While we are famous for being a tea-drinking nation, thanks in part to the British colonisation, coffee also has a rich heritage in Egypt. The Ottoman Empire might have left Egypt, but it did leave some remnants of its times, most importantly a delicious remnant: Turkish coffee. The tradition of Turkish coffee remains in Egyptian society as firmly as the swilling of boiling tea on a hot summer day. However, while tea is a drink for any time or situation, coffee drinking is a more leisurely affair.
Turkish coffee traditionally should be brewed with cold water on a very low flame and so preparing a cup is not something done hastily, unless you do not care about the taste. There are a myriad of blends and roasting techniques and every person has their own preference; some like it dark, heavy and bitter, and some like it light, airy and sweet. Then there is the middle ground, or what we know as the medium roast. This is where most people dwell, it is neither too bitter nor too sweet, but retains qualities of both.
The amount of sugar in the coffee is a different affair. You can have it sugar-free, which is the preferred drink at funerals, or overly sugared which is so sweet you are practically drinking coffee syrup. Then again, there is the middle ground which we call mazboot, the Arabic word for “just right”.
I have always preferred coffee to tea. Even as a toddler I would sneak across rooms and tables to steal coffee cups from guests, sneaking a sip before my parents would remove me from the scene of the crime. I am now a fully-fledged coffee addict. When I found out a new coffee place in town is offering “premium” coffee blends, I got really excited about the prospects of a savoury cup. I headed to Mehawig and ordered my usual; a medium-roast Turkish coffee with spices or mehawig. If we take the name of the store as a guide, that is supposed to be their speciality.
I have to say I was a little disappointed. The coffee did not taste just right; it was overly roasted and not finely ground enough. As I drank I could feel the tiny pebbles of not-so-finely ground coffee on my tongue. The over-roasting meant that the coffee tasted slightly burnt. However, the spice blend was pretty good. There is potential for greatness here if they can grind the coffee right and stop over-roasting it.
I would certainly commend Mehawig for the friendly service and the awesome packaging, and you can go and sample the coffee at any time for free.
Mohamed Abdul Hafez is the CEO of United for Food and Beverage, which owns Mehawig. “The company was founded for the purpose of investing in food and beverage retail. We are a group of friends with backgrounds in real estate, retail, food and beverages, and tourism,” Abdul Hafez said.
“The industry of Turkish coffee and honey in Egypt does not offer a wide variety of options, and the consumer deserves more,” Abdul Hafez explained.
“The different products we have at Mehawig include blends of Turkish coffee, flavoured Turkish coffee, honey with fruits and honey with nuts.”