White Coffee



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It's funny when, as an expatriate, you forget some of the most simple habits of your country of origin, and feel like you're having your very own Proustian moment when you rekindle with one of those habits. Something like this happened to me a little while, and I really felt I was travelling back in time to the days when I used to live in Lebanon.

I was chatting on the phone the other day with my father, after a particularly exhausting day at the end of which I really needed some comforting. The wonderful thing about my father is that he has this amazing power to calm me down no matter how anxious, dressed or furious I'm feeling. 

It was around midnight here in DC when we talked, which means it was 7 in the morning in Lebanon. He had just woken up, and I was trying to defeat my very long-lasting insomnia. At one point during my father told me he had just made himself a "white coffee". 

Now, the particularly Lebanese drink called white coffee (or café blanc in French) is not a caffeinated drink; in fact it isn't even caffeinated. I remember the first time hearing this term: it was during a dinner party my grandmother had thrown. Everyone had moved to the salon after dinner, and I was eager to help, so she told me to ask her guests who wanted black coffee, and who wanted white coffee. If by black coffee she meant the very strong, espresso-like coffee that is made with very finely ground coffee beans (they're a powder, truly), white coffee was a more calming, caffeine free option. And that night, many guests requested it. 

I learned that night that white coffee is one of the most simplest things to create, and it truly is a delight at night, before bed, as it brings down stress, anxiety and hyper-activity. 

Yet it only requires two very simple ingredients. The first is hot water, and the second is orange blossom water

And in order to create white coffee, you simply need to boil the same amount of water that you would use for a cup of tea, and then add a very generous splash of orange blossom water. The amount (usually a quarter or a third of orange blossom, to a cup of boiled water, although you can drink it lukewarm), depends on how much you want your drink to be flavourful (or on how tense you are). Sugar or other sweeteners are optional, although I do like to add a little bit of stevia-based low-calorie sweetener. 

And there you have it! White coffee, a delicious, calming drink to enjoy before bed or after a heavy meal.

Have you ever tried warm orange blossom water? What do you typically drink when you need to calm down or relax? Tell me in the comments below!

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