The Genie In My Coffee Cup

The Genie In My Coffee Cup

I admit it. I’m addicted.

It’s one cup every day, but it’s strong. And if I don’t get it, the bottom drops out of the world. I guess that’s addiction.

If for some strange reason I’ve left the house having missed my morning cuppah, I’ll pop into a bakery and buy a very good coffee to go.  Cafés and bakeries offer pick-me-up “upside down” coffee with milk to go along with your Danish. Meat restaurants offer bitter, black coffee in small glasses, a digestive after a solid meal. It’s hard to find a bad cuppah in Israel.

Take a walk downtown and you’ll smell the aroma of Turkish coffee that the workers are drinking wafting out to the sidewalk as you pass the shops. Sometimes a whiff of cardamom will be in the coffee fragrance, and then you’ll know that the one drinking it is probably an older Sephardic person, or a Yemenite, who traditionally drop a cardamom seed or two in their cup.

My local shuk has several spice shops where you can watch them roast and grind your coffee beans.


But I like this one best.

coffee shop israel

That’s one of three siblings who run this little store. They’re friendly and they speak Ladino, another thing I like. They have all the spices I need, and their cacao and vanilla sticks are the freshest I’ve found. I buy their mix of Colombian plus another bean variety that they keep secret; a quarter-kilo at a time. The package is still hot from the grinding when I bring it home. It releases a divine, chocolatey fragrance when I open it. If I’m not going to brew a cup right away, I store it in the freezer to preserve the flavor.

While I do own French pressimage french pressand a well-worn Italian espresso pot,

espresso-potI’ve given up using them, except when guests come. Every morning, I reach for my faithful finjan.


The finjan has a long handle to keep your fingers safe while the water boils, and has a spouted lip . Traditional finjans are often decorated. Here are two I picked up at the Beduin market in Beersheva and keep on top of my pantry for decoration.


The base is much wider than the top. That’s to give the sediment room to settle down and stay out of the drinker’s way.

The workplace or office-worker’s way to make Turkish coffee is to dump  sugar and a teaspoon of finely ground coffee into a mug and pour boiling water on top. Stir and drink, leaving the sediment at the bottom. In Israel, we informally call it botz – mud. When you ask for a cup of botz, that’s what you get.

A better way, one that gets the most flavor out of the grind, is to cook it up in a finjan.


Here’s an old coffee grinder I couldn’t resist, rummaging in a Safed junk shop. It’s pretty beat up and probably not worth the little I paid for it, but I it spoke to me of old-timey days when any coffee you drank, you ground yourself. I should buy some roasted beans and try grinding them myself in it, sometime. Shouldn’t I?

old coffee grinder

I hadn’t thought about how much coffee paraphernalia I own until I wrote this post. And I just remembered I have an electric coffee grinder too, but I’m not posting the photo this time. I usually grind herbs in it.

This is the way I brew my morning caffeine fix:

Boil 2 cups of water in the finjan. Add a heaping tablespoon of finely ground coffee.

Fresh Turkish coffee

Bring the water and coffee to a boil again and stir madly to create a fine froth. The aroma is captured in the froth, so inhale appreciatively. Gently knock the side of the finjan against a hard surface to help the sediment settle. Unless you’re feeling sedimental.

Pour out, leaving as much of the “mud” behind as possible, and serve immediately. The traditional way is to pour the coffee into little cups that are wide at the lip and slim at the base – again, to keep any residue at the bottom – and drink it black, or at the most, sweetened.


In Arab countries, the cups themselves are called finjan. Here in Israel, the name shifted over to the coffee making pot.

I drink my coffee sweet, with milk. Adding milk makes takes it out of the Turkish coffee range. Because Turkish coffee must be richly black, mysterious, full of subtle associations, head-filling. And here I go taming it with milk, oh well.

It’s only one daily cup, but it’s pretty strong, as it holds about three espresso’s worth of black coffee. With the milk, there’s about 1-1/2 cup in there. I can’t imagine what it does to my metabolism, but I can’t do without it. So I savor every sip as the fragrant steam rises and my early morning brain fog clears. The reliable energy uplift pours into my blood like magic.

It’s the genie in my coffee cup.







4 Responses to The Genie In My Coffee Cup

  1. Batya January 12, 2017 at 10:51 am #

    This “smells” so good, I’m ready to drink more, even though I’ve had my daily quota.

    • Miriam Kresh January 12, 2017 at 10:59 am #

      Yes, it’s hard to resist one more cup when coffee looks so tempting. Occasionally I break down and have one more in the afternoon, especially when I’m eating out, but know it’s best to refrain. How much do you drink? Coffee, that is.

  2. Ruti January 12, 2017 at 5:20 pm #

    “Unless you’re feeling sedimental.” Hah! Love that, and the entire post, especially the tip on the best place to buy coffee and cinnamon sticks and vanilla. Now — you DO know the trick of weaning oneself off of coffee for several days before a major fast, don’t you? If not, you’re welcome. Keeps me from having the caffeine addict’s headache. It also takes all of the joy out of the world for about a week before the fast… but at Tisha b’Av, that’s a good thing.

    • Miriam Kresh January 12, 2017 at 6:46 pm #

      Hi Ruti, and yes, I do stop coffee before a fast – about four days before. I’ve tried stopping two days before and had a huge headache on the day. I hadn’t thought about restricting coffee/restricting joy befor Tisha B’Av…makes sense. BTW I’m so glad someone caught on to the sedimental. I was waiting for that!

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