Thoughts on Arabic (Gulf) coffee?

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.
particularA

#1: Post by particularA » Nov 02, 2014, 4:26 pm

First of all, this post is _not_ about "Turkish" coffee, but about coffee as it is traditionally prepared and served in the Arabian peninsula, often with cardamom and other spices.

There is information worthy of doctoral dissertations on many methods of coffee preparation, but I have yet to see much on what some claim to be the original method. On Arabic coffee, I have understood the following (and please correct me where I'm wrong):

- Very lightly roasted beans, lighter than any roast you'd expect elsewhere, greenish brown.
- Ground medium fine, perhaps close to fine drip (or whatever you'd get with your mortar and pestle)
- Boiled for about 15 minutes
- Cardamom, and sometimes saffron and rosewater may be added towards the end of boiling
- Filter out the grounds and serve

Concerning only the coffee (and not the spices), what does this type of coffee taste like as compared to "regular" black coffee? Boiling regular roasted coffee would render it unpalatable by most standards; is it different with such lightly roasted coffee, or is it merely in order to suck every last taste-molecule out of the grounds? Tradition or refined method? It depends on the desired output, I guess.

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tamarian

#2: Post by tamarian » Nov 03, 2014, 2:00 pm

particularA wrote: - Very lightly roasted beans, lighter than any roast you'd expect elsewhere, greenish brown.
- Ground medium fine, perhaps close to fine drip (or whatever you'd get with your mortar and pestle)
- Boiled for about 15 minutes
- Cardamom, and sometimes saffron and rosewater may be added towards the end of boiling
- Filter out the grounds and serve

Concerning only the coffee (and not the spices), what does this type of coffee taste like as compared to "regular" black coffee? Boiling regular roasted coffee would render it unpalatable by most standards; is it different with such lightly roasted coffee, or is it merely in order to suck every last taste-molecule out of the grounds? Tradition or refined method? It depends on the desired output, I guess.
Yes, it is very light. I wouldn't say greenish brown, more like orange brown. Grind is to taste, the finer the grind, the less boiling is required. Most would prefer cardamom and saffron or substitutes, and some purists prefer just coffee. And yes, it is filtered while pouring, as the filter is installed at the mouth of the serving kettle.

The taste varies depending on the beans, which is usually DP Ethiopian or from Yemen. It is generally sweeter, and less complex. You would get one pronounced flavor, sometimes sesame, raisins or popcorn. If the beans are very dry, you need cardamom and spices to mask the flavor taints of past crop or hay and rot.

Here's a picture of the bean's roast level, and the brew color. This is the Saudi central style of roasting. Other regions are usually darker:

Image

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another_jim
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#3: Post by another_jim » Dec 07, 2014, 10:30 pm

I tried this roast level, or an approximation of it -- I roasted to about 375F/190C, about 5C below the first crack on set on my roaster and thermometer. I was roasting the Nekisse, a Sidamo region DP, and at this level, the bready smells end and the floral smells begin. In general, it is where the roasting smell is a preview of the dry aroma.

The most important fact is that the intensely grassy/bitter chlorogenic acid taste is entirely absent -- this flavor only appears during the first crack, and creates a temeprature range in which it is a bad idea to end the roast. But at this 375F level, there is a mild breadiness, a mild acidity, almost no caramels or bitterness of any kind. The flavors are muted, but the retronasal/finish is very much like the dry aroma, rather than the more caramel and bitteer flavors in darker roasts.

The strength is tea like, albeit a very strong tea. There is a great deal of sweetness. So the overall impression is that it is similar to a soft drink (I used a standard brew recipe) The aftertaste is long, as long or longer than in a regular roast.

This roast level is definitely commercially viable, perhaps more so than many Nordic style roasts. It will leave people who like taste of bitter strong coffee utterly cold, but non coffee drinkers who like tea or sot drinks will find this very attractive.

I'll certainly be trying it out on all visitors I get to see how they react.
Jim Schulman

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Randy G.

#4: Post by Randy G. » Dec 08, 2014, 1:19 am

Jim,
How long should that roast (to about 375F) take?
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another_jim
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#5: Post by another_jim » Dec 08, 2014, 1:11 pm

I slowed mine down by running at a lower environmental temperature and minimum air flow, so that it took around ten minutes. I don't know if that is the right way to do it or not.
Jim Schulman

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kaldi61

#6: Post by kaldi61 » Jan 18, 2015, 5:26 pm

Very interesting post. A friend of mine from Riyadh was trying to explain the technique to me. It was unclear. I used to get the coffee mixed with cardamon from a market in northern Montreal years ago when I lived there, but would make it Turkish style (3 'foamings' and remove from heat; gentle decant). Quite tasty, but a totally different drink than high-end pourover, siphon, press, or espresso. I have yet to have a true cup of Arabic coffee as you guys describe, pre-crack roast, long water exposure at high temperature, filtered before service. Sounds similar in some respects to an Ethiopian service.
-Nelson

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#7: Post by Bodka Coffee » Jan 18, 2015, 6:17 pm

I'm glad this topic came back up as I hadn't read where Jim had tried it. Think I'll follow his lead and try it myself. Maybe my next door neighbor, who says coffee is bitter, will like it.
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Chert
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#8: Post by Chert » Jan 18, 2015, 6:50 pm

Currently I encounter "white coffee" offered here and there at espresso spots. Perhaps this arabic preparation was the inspiration?

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another_jim
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#9: Post by another_jim » replying to Chert » Jan 18, 2015, 9:36 pm

The rep on white coffee is that it's bready and baked. This may be a slur; but the roast I tried went further than bready/baked.

This thread makes me wonder about "dead spots" when roasting. If you drop around 360F, you get bready/baked coffee. If you drop at around 375F, you get the Gulf roast. Drop it during the first, you get green and grassy, drop it just as the first tails off, you great light roasted coffe with no roast flavors. Then there's around a 5F range of slightly dull coffee where the roast flavors haven't properly developed, and then another good spot, just ahead of the second, when the light caramls start to get interesting, etc, etc.
Jim Schulman

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EvanOz85

#10: Post by EvanOz85 » Jan 20, 2015, 11:25 am

Jim, how did you brew the roast you did?