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Middle East shift to modern times

From the June 2014 issue.

One of the oldest coffee cultures in the world is experiencing a revival, and increasing consumption as a result.

On the outskirts of Dubai, in the shade of a big tent stuffed with oriental rugs and traditional embroidered red pillows, an 80-year-old Bedouin, Ali Abdullah Alshikki, recalls a life filled with coffee traditions that date back more than 800 years.

Slowly brewing a pot of coffee, Alshikki goes through each step with careful diligence. From cutting the wood, preparing the fire, filling the old pot with water and putting it to boil, only then, when the fire is right, does he starts to prepare the coffee itself. In an elaborate ceremony that takes the better part of an hour, he slowly grinds the coffee and mixes it with cardamom before finally putting the pot to boil.

Taking in the late afternoon sun on a stretch of red desert sand along the coast of the Persian Gulf, coffee drinking doesn’t get more magical than this.

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