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Lebanese coffee is not a particular type of coffee bean but a method of brewing coffee that is closely related to how Turkish coffee is prepared. The coffee is made using dark roasted beans that are ground down into a very fine powder along with cardamom seeds or cardamom powder and sometimes sugar. The process involves bringing hot water to a boil several times while the fine grounds are in the pot, extracting deeper flavors each time the water is reheated. The sugar and cardamom are added during this cooking process so they are fully infused into the water with the coffee. The resulting coffee is very dark, thick and bitter, and is served in a small demitasse cup.
One of the most vital aspects of making Lebanese coffee is how the beans are ground. They can be thoroughly ground in a mortar and pestle or passed through a burr grinder, with both methods producing a very fine coffee powder. This powder partially dissolves in the water and creates more surface area so the flavor of the beans can be extracted more easily.
The type of pot in which Lebanese coffee is brewed is known as an ibrik, and it essentially is a small metal pot that has a very long, narrow handle attached to the rim. The ibrik is filled with water and heated until the water boils. At this point, if sugar is desired, it is added to the pot and boiled for a moment so it starts to create syrup. Once the water has boiled, the ibrik is removed from the heat and the coffee is added along with cardamom, either in seed form or as a powder.
The pot, which now contains all the ingredients to make the coffee, is placed back over the heat and taken to a boil again for only a second, after which it is removed from the flame and allowed to cool for a moment. This process is repeated three times to extract the flavor of the grinds. One challenge when brewing Lebanese coffee is to bring the water to a boil without burning the coffee or allowing it to bubble up and overflow.
As soon as Lebanese coffee is finished, it is poured into a small cup and served. The coffee normally is consumed while it is very hot. It is traditional in some Lebanese households to offer Lebanese coffee to guests when they arrive, even if they are only staying for a few minutes. When pouring coffee for guests, it is considered good form to attempt to establish a tall layer of foam on top of the coffee as it is being poured.
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