Algerian Coffee and the story behind the famous Mazagran

Algerian Coffee and the story behind the famous Mazagran

Coffee with a long tradition the the country where Mazagran has its origin
  • In Algeria, coffee is called “shaadhiliyye“, named after Ali Ibn Umar al-Shaadiliyye, who lived until 1418.
  • It is said that he was the first to bring coffee as a drink from Ethiopia as a remedy to al-Mokha in Yemen.
  • Algerian travelers may have come into contact with coffee for the first time in Cairo.
  • Already at that time, Cairo was an important center of the Islamic world and a hub of goods and ideas, as well as stops for many pilgrims on their Hajj to Mecca.
  • Today Algeria imports 39 % of its coffee from Ivory Coast and 44 % from Indonesia and Vietnam.
  • Get 4 typical Algerian coffee recipes including the story behind the famous Mazagran.


Traditional Preparation

Since the Algerians are very hospitable, they like to drink coffee or tea together.


The Tuareg drink their coffee very strong and sometimes without sugar.

Qahwa Maâtra/ Café Algérois

Traditional drink from the 17th century.
Ingredients for about 4 small cups of coffee

First mix the cinnamon with the ground coffee. Prepare coffee and then add the vanilla and orange blossom water. Then wait 2-3 minutes. Pour the coffee into small cups and, if necessary, sweeten with sugar. The coffee is served with a dessert with honey such as Besboussa, Qalb Bel Louz or Maqrout.


Mocha with goat milk

The coffee in Algeria is usually a very strong mocha. Traditionally, it is served with rich goat’s milk*.

Café Mazagran

is a cold, sweetened coffee from Algeria and is probably “the first iced coffee“.

The French invasion of Algeria began in the 1830s when they took control of the Ottoman Empire. In the last years of the 1830s, French troops faced a resistance movement led by Sufi Emir Abd al-Qadir.

Regarded by Emir Abd el-Kader as a violation of the Treaty of Tafna, which he had signed in May 1837 with General Bugeaud, this led to the resumption of the war. After Abd al-Qadir found a breach of the treaty, the war was continued. 123 French soldiers were captured by Abd al-Qadir’s soldiers in a fortress at the outpost of Mazagran. When they were freed after days of siege by reinforcements, the soldiers were celebrated in France as heroes. Mazagran was in vogue because of the exaggerated portrayal. The most durable monument for Mazagran was cold coffee.


Mazagran glas
Mazagran glas
Mazagran glas

The soldiers could not cut their coffee with brandy in the fortress as usual. Instead, they cut it with water. So, in French cafés, they ordered “un mazagran” and got coffee served in a tall glass, sometimes with ice, and accompanied by a beaker of cold water to cut.

  • Meanwhile, the Mazagran has disappeared in France. For this he has been revived as a coffee lemonade in Portugal. Sometimes rum and mint are added and sweetened with sugar syrup.
  • In Austria Mazagran coffee is prepared with rum, served with an ice cube and drunk in one sip.
  • In Catalonia, iced coffee is prepared with lemon.

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