Coffee in Tunisia has become an important part of the culture, like in many other parts of the world. You could even say coffee has taken on a culture of its own since Tunisians drink it in a variety of ways and social contexts throughout their day. As you prepare for your travels to Tunisia, read on to find out what coffee culture is like in Tunisia, and what you’ll need to know to order a coffee the way you like it.
Coffee in Tunisia: The Daily Rhythm
Coffee is a part of many Tunisians’ daily rhythm. They might start the day with a cup of coffee mixed with hot milk during breakfast with their family. Later in the morning, they might have an espresso based coffee with friends or colleagues at a café. In the late afternoon or evening, family members might enjoy a qahwa arbi (Turkish-style coffee) after getting home from work or after their evening meal. Needless to say, there are plenty of opportunities for Tunisians to enjoy their coffee!
Coffee in Tunisia: 3 Ways + 1
If coffee is a part of your daily rhythm, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of opportunities to get your coffee fix while you’re touring Tunisia.
Cafés in Tunisia serve mainly espresso based coffees. It’s here that you’ll want to know how to order a coffee, since you’ll pass dozens of sidewalk cafés and roadside rest stops during your travels in Tunisia.
The 3 espresso-based drinks that every café serves are:
- Express (pronounced like it looks in English): One shot of espresso. If you want it diluted, you can order an alongé (alon-jay).
- Capucin (cap-oo-sung): An espresso with a small amount of foamed milk. The espresso flavor is more pronounced than the milk. It’s similar to a cappucino (but smaller than a European-style cappucino).
- Direct (dee-rect): This is similar to a café latte. It has more milk than a capucin, so the milk flavor is more pronounced.
Many cafés also serve qahwa arbi. It’s worth trying this traditional style coffee at least once during your Tunisia tour. This Turkish-style coffee is made by boiling very finely ground coffee with sugar in a pot called a zizwa. It’s poured into a demitasse (grounds and all), and you can choose to add a few drops of rose water. You drink the delicious sweet coffee, and stop when it starts to feel slightly gritty!
Cafés With Character in Tunisia
The vast majority of cafés in Tunisia are independently owned and operated. Each has its own character and feel to it. Often the baristas have been working there for years and view their job as a craft. There are very simple neighborhood cafés where you can get a coffee for a dinar or so (about $0.40 USD). There are also cafés with a Western feel to them where it’ll cost between 3-4 dinars (about $1.25 USD).
While most any café will do the trick, here are a few specific ideas:
- Sidi Bou Hdid in the Hammamet medina: This café right next to the sea is the perfect place to slow down and enjoy the sunshine and the blue waters of the Mediterranean.
- Café Ben Yedder in downtown Tunis: On your way to touring the Tunis medina or the Marché Centrale (Central Market), stop for a coffee and fresh croissant at this signature café of Ben Yedder, one of Tunisia’s largest roasters.
- Café Abou Nawas in Chenini: This simple café sits at the hilltop of Chenini, an ancient Berber village in southern Tunisia.
- Dar Ayad near Tamazret in southern Tunisia: This café has great views of the picturesque hills of Matmata. It’s part of a rest stop that’s clean and well-run.
- Cafés near Bab il Gharbi in the Sousse medina: There are several cafés that are great places to hang out in the morning and observe life as people start their day in the Sousse medina.
Coffee Culture in Tunisia: A Chance to Engage
Enjoying a coffee at a café is one of those easy and inexpensive ways you can observe and experience the culture during your visit to Tunisia. So however you like your coffee, may it be a simple enjoyment that enhances your travels in Tunisia!