Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to Israel

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Welcome to our guide on coffee culture in Israel, designed especially for expats living in this beautiful country with such a rich and diverse history. Coffee culture is an integral part of Israeli society, and whether you're looking to try international favorites, to explore local farm-to-table options, to immerse yourself in traditional Israeli coffee custom, or to find your favorite coffee shop with a mix of expat and local clientele, we'll help you do it.

Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

To understand the coffee culture in Israel, it's important to understand where coffee comes from. While much of Israeli coffee is imported, local coffee growers produce high-quality beans of their own. Most coffee plantations are found in the northern part of Israel, particularly in the Galilee region. Here, the ideal climate, rich soil, and excellent humidity make it an ideal place for coffee cultivation.

If you have the chance to visit coffee plantations, we strongly recommend it. You'll get a chance to see the coffee cherries in bloom and learn about the process of growing and harvesting the beans. Some popular coffee plantations that expats might find interesting include Bar David, located near the southern coast of Haifa, and the Jeanie Chami Coffee Plantation, located in Bracha near Karmiel.

Embracing Favorite Coffee Style Drinks

Israelis have developed their own unique coffee culture, with a range of flavors and styles that are worth checking out. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Turkish Coffee: When most people think of the Middle East, they think of Turkish coffee. This rich, full-bodied coffee is prepared in a special pot, called an ibrik, and served with a pouch of sugared paste on the side. It's typically drunk in the afternoon, after work. Expect it to be strong, with a thick foam on the top.
  • Cappuccino: Like the rest of Europe and the world, Israelis are mad for cappuccinos. If you're not a big fan of a traditional cappuccino, the Israeli Coffee House has perfected "coffee-loaf," which is a modified cappuccino with added cream. It's an indulgent but delicious drink worth trying.
  • Iced Coffee: If you're visiting Israel during the summer months, iced coffee is a must-try. Don't be too surprised if it's sweeter than what you're used to! This is often because of the prevalent use of sugar syrup.
  • Mocha: This sweet, chocolate-infused coffee is a popular choice for many expats. Try it with added whipped cream for an indulgent treat.
  • Espresso: While you may be able to find traditional espresso in Israeli coffee shops, the Israeli twist is to combine it with some mouth-watering pastries.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

Understanding the coffee drinking customs is an important part of coffee culture in Israel. Here's a breakdown:

  • Street Coffee: One of the most unique aspects of coffee culture in Israel is the ubiquitous coffee stands you'll see on the streets in many cities. These are normally small kiosks where they sell Turkish coffee and other coffee drinks. They're often run by yemenite Jews, and include classic flavors like cardamom and mint.
  • Coffee Shops: Israel does have plenty of regular coffee shops. The most famous are Cafe Joe, which started out as a pop-up coffee shop serving Israeli-style coffee and has since grown into a global chain. For more localized options, Timna and Old Men's Coffee are popular among the locals.
  • Etiquette: Israeli coffee culture includes specific etiquette when drinking coffee. For example, it's customary to drink Turkish coffee standing up at coffee stands. Many successful business deals are made over coffee, so it's worth learning the customs to impress your colleagues!

Additional Tips for Expat Foodies

If you're looking for some recommendations for expat-friendly coffee shops and cafes, here's a few we suggest:

  • Cafe Jerusalem: Located in Kfar Sabba, North of Tel Aviv, serves fresh farm-to-table coffee, delicious pastries made in house, a children's play area, and some Mandarin and Hebrew classes to help newcomers learn the language.
  • Gloria Jeans Coffee: The globally recognized brand is found in almost every mall and popular square in many cities. Their coffee is often roasted locally, and their range of products is equally enchanting, with flavors for everyone, including vegan options.
  • Mandelblatt Haifa Marekaz: This beloved cafe in Haifa's German Colony is perfect for those looking for a more Israeli coffee experience. Try their signature honey cake and almond cake for an authentic Israeli taste.
  • Victoria Cafe: As an Israel-wide chain, Victoria is as much of a cultural institution as it is a coffee shop. Many of their stores have outdoor seating and a laid-back atmosphere that's perfect for relaxing and people-watching. Try their classic Nusach Hacharedi blend, for an authentic Israeli experience.

Conclusion

We hope that you've found this guide enlightening and helpful. Exploring the rich tapestry of Israel's coffee culture is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in Israeli society further, and we hope that you'll continue your journey of discovery by trying out some of the coffee experiences we've suggested.

No matter your preference, you'll find something unique and special here. Whether you prefer farm-to-table, street coffee, coffee shops, or coffee drinking customs, Israel has something to offer for everyone. Cheers!