Cairo Coffee Tour

A few weeks ago, I finally made it to the 1st coffee capital in the world – to Cairo!
Almost exactly 3 years ago I wrote about Egypt’s long coffee tradition, which goes back to the 17th century. At home I tried the traditional coffee preparations like Ahwa and Kahwa bl baharat. Now I could finally taste the original on site. Which place would be more suitable than the capital of Egypt?! At the end of the 17th century there were already 643 Bayt Qahwa coffee houses.

El Fishawy

Of course, my tour starts in Cairo’s oldest café – El Fishawy. It is located in an alley in the famous Chan al-Chalili bazaar district and has been run by the same family since 1773. A few meters further is the Al Ahzar Mosque – one of the first universities in the world. It is therefore not surprising that El Fishawy was and still is a popular meeting place for writers, artists, musicians and politicians. Today there are also tourists like me. The café is open 24/7. Tea is the most popular drink here. It is served in a small enamel jug. The menu also includes karkadeh, a hibiscus tea that tastes particularly good when served cold. You can order a hookah with one of the countless flavors like apple, rose or vanilla.
But I want coffee! And it comes in a traditional Egyptian Kanakah – a long-handled coffee pot similar to the one used in Turkey called cezve. My turkish coffee comes medium sweet as always! What can I say, in the ambience between yellow walls with arabesque framed mirrors and dark wood, oriental tiles, lamps and furniture, the coffee just tastes great. I also get a few tips for the souq from someone sitting at next to my table. Conclusion: Cairo’s #1 address for coffee – the 1001 night coffee feeling is free.

 

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Chan al-Chalili

I just can’t help it! When I travel, I bring at least one new piece for my coffee collection at home. The plan is set, I need a typical Turkish coffee blend with cardamom and a coffee service, including a tray, coffee pot and coffee cups. Only a few meters further from El Fishawy I find the perfect shop without being lured into by an intrusive merchant. The enchanting interior made of brass lamps and dishes is sufficient. And of course there are plenty of tea and coffee accessories in the back right corner. Now I only need to decide, because I would like to take all the richly hand-decorated jugs with me. Gladly I could decide and left the shop with a big grin.

 

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Al Yemeni Cafe

Taxi driver for president! After I bought dishes at the bazaar, I could not find freshly roasted coffee. So I catch a taxi and ask the driver. Tadaaa … the nice gentleman drives me straight to a coffee roaster where some others want to buy coffee as well around 6pm. According to the website, Al-Yemeni Cafe has been the first Egyptian coffee producer in Egypt and also in the Arab world since 1940. Here you can not only choose between single origin coffee from various countries, but also the degree of roasting. I decide to make my own coffee blend and take a medium roasted mix from Brazil and Ethiopia. They grind it very fine for my Kanakah and add 10% cardamom for the typical Arabic taste. It not only tastes delicious – the crema is awsome! If you want to try the coffee – they deliver even to Germany!

 

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Groppi

If you are looking for further coffee house highlights in the city, the famous Café Groppi should not be missing! It is located on the corner of Talaat Harb and Qasr El Nil Street in the city center. It was opened in 1891 by the Swiss Giacomo Groppi and was once the trendiest place in Cairo. With its Art Deco design, the delicate mosaic tiles in the entrance area and the rotunda style, Groppi’s beautiful architecture attracted many high-end customers and even convinced King Farouk at the time with his homemade chocolate. Unfortunately I’m a little unlucky. The Groppi is currently being restored. So I have to come back. Attention! A few streets down there is a café with the same name!

Café Riche

However, I find open doors a few meters away in Café Riche. The building, opened in 1908, is one of the most famous landmarks in downtown Cairo with French charm. Here, too, intellectuals and revolutionaries met and made it a setting for political events. The café was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1992 and remained closed for almost a decade. Today there are only seats in the covered outdoor area. The inner café makes a somewhat abandoned impression. After all, I had the pleasure of being served my Turkish coffee by a waiter who probably already worked here when the café opened. Otherwise, the restaurant does not really exude much charm …

 

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Unfortunately, I couldn’t visit the next three addresses myself, but they sound very promising!

Zahret Al Bustan

A few meters further, you also fall directly into the next well-known café in Cairo – the Zahret Al Bostan. In the 1960s, Cairo’s writers met here and played backgammon and smoked hookah. Today the Bustan is an important meeting point for young activists, graffiti artists and painters. So it is not surprising that the facade is decorated with portraits of stars from the Egyptian pop culture. The actual café is a small, tiled room. However, guests tend to sit on plastic chairs outside on the sidewalk. As soon as it is dark, it becomes cozy in the midst of the many fairy lights.

Al Horreya Cafe

Three blocks away you find the Al Horreya cafe – a mix of a café and bar with a vintage Cairo feel from the 1930s. The café was built over the remains of a famous Egyptian officer who led a mutiny against the French. It is one of the liveliest and most historic cafes in the city with a mix of business people, tourists and students. Here you can play chess or other board games over a cup of tea or coffee and refresh yourself on the right side of the room with a cold Stella beer. Accordingly, it can get a little louder. And although no food is served, you are welcome to bring with you.

Cilantro

Café Cilantro is around the corner from the famous Tahrir Square. It is Egypt’s first and leading domestic western style coffee shop chain. So if you want to drink your coffee as always, you will be served hot and cold international coffee specialties – from espresso and cappuccino, to mazagran, cortado and café miel to cookies mocha frappé. Juices, teas, sandwiches, salads and tarts are also on the menu.

 

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