CAIRO – 4 May 2022: Coffee is one of the inherited beverages in the culture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and throughout history has symbolized values that express generosity and hospitality.
The Saudi and Egyptian people historically used coffee as a welcome drink, serving dates and chocolate with it during events and gatherings.
On the occasion of approving the current year as the year of Saudi coffee, it has been officially recognized as a cultural sign that characterizes the Kingdom, whether through its cultivation, or the methods of preparation and serving.
The year 2022 will be an occasion to celebrate Saudi coffee as a distinctive cultural product for the Kingdom, and to confirm the link between local coffee and the Saudi identity, based on the specificity of the Saudi society’s dealing with coffee and its distinctive atmosphere.
The campaign of the Ministry of Culture, "The Year of Saudi Coffee 2022", aim to highlight the manifestations of generosity and authentic Saudi hospitality associated with Saudi coffee, and its unique customs. This is in addition to shedding light on the great cultural diversity in the Kingdom through the various ways of preparing and serving Saudi coffee.
The difference between Saudi coffee and Egyptian coffee
Cairo is considered one of the first capitals in the world to know the taste of coffee at the hands of the colonialists. At the end of the 17th century, the Egyptian capital had more than 643 coffee houses. They are cafes that have become cultural centers and places where people gather for the sake of exchanging conversations, anecdotes, and matters of life.
In Egypt, when ordering coffee, it is necessary to specify the amount of sugar, in contrast to Saudi coffee, which is rarely sweetened. One can choose coffee with light sugar, medium sugar or extra sugar, and bitter coffee remains the title of sad occasions such as mourning.
Egypt is one of the coffee importing countries, as the coffee cultivation methodology recently entered Egypt, specifically in 2017, in order to achieve even self-sufficiency, after spending LE 2.3 billion annually on importing coffee beans from abroad.
On the other hand, according to the latest statistics, Saudi Arabia produces 800 tons of coffee annually, from 600 farms inside the Kingdom. By 2025, the Kingdom aims to plant more than 1 million Khawlani coffee trees, a symbol of the Saudi coffee industry and one of the rarest and most expensive coffee beans in the world.
Coffee is prepared in Saudi Arabia in several ways, including the usual way of drying coffee, and placing it under the sun for four to six weeks. As for the second method, it is called “Maghsoola”, in which the outer peel of the coffee bean is extracted by soaking it in water, then it is left to dry.
One of the well-known ways to prepare coffee inside the Kingdom is the “Asaliya” method, which is a mixture of the first and second methods. It gives an excellent and distinguished flavor, moderate in acidity and sweetness.
Returning to Egypt, there are many schools of coffee preparation due to the many types of imported coffee, but Turkish coffee remains the most popular. It is the type inherited from the Ottoman era and is prepared by mixing coffee beans with spices. The Turkish coffee is easy to prepare anywhere, unlike European and American coffee that needs coffee machines.
It is also known that Saudi coffee is prevalent in Egypt's desert areas and the border governorates with the Kingdom, especially among the Bedouin tribes, where green coffee beans are grown in the desert or imported from different cities of the Kingdom, prepared in the Saudi way and presented to guests with dates.
It is customary in Saudi Arabia that loved ones celebrate the end of their fast on the first day of Eid el-Fitr by gathering to drink hot coffee, which is the main drink in eid gatherings of relatives and friends.
There is a well-known custom associated with the Saudi family as well as the Egyptian one during the first day of Eid, where wives receive their husbands and sons upon their return from the Eid prayer, with cups of coffee, which are served with baked goods, sweets and luxurious types of dates.
2022 was announced the “Year of Saudi Coffee”, as one of the programs to achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Where campaigns were launched during the current Eid el-Fitr in various regions of the Kingdom, including the Riyadh Park Commercial Center in Riyadh, Dhahran Mall in the Eastern Province, and the Arab Mall in Jeddah.
A special corner has been allocated for Saudi coffee in these malls, and shoppers will be welcomed with five types of coffee drinks from different regions with luxurious dates.