Alexandria, city of Alexander the Great, and Cleopatra. is also a city with an ancient coffee culture.
Before the Revolution, Alexandria’s coffee houses and patisseries were the hub of bourgeois society. Artists, writers and socialites mingled in the city’s coffee shops like the Athineos, The Trianon and Pastroudis. Cafes like these now hang on by a thread, evoking the vibrant intellectual life of a period when EM Forster and Lawrence Durrell came here for inspiration.
At the Sofianopoulo café, they still roast their own coffee with a 75 year old roasting machine.
After the coffee mosque and the souk, the coffee house is the third most important public place in many Arabian towns.
Starting in Istanbul, coffee began its triumphal progress first throught the Ottoman Empire and then all over Europe. That’s why we often speak of Turkish rather than Arabian coffee.
It was Islamic mystics from Southern Arabia who first ground the black beans of a strange African shrub and used the powder to make a strong brew that helped them to stay awake during their long nocturnal meditations. Coffee became known as the ‘wine of the Arabs’ because of its role in Arabian culture, economy and cuisine.
Coffee arrived in Egypt via the Sufi clerics who met Yemeni clerics in Mecca during the annual pilgrimage.
It remains a Symbol of hospitality and a token of respect in The life of Alexandria and other towns and cities in Egypt and across the Arab world.