The Coffee Houses of Cairo I may have left behind a city — Paris — reputed the world over for its café culture, but the street cafés of Cairo certainly had their charm. These are not the places to sip a frothy coffee in chic surroundings; rather sitting on a street-corner with a shisha and a strong, sweet Arabic coffee, the clack-clack of dominoes striking the table, or backgammon pieces shuffling around a board as a dice rolls over the wooden set. A morning in Cairo would start in one of these establishments, breakfasting on a fresh faroula juice washed down with a short, strong coffee. The day would end drinking shay bil-nana or indulging in a thick, sweet sahleb, playing tawila and puffing on shisha. In between, numerous stops are made for mowz bil-haleeb and gwafa juices. * The real allure of these places, though, is the people with whom you share your table, and I was very lucky in who I met. From the games of backgammon in the little back-street café of Mohandiseen surrounded by locals, to the international crowd near Townhouse, to the thriving energy of Bustan, reputed as the local haunt of the intelligentsia, I enjoyed many an evening in good company. Drunk on translation * Strawberry juice, tea with mint, a milk & cornflour mix seasoned with nuts, backgammon, banana milkshake, and guava, respectively.

The Coffee Houses of Cairo

I may have left behind a city — Paris — reputed the world over for its café culture, but the street cafés of Cairo certainly had their charm.

These are not the places to sip a frothy coffee in chic surroundings; rather sitting on a street-corner with a shisha and a strong, sweet Arabic coffee, the clack-clack of dominoes striking the table, or backgammon pieces shuffling around a board as a dice rolls over the wooden set.

A morning in Cairo would start in one of these establishments, breakfasting on a fresh faroula juice washed down with a short, strong coffee. The day would end drinking shay bil-nana or indulging in a thick, sweet sahleb, playing tawila and puffing on shisha. In between, numerous stops are made for mowz bil-haleeb and gwafa juices. *

The real allure of these places, though, is the people with whom you share your table, and I was very lucky in who I met. From the games of backgammon in the little back-street café of Mohandiseen surrounded by locals, to the international crowd near Townhouse, to the thriving energy of Bustan, reputed as the local haunt of the intelligentsia, I enjoyed many an evening in good company.

Drunk on translation

* Strawberry juice, tea with mint, a milk & cornflour mix seasoned with nuts, backgammon, banana milkshake, and guava, respectively.