It is hard to walk for 5 minutes in any modern city without finding a Coffee Shop. From large commercial brands to cosier neighbourhood jaunts, coffee is a cornerstone of modern society. Considering this, let’s ponder for a moment all the ways in which Coffee has filtered into the lives of various groups of people living in Israel
Did you know that the Coffee plant actually originates from Ethiopia? Yoovi from Beit Ambousa, an Ethiopian culture centre in Gedera, explains how the ritual of roasting coffee beans is integral to Ethiopian hospitality and how the smell conjures up for her memories of a country she left far behind.
The Documentary “Kol Anshei Kassit” (All the people of Kassit), explores the Tel Aviv institution of Café Kassit, that operated in the 1920’s on Dizengoff street and was home to a variety of characters, from all walks of life, political and cultural. It was Tel Aviv’s Café de Flore or Café Central. Today an exhibition in the Shalom Tower Galleries pays tribute to Tel Aviv’s Café’s. You can perouse the pictures and be taken back to the roaring 20’s where coffee houses were a bursting hive of activity.
Meanwhile, those in Jerusalem do no go unnoticed either, the famous Café Tmol Shilshom in Nahalat Shiva, was frequented by Nobel Prize winning author Shai Agnon, on a regular basis, the establishment named after one of his iconic works. Wandering around the Old City of Jerusalem or of Jaffa, you can’t ignore the aromas of Turkish coffee wafting around, here the black ground coffee sometimes known as ‘Café Botz’ (Mud coffee) for the clump of residue left behind in your cup, is particularly unique for it is mixed with cardamom,
The Druze tradition, of entertaining guests who come to visit their tent, is centred around the coffee ceremony. The nuances of the coffee ceremony are demonstrated at the Joe Allon Centre for Bedouin Culture in Lahav Forest. Tradition holds that 3 cups of coffee are to be shared between the host and guest, each step has meaning and the rituals is carefully carried out and followed by the Druze, it is a way of preserving past and ensuring continuity of practices into the future.
A trip to Nazareth market allows a peak into the secret business of men, women are few and far between in this coffee house, the gentlemen are all busy engaged in games of cards of backgammon, and the only thing on the menu is coffee, no food, tea with spearmint leaves can be obtained, but with a quizzical look.
Today, the trend to spend time within the walls of a Café, is an activity pursued now more than ever. Rina Shapira and David Navon, investigated this from an academic perspective and they concluded that the human pursuit of needing to be social while being alone, brings people to congregate in coffee shops, who serve the purpose of providing a space for being alone together. You can notice lots of people sitting by themselves on their computers building the start up nation.
Friday brunch has evolved into a common practice of many cafes today, offering all you can eat options and of course unlimited refills, sometimes the motivating factor for leaving the house, is simply in search of the best brunch deal, even if it is in another city! Often referred to as the “parliament”, friends gather to drink coffee and hold sessions on discussing day to day events, it is a way of keeping track of each other, checking in for some routine and stability in the fast pace of life. It is also fun to just people watch while sipping a Cafe Hafuch (upside down coffee the affectionate name for a cappuccino here).
The Coffee Culture in Israel is diverse and not one to be missed! Come with me and explore it!