Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to Bahrain

Image for Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to Bahrain

Welcome expatriates to the rich tapestry of coffee culture in Bahrain, offering insights and tips for navigating the local coffee scene. Bahrain is not traditionally known as a coffee-growing region, but the country has a rich coffee culture that welcomes and adapts to new and incoming communities. If you're an expat looking to immerse yourself in Bahrain's coffee traditions and customs, you're in the right place.

Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

Bahrain does not have many coffee plantations, but occasionally imported coffee beans are found in local markets. Coffee is primarily imported to Bahrain from neighboring countries such as Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. Bahrain's location in the Middle East makes it a hub for expats from many different countries, which also reflects in the types of coffee that are popular among expats. Here's an overview:

  • Yemeni Coffee: This is the most popular type of coffee in Bahrain, and many coffee enthusiasts in Bahrain prefer it over other imported varieties. Yemeni coffee is known for its strong aroma, rich flavor, and unique preparation process that involves roasting, grinding, and boiling techniques.
  • Omani Coffee: Omani coffee is lighter and more mild in flavor than Yemeni coffee. It's brewed using traditional methods that include roasting, cracking, and grinding the beans. Omani coffee typically has a slightly smoky flavor and aroma.
  • Saudi Arabian Coffee: This type of coffee is a blend of Yemeni and Omani coffee varieties, characterized by a thick body, strong aroma, and rich flavor. Saudi Arabian coffee is often brewed using a traditional Yemeni coffee pot called a jebana.

EXPAT RECOMMENDATION: Try out a traditional coffee shop in Bahrain, such as Al Shahama, and ask the staff about the different coffee varieties they offer. You may also want to explore local markets, such as Sinbad Street, to learn more about coffee in Bahrain and where to buy high-quality beans.

Embracing Favorite Coffee Style Drinks

Once you've familiarized yourself with the origins of coffee in Bahrain, it's time to embrace the different coffee styles that locals and expats alike enjoy. Here are some of the most popular coffee styles in Bahrain:

  • Black Coffee: This is the most basic coffee style, typically offered in restaurant and cafes in Bahrain. Black coffee is served hot, with a slightly sweet tinge on the tongue.
  • White Coffee: White coffee is a traditional Bahraini coffee, prepared using cardamom and cloves. The cardamom adds a distinct aroma and flavor to the coffee, making it an excellent choice for expats looking to try something new.
  • Turkish Coffee: Turkish coffee is popular among expats from Turkey and the Middle East, characterized by its thick, rich body and intense aroma. Turkish coffee is often served with dates or other traditional Middle Eastern sweets.
  • Latin-style Coffee: Latin-style coffee is becoming increasingly popular among expats in Bahrain, with many coffee shops now offering cappuccinos, lattes, and espressos. These coffee styles are typically made using imported beans and modern brewing methods.
  • Iced Coffee: Iced coffee is a popular choice among expats during the hot summer months, with many coffee shops in Bahrain offering iced coffee varieties.
  • Espresso Coffee: Espresso coffee is more popular among expats from Europe, as it's not traditionally served in Bahraini coffee shops. However, many coffee shops in Bahrain now offer espresso coffee varieties, served either hot or cold.

EXPAT RECOMMENDATION: Explore local coffee shops and cafes, and try different types of coffee to discover your personal favorite. Some popular coffee shops in Bahrain for expats include Seattle's Best Coffee, Starbucks, and Costa Coffee.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

Coffee is a fundamental part of daily life and social interactions in Bahrain, with its unique customs and traditions that distinguish it from other forms of coffee culture around the world. If you're an expat, it's essential to embrace these customs and traditions, which include:

  • Coffee Gathering: Coffee is often served and consumed during social gatherings and parties, with family or friends as the guests of honor. The coffee pot is known as a takiiyah, with each cup served sparkling and foamy.
  • Coffee Etiquette: Coffee is served in small, delicate cups, with a little cream and sugar added for flavor. It's crucial to drink the coffee in three sips and admire the aroma, traditionally known as "tasting the coffee." It's also considered polite to receive a new cup every time the coffee pot is refilled.
  • Coffee Sharing: Coffee is generally served in small, dainty cups, and is typically shared among friends and family. If you're invited to join in, it's considered polite to accept the offer and share in the joy of coffee-drinking together.

EXPAT RECOMMENDATION: Learn to appreciate the slower pace of coffee drinking in Bahrain, which is performed within social contexts. Join a coffee circle or coffee society and participate in traditional Middle Eastern coffee ceremonies. Even if you're new to these rituals, the warmth and hospitality of the local community will surely make you feel at home.


Embracing coffee culture in Bahrain is an invitation to immerse yourself in the local community, meet new friends, and enjoy the flavors and traditions of the Middle East. This guide has just scratched the surface, but we hope that it's enough to wet your appetite for Bahrain's coffee scene! If you're new to Bahrain, take time to explore, learn, and enjoy. If you're a long-term resident, we encourage you to share your experiences and insights in the comment box below, which will further enrich our coffee-loving community.