Taste of Coffee with Tradition
You probably haven’t heard that history of coffee drinking in Iran is much longer than in Europe. Persian and Arab merchants brought coffee from Yemen around the 15th century and the drink became so popular that different cultural traditions evolved around it. The richest of these traditions can be found among Arab speaking Iranians in province of Khuzestan.
Coffee has a central role in the southern region of Iran. For centuries, coffee has been imported by cargo ships through Persian Gulf and Oman Sea, and as northern regions were adapting the habit of tea drinking, coffee stayed the most popular beverage in the south. It became the central pillar of hospitality and coffee drinking ceremonies became the most common behavior in special events.
That rich and warm hospitality
Generally speaking, in the region of Khuzestan guests are considered a blessing. They are greeted with a warm welcome from the head of the family or Sheykh of the tribe and are invited to a special structure called Mozif.
Mozif is a separate made out of a kind of papyrus and decorated with carpets and cushions. This is the place where the host prepared for the comfort of the guest and coffee is usually prepared in the middle of this room. Head of the family sits with the gusts and have conversations while someone, usually the oldest son of the host, makes the coffee ready. The coffee bearer is called Saqhi.
The coffee procedure
It is quite normal that the process of preparing coffee begin by roasting the coffee beans. The roasted beans are then crushed in a mortar and then transferred to the coffee pot called Dalleh. When the coffee is brewed and ready, Saqhi pours it into small cups, holding the Dalleh in the left hand and the cup in the right. Saqhi usually clicks the Dalleh and cup to make a small sound, letting the guest know that his coffee is ready. Guest has to take the cup with his right hand, and drink the coffee without putting the cup down.
Coffee is served as long as the guest does not show the specific gesture. When he does not want more coffee, he shakes the cup to left and right to show that he is done. Otherwise the cup keeps getting poured, and not drinking the coffee is a disrespect towards the host.
Codes and signals
If the guest puts down the cup it means he has a request. If he drinks the second cup, it means he enjoyed the coffee and if the coffee drinking goes to the third run, that indicates a sworn brotherhood between host and the guest to support each other in any difficulties in the future.
This final cup is usually served by the host himself. The whole ceremony is full of codes and meanings which may reveal the purpose of the meeting. Guests often come to request help from the host, or to get advice on the issues they are dealing with.
Fereshteh Sabetian is a World Heritage Studies graduate, a solo traveler, a coffee enthusiast and a cat lover :)