Distilling coffee’s aromatic history
the Second World War, every German soldier carried an essential piece
of equipment along with his weapon. Small, sturdy and built to survive
almost anything, it was a coffee grinder.
The steel box had a
handle on the top and a container at the bottom to catch the coffee
grounds. It could be easily disassembled and packed away.
strong indeed was the European love of coffee that even a scarcity of
metal after the war ended did not stop the production of coffee grinders
and roasters. Instead, munitions were melted down to manufacture them.
importance of coffee to different cultures and countries through the
centuries is the theme of Dubai’s new Coffee Museum, which will allow
visitors to view the rituals of serving the popular beverage and to
Stepping into villa No 44, a traditional Emirati home in
Bur Dubai’s Al Fahidi historical district, the visitor is immediately
struck by the familiar aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Even though the
museum’s signage has yet to be put up and its official opening is at the
end of October, the museum is already swarming with coffee lovers.
will love coffee even more after visiting the museum and understanding
its history and cultural relevance to us and the other cultures,” says
Khalid Al Mulla, the museum’s 43-year-old founder and the director of
Easternmen & Co, a coffee company.
His love of coffee begun in
childhood, as it did for many Emiratis and Arabs who grew up watching
their parents drink coffee and serve it to guests in a show of
hospitality and friendship.
Mr Al Mulla later joined the coffee
industry, importing to the UAE varieties from more than 16 countries
including Indonesia, Brazil, Sri Lanka and Yemen.
He also became the local representative for several coffee brands and coffee-machine makers, including some from Japan.
he still wanted to add another dimension to his enjoyment of coffee, so
he decided to create a historical archive of his passion.
“Coffee drinking should be an entire experience, where all the senses are involved,” Mr Al Mulla says with pride as he takes The National on a tour of the museum, which comes alive with different aromas and sounds.
how coffee beans are roasted and brewed – from using traditional
methods to the latest gadgets – and tasting the essence of different
coffee beans are all part of the experience.
In the two-storey
museum, which has six rooms on each floor, each part of the exhibition
tells a different story about coffee and how it relates to its fans.
Three of the rooms display antiques from the Middle East and around the
From Britain, there is a man-sized coffee grinder with an
actual carriage-like wheel for a handle that carries the 18th-century
crest of a British monarch. From the Ottoman Empire, there are several
grinders and hand-held portable roasters that are about 600 years old.
is said that the first coffee house in Europe was opened in Vienna,
using equipment taken from Ottoman troops defeated outside the city’s
walls in the 17th century.
Other rooms in the museum display screens, filters, and grinders known as madaq, which are hundreds of years old.
grinders, which are covered in Quranic verses and weigh more than 12
kilograms, are too heavy to carry. There are also grinders for women,
with added support for the leg, allowing the grinder to lean in for
support as the beans were being ground up.
In Ethiopia, the
coffee pot is known as the jabena. It lacks the distinctive spout of the
Emirati dallah. It was Yemenis who introduced the spout, calling the
pot a jamena.