A Guide to Amman’s Tea And Coffee Culture 

Picture of a Bedouin man pouring traditonal tea into a cup
Picture of a Bedouin man pouring traditonal tea into a cup
Inka Piegsa

In Jordan, tea and coffee are much more than just hot beverages. The enjoyment and preparation of these national drinks follow centuries of traditions and form a cornerstone of Jordan’s culture. Jordanians would rather drink water than revert to such methods as preparing instant coffee or using tea bags. Here is the history and meaning of Jordan’s coffee and tea culture and the best tea and coffee houses in Amman.

Jordan’s Coffee Culture

A Bedouin man in Wadi Rum desert welcoming visitors with Arabic Coffee

A huge part of Jordan consists of desert land, once inhabited by various Bedouin tribes. Survival in such an environment depended on food, drink and shelter and therefore an innate character trait of the nomadic Bedouins was to not only look after their own, but also extend hospitality to any stranger, a kindness that extends to all Jordanians.

Jordan’s coffee ceremony is elaborate; it not only provides a hot drink, but is also a form of communication. Refusing a cup of coffee is not an option, as it can be construed as an insult to the host.

In the preparation of coffee, Jordanians use Arabic coffee beans, finely ground and often add in ground cardamom seeds. Coffee and water are boiled over a stove in a special pot until foam rises to the surface. The brew is poured into tiny cups, often presented in beautiful silver holders. Neither milk nor sugar are used, but the coffee is often served with sweets such as dates.

The host uses three cups. Traditionally, he pours the first for himself to show that it’s perfect and that there is nothing bad in the coffee; the second cup goes to the oldest male in the room. Always use your right hand to take your cup, as using the left is considered rude.

Jordanian coffee service

The manner in which guests drink their coffee is a type of ‘conversation’ in itself. Shaking your cup slightly means you don’t want any more (but never ask for fewer than three cups). If the guest doesn’t sip but keeps his cup in front of him, it means he has something to discuss. Some of these gestures may have been lost in modern times, but the basic sense of hospitality and ceremony remains even if you have your coffee in one of Amman’s great coffee houses.

Tea culture in Jordan

Traditional Arabic tea cup

Tea in Jordan goes back to the same Bedouin traditions and involves an equally elaborate preparation. Water and sugar are brought to a boil over tea leaves and the mixture is boiled for several minutes. Do not stir, but let the tea simmer until the liquid has taken on a beautiful amber colour, before adding a sprig of mint or thyme for additional flavour. The tea is then served in glasses resting in silver cup holders.

Amman’s best coffee and tea houses

You’ll have the best experience of the traditional Jordanian tea and coffee ceremonies if you are lucky enough to have been invited to a Bedouin tent. If not, there are some beautiful cafés in Amman and you will still be spoiled for choice. The ceremony may not be as elaborate, but the end product is equally delicious. Visit any of these establishments to get a flavour of Jordan, or alternatively enjoy your coffee from some of colourful street vendors, served fresh from silver urns.

Dimitri’s Coffee

Dimitri’s Coffee

This coffee house has become very popular because of its locally roasted beans from around the world. You can see jars of the coffee beans on offer lined up at the counter.

Seven Pennies Coffee
If you want a modern urban atmosphere in addition to great coffee visit Seven Pennies.

Jungle Fever Coffee and Tea House
For tea there’s nowhere better than Jungle Fever Coffee and Tea House. An added bonus is that it’s located in Amman’s National Gallery of Fine Arts.

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