Welcome to Tunisia, the North African nation, where everyone seems to be enjoying their coffees! The country that greets its visitors with delicious Couscous, olive oil, Harissa, wide array of historical attractions, good weather, and its diverse landscapes.
Apart from being a culinary hotspot and beach destination, Tunisia is also densely populated with coffee shops. When I ask Tunisians how they like their coffee, I almost always get the same reply: dark and strong.
If that is not your cup of coffee, then you may want to go to the specialty coffee shops I am introducing in this article! Although they also tend to have at least one option adapted to the general taste preferences, they offer fruity alternatives that spin the wheel of flavors.
Coffee Culture in Tunisia
Coffee is an integral part of Tunisian culture. Since Tunisians consume coffee in a variety of ways and social contexts throughout the day, you could say that coffee has acquired its own culture.
Regardless of the season, whether is summer or winter, hot or cold, one thing that most people in Tunisia reach for: A cup of coffee.
You’re never more than a couple of hours away from your next shot of Coffee in Tunisia, and cafes are practically everywhere. These are the epicenter of cultural, political, economic, and social activity, not your typical Starbucks.
Even when there is no more news or gossip and the last cup of coffee has been consumed, these coffee shops revert to their natural and most fundamental appeal: a pleasant spot to relax and watch the world pass by.
There is always a cafe with an espresso machine and a cheap shot available, whether you are people-watching in the blue-and-white cliffside town of Sidi Bou Said, the neighbourhood of Tunisia’s wealthy and powerful, in an agricultural village, or in the southern deserts.
If cafes in other countries are frequently associated with young people smoking Shisha (Hookah) to the sound of loud music, the Tunisian café is for all people, of all ages, at nearly all times of day.
Young and elderly, singles and families, bankers, hipsters, butchers, and Sufi sheikhs can all be observed ordering espresso or capucin, a macchiato-like shot of espresso with milk.
The Political History
The beverage was first introduced to Tunisia in the 16th century by the Ottomans, who ruled the nation at the time and used it as a strategic marine outpost.
Before the French occupation, there were 150 cafes in Tunisia offering tea and Turkish coffee from brass kettles in the 19th century.
The espresso, which was introduced after the arrival of the French in the late 19th century, is the coffee of choice today. Additionally, the cafe ritual connects the spiritual to the political.
Those who perform the fijr sunrise prayer frequently exit the mosque and travel a few yards to a neighboring cafe to chat with friends and neighbors and listen to the radio.
This legacy contributed to the emergence of political activism in the 20th century, serving as the springboard for Tunisia’s nationalist movement that toppled the French occupation.
During the Eid al-Adha festival, which is a family event in many Muslim communities, Tunisians pray at Zaitouna Mosque in the morning and, in what appears to be a procession, head to the nearest cafe to exchange holiday pleasantries over a festive beverage.
“In this life, we drink coffee,” explains Samir, a father of two, after Friday prayers in the ancient city of Tunis. The afterlife depends on God.
Coffeeshops & Coffee Chains in Tunisia
Here are a few known and recommended coffeeshops and coffee chains in Tunisia that you may want to visit.
Café Victor Hugo
Eric Kayser Coffee
Little Sarrajine Coffee
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