One of the oldest methods of making coffee hails from Arabia, and the making of Arabian coffee—the Gabena method—is a ritual. The coffee shrub was introduced from Abyssinia at an early date, and there is a quaint legend about the discovery of coffee and its stimulating and beneficial effects. A shepherd of the Yemen noticed that his flock of sheep, having browsed on the shrubs, became highly elated and sleepless. On testing it himself, he was so delighted with the result that he hastened to impart his discovery to others—and hence the origin of coffee drinking!
In the Arab method, the coffee beans are roasted in an open iron ladle until they are almost burnt, and then pounded in a mortar to a coarse powder. Moka is the coffee always used by the Arabs. A large copper jug is filled with cold water, put on the fire, and when the water is boiling it is poured into a clay pot called a “gabena,” over the coffee, the pot being only half filled. This pot has an opening at the top, in which the water is poured, and a long curved spout, in the middle of which is a filter made of palm bark fibre. The mixture is stirred and simmered, the time varying according to individual taste. Saffron or other aromatic flavourings are added. The mixture is then filtered through the palm bark fibre into a silver vessel contained in a rush basket which is made to fit and enclose it. And as the coffee is being poured out, Allah is invoked. The ceremonial is very elaborate.