beverage to be banned.
However, all attempts at banning coffee failed, and religious scholars eventually came to a sensible consensus that coffee was permissible.
This workshop provides a brief history and background of coffee in Sufism, as well as demonstrates the ceremonial preparation, presentation and etiquette in traditional Yemeni Arabic coffee.