In Beirut, a cosmopolitan, westernised city, coffee is served in every possible way: from Arab-Bedouin decoctions to Turkish infusions, spiced coffee and American coffee, espresso and white coffee (which doesn’t contain coffee and is for anyone intolerant to caffeine). Far from the cities, the traditions of individual communities survive, like the bizarre coffee obtained by roasting acorns or the South American mate infusion, imported by the emigrants on their return from Brazil. While historical cafés don’t exist anymore in Beirut, rebuilt several times after the conflicts (except for the Gemmayzeh Café, where artists, intellectuals and older backgammon players used to gather), in Tripoli some examples of popular old-style cafés still survive, where Turkish coffee is drunk in clouds of hookah smoke. Street coffee vendors offer passers-by Turkish coffee prepared in colourful portable kitchens, or western-style coffee extracted from espresso machines mounted on tricycles and carts or coffee in the strict Arab tradition, poured from large metal jugs with built-in heaters at their base.
Boil the water in a jug, add sugar or honey while hot and stir to dissolve. Separately, pour the orange blossom water into espresso cups and fill them to the brim with the sweetened water. Serve the hot drink at the end of a meal or before bedtime for a soothing effect.
Heat the milk in a pot. Separately, dissolve the rice flour in a little cold milk, then pour into the kettle; whisk carefully and continue cooking until the mixture starts to thicken and set. At this point, add the sugar and stir well until completely dissolved. When the mixture begins to thicken, add the orange blossom water and give it a last stir just before pouring it into the flan moulds. Complete with a sprinkling of chopped pistachios and serve chilled as a dessert.