Arab-American Coffee Pot

The brewing of very strong coffee steamed from freshly pulverized beans is a universal form of hospitality among Arab-speaking peoples in the Middle East and neighboring Mediterranean as well as among those from that region who settled in the United States. Indeed, the first coffee available in Europe in the 18th century originated from Turkey. Two of the most treasured objects carried by migrants—whether Bedouins traversing desserts of the Middle East or Lebanese immigrants arriving in the United States on word of money made by Syrian traders at worlds fairs held in Philadelphia in 1876 and Chicago in 1893—were the coffee grinder and the coffee maker.
Neighborhood coffee houses and national chains have been offering an increasing variety of flavorful strong-brewed espresso drinks since the 1990s, so it may be forgotten that there was a time when coffee offered by grocers, restaurants, and at home was weak, watery, and overcooked. Those planning to immigrate to the United States one hundred years ago were likely forewarned to bring their own coffee-making implements and beans as they planned their trips. This long-stemmed pot was carried by Nellie Bourazak’s mother from Zahle, a large Christian market town in Mount Lebanon, Syria, to Peoria, Illinois some time in the 1890s. It was handcrafted by a local silversmith, possibly as a parting gift from friends. Held over an open fire, it brewed one cup at a time to meet individual tastes as requested by guests. Served at the beginning and the end of meals, the ground coffee was combined with ground cardamom, brought to high boil, then simmered at low heat for a few minutes. The aroma shared over lively leisuretime conversation was a welcome part of the preparation ritual.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Physical Description
brass (part material)
silver (part material)
wood (handle material)
overall: 18 cm x 26 cm x 12 cm; 7 1/16 in x 10 1/4 in x 4 3/4 in
Place Made
Al-Lubnān: Al-Biqā`, Zahlah
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Cultures & Communities
Family & Social Life
Food Culture
Artifact Walls exhibit
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ethnic
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Faris and Yamna Family Arab-American Collection

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