Coffee In Morocco, what you need to know

by Fay
Published: Last Updated on
coffe-in-Morocco

While Morocco is known worldwide for its exquisite and uniquely relaxing mint tea, coffee is also consumed by locals in Morocco. However, there aren’t many coffee shops around like Starbucks and other brands, and this is because Moroccans don’t generally buy coffee as much as other people do. Coffee in Morocco isn’t a morning-must but rather an occasional mid-day or evening drink. Coffee, unlike tea, has not been cemented in Moroccan culture. Drinking tea is an all-day affair. However, coffee is becoming increasingly popular among the youth and there seems to be a new coffee culture emerging, especially in major cities in Morocco, like Rabat, Casablanca, and Marrakech. If you are a coffee lover who is worried about finding quality brewed coffee in Morocco, then keep reading. 

coffee-in-Morocco-tradition
Credit: Ryan Kilpatrick, Flickr

Cafes in Morocco have historically been considered an exclusively ‘men only’ domain. In the past, it was rare to see women sitting in coffee shops except in big modern cities such as Casablanca and Marrakech. However, things are changing, including Morocco’s traditions. The increasing presence of tourists across Morocco has also adapted some of these age-old customs.

History of coffee in Morocco

coffee-beans-sold-in-Marrakech
Credit: Dylan Thomas, Flickr

Coffee in Morocco is something relatively new, compared to other Arab nations. Therefore, there is no historical tradition of Arabic coffee in Morocco. Coffee arrived in Morocco via Europe in the 18th century and never really caught on. In the 20th century, coffee became somewhat popular in French Cafes. Meanwhile, some homemade coffee blends began to take shape. These include Nous Nous and a traditional home blend that includes exotic spices.

Coffee types in Morocco

A cup of Moroccan coffee isn’t your typical American style coffee that has become the default worldwide. But it will definitely give you a kick. There are a few types of coffee drinks that you need to try.

Nous Nous

coffee in Morocco- Nous Nous
The Moroccan Nous Nous coffee | Credit: Richard Allaway, Flickr

Nous Nous is a unique coffee to Morocco that only locals know about. Cappuccino, Espresso, or other known coffee drinks are not so popular in Morocco. For instance, when you order a Cappuccino in a traditional Moroccan coffee shop they only bring you an improved version of the Nous Nous in a fancier cup which obviously does taste good. The word Nous Nous means (Half Half) in English. The coffee was named Nous Nous because it’s made of half milk, half espresso and served in a small glass cup. Nous Nous is considerably stronger than other coffee served in Morocco. If you visit Morocco be sure to try Nous Nous and let us know what you think about it. 

You can order Nous Nous coffee in Morocco by saying  “bgheet qahwa nous-nous…”. They always bring a glass of water with your coffee but to make sure you do, you can add “w cas diel l’ma” to your sentence. 

Don’t go for Nous Nous made with Instant Coffee (Nescafe)

In some cases, the cafes will replace your real coffee with Nescafe. The reason behind this is that some cafes, usually traditional ones, don’t have coffee machines. Therefore they use instant coffee instead.  

How to make Moroccan coffee Nous Nous at home- Step By Step

Step1: Start by warming a 1/2 full glass of milk.

Step2: Next use the frother wand or an espresso machine to foam the milk (I use the press to foam the milk and it works like a charm) until it comes up over the lip of the glass.

Step3: Prepare an espresso as you normally would. If you don’t have an espresso machine like me, use a normal black coffee or filter coffee.

Step4: In your serving cup, pour the milk first ½ full then fill the other half with coffee. 

Step 5: To sweeten it up, serve with 2 sugar cubes on the side. 

Enjoy your home-made Moroccan Nous Nous

Cafe Noir, Black Coffee 

coffee and tea in Morocco
Moroccan tea and Balck coffee | Credit: Giovanni Prestige, Flickr

The second option you have is the “Cafe Noir” which means ‘Black Coffee’ in French. Cafe Noir in Morocco is your run-of-the-mill single shot espresso. If this is your coffee of choice, doing your homework and finding a well-rated cafe is recommended. There are many ways to mess up an espresso, and I have had a few bad Cafe Noir’s in Morocco. Some people think that any black coffee is a Cafe Noir.

Cafe au lait (Coffee with Milk) / Café crème (Coffee cream) / Café cassé (Broken Coffee) 

Coffee cream in Morocco
Moroccan Coffee with Milk served in a glass cup | Credit: travelwayoflife, Flickr

When it comes to coffee with milk there are many variations that became popular among locals in cafes in Morocco. It depends on under which name it is served. Whether it’s cafe au lait, cafe creme, or cafe casse, they all taste very much the same. Cafe au lait is very much a breakfast drink, milky and refreshing but without the strength of Nous-Nous. During the day, French speakers will order cafe creme, which is less milky but still not a Nous-Nous.

Moroccan Spiced coffee (Qahwa Ma’atra)

I’ve never been an exotic coffee fan but when it comes to the Moroccan spicy coffee, I really love it. Moroccan spiced coffee is another variation of the Arabic coffee with a less strong taste. Moroccan traditional coffee isn’t served in coffee shops but rather made at home. To try it you should probably snap an invitation to a Moroccan house and ask for Moroccan spiced coffee. 

The spiced coffee in Morocco can be bought ready from local grocery shops and you can make it at home as well. It is made of freshly ground coffee and spices. Moroccans use a bunch of different spices according to their taste, usually black pepper, ginger,cinnamon, zaater, and aniseed.

How to make spiced coffee at home

If you are not lucky enough to visit Morocco and try their spiced coffee, you can at least make it at home. The spice added to the coffee is what makes it unique. So, if you have all the spices mentioned above that’s good. Otherwise, pepper, ginger powder, za’atar powder, and cinnamon are good enough. 

  1. Grind the coffee, if it is not already ground, until you get a very fine powder-like ground. You can use the grinder at the grocery store or your home grinder if it’s powerful enough. 
  1. Now, you have to grind the spices one by one. Make sure to get a fine powder as well. Fresh ground spices are always recommended, but if you can buy them ready, it’s totally fine. You only need ½ to 1 coffee spoon of each spice for 500g of ground coffee.
  1. The next step and final one is to mix all together (the coffee and the spices) in a storage jar and, yeah, that’s all. Your coffee is ready to use. 

To prepare the coffee. Add 2 full tablespoons in a coffee pot, add sugar, water and let it brew for about 40 minutes. Then, serve and enjoy your spiced coffee.  

Where to drink the best coffee in Morocco

coffeeshops in Morocco
Traditional cafe in Morocco | Credit: Alper Çuğun, Flickr

Casablanca

If you are the type of person that needs good coffee on demand without any surprises, then you would be pleased to know that there are Starbucks and Segafredo cafes scattered across the city. If you are looking for a specialty coffee brand then look no further than %Arabica. It’s a cool cafe with high-quality coffee.

Marrakech

There are times when you are hungry and, at the same time, hungry for coffee. If this ever happens to you in Marrakech, then Shtatto is your place. The location of this rooftop cafe is perfect with beautiful views of the city. The coffee is on point and the food is great too. Another cafe that also sells good food and coffee without a fuss is News Cafe. If you are really craving fancy coffee you should head straight to L’Adresse.

Rabat

If you don’t mind the quirky decor, F Cafe makes really good coffee and crepes too. They offer a good blend of traditional and contemporary coffees and they have a great atmosphere. If you have a sweet tooth then you really want to go to Paul. I’ve never quite felt comfortable at Paul, it’s just too boring for me. I do appreciate their delectable cakes though. And I guess that’s it, it’s Rabat after all.

Take-away coffee in Morocco

takeaway coffee in Morocco
Takeaway coffee | Credit: Mussi Katz, Flickr

If you visit Morocco you will soon discover that “To-go” coffee is not as customary as elsewhere. You will never see people walking with their coffee cups nor cafes that serve takeaway coffee. Coffee shop culture in Morocco is more like a “sit and chat” way of enjoying the day while sipping their small cup of coffee. You will often see people casually chatting, watching football, or people-watching which is an important part of the coffee shop experience. This amazingly vibrant atmosphere can be witnessed in almost every coffee shop across the country during the day.

Conclusion

Morocco is a long way from Seattle and not the best place in the world to drink coffee. However, it is still home to 2 weirdly unique coffee drinks that look sound and taste amazing. These are the unique Moroccan Coffees, Nous Nous and Qahwa Ma’atra (spiced coffee). In addition, there are some really new and cool coffee spots opening up all over the country. These new spaces are part of the growing demand for coffee in Morocco, influencd largely by the younger generation. We predict that in the future, Moroccans will only come up with more wacky and special coffee variants.

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