Qahwa | Gahwa ~ Emirati Black Coffee



Each time I take part in the Blogging Marathon, I try to make sure I select easy themes so that I don’t struggle to finish up the cooking. But still, thanks to my lazy bones, I still ended up skittering through at the end! 😕 This week, for its edition #105, I chose “One country, one category, three dishes”. While I chose this theme, I had no other intention than to cover the country which is my second home – the UAE. After moving in between the category to choose, I ended up choosing “drinks” since that wouldn’t take much time to make nor shoot as well. 😉


The first drink I chose to make was the Qahwa or Gahwa. Qahwa is very well known all throughout the Arab countries. In fact, it is the sign of their hospitality. Every local home would have ready-made Qahwa in a “dallah” – the peculiar shaped vacuum flask that you can see in my pictures, by the way, which isn’t a real one! – along with some fresh dates to serve for any impromptu guests. They also constantly sip on it during their majlis and chit chats. As per Celia’s book:

One of the first things done every morning in the Arab home, after early morning prayers, is to make coffee. This is a ritual which has been practiced for years, although today the coffee is made then stored in a vacuum flask (dalla gah-wa) until the family is ready to drink. Traditionally, fresh green coffee beans were roasted in a frying pan (ta-waa) over a direct fire. Then they were pounded by hand in a mortar with a pestle until they reached a medium sized grain, then boiled. Today the beans can be bought ready-roasted and ground from the supermarkets or coffee shops, or, bowing to tradition, the housewife still roasts and grinds her beans at home.




Most of the outlets these days have roasted coffee used specifically for Qahwa. It tastes different from what is used for espresso. It has a very strong flavor on its own and is served warm. I have seen that it is never too hot. It has a mild tinge of cardamom and even saffron flavors in some cases. This coffee is never sweetened, so it is had with dates or any sweet that goes with it, like Ma’moul, Aseeda, etc. They are drunk in small quantities, in cute looking small cups. I have read that if you want more, you just hand over your cup to your host, but if you don’t want, then you swirl the cup.


The recipe is only a guideline. You can have it strong or mild as per taste. I like it mild even though when I made it, it did turn out quite strong – you can see it in the color too. Hehe… Though cardamom is the main spice used in flavoring the Qahwa, you can see saffron, clove or cinnamon being used, or even a dash of rose water being added. But for authenticity sake, it is better to stick to cardamom. The slight bitter tinge of the Qahwa along with a bite of super sweet date is a total delight to have. Off to this super simple recipe…




5 from 2 votes

Qahwa ~ Emirati Black Coffee

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 6
Author Rafeeda


  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 tbsp heaped coffee powder Arabica roasted
  • 3 crushed cardamom


  • Bring the water to boil along with the cardamom.
  • Add the coffee powder and allow it to simmer for five minutes. Switch off and leave for a couple of minutes.
  • Strain into a dallah and serve warm in small coffee cups along with dates.


Check out the Blogging Marathon page to see what the other Blogging Marathoners are doing this BM#105.


Join the Conversation

  1. Rafeeda, it is really interesting to read about different cultures and habits, thanks for documenting the story behind this simple black coffee. Your struggle to get dishes done on time is something I share don’t feel bad about it…happens to me all the time!…:)..I don’t know how you say drinks are easy to click, I always had problem clicking those properly. However I am eager to read your posts this week and see how you compose!

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Maybe I am just lucky that most of my drinks do come out well… hehe… Thank you so much Valli… 🙂

  2. I like your choice of country , and the complete composition , looks inviting . Thr coffee surely is wonderful and exotic . Looking forward to the rest of the drinks .

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Vaishali…

  3. I thought that flask was a coffee / tea pot. 🙂 It was a informative post and i enjoy reading history or backstories of such traditional recipes.

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      It is a showpiece… 🙂 Thank you so much Suma…

  4. 5 stars
    That is such a simple yet flavorful coffee. I am not a big coffee drinker but my husband is – will have to ask him if he wants to try qahwa 😉 I think I can whip this one up in no time 🙂 Thanks for the recipe and background behind it.

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Pavani… 🙂

  5. Wow! Such a detailed story behind the humble black coffee. Very interesting read, Rafeeda. I wouldn’t have guessed that it was a flash in the background 🙂

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Harini… 🙂

  6. Amara Annapaneni says:

    Enjoyed reading about this special coffee Rafeeda. It’s interesting to always learn about new dishes. The coffee looks delicious.

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Amara…

  7. 5 stars
    Thank you for best story

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