A delicious milky coffee, cafe hafuch has layers of hot milk and espresso topped with foam. Beautiful to look at and fantastic to drink! An Israeli morning treat.
Visiting Israel as a child, I remember only two kinds of coffee – botz (Turkish coffee) or a local brand of instant coffee called Elite. The former is a very strong, dark brew. It’s made by repeatedly boiling sweetened coffee grounds before pouring out into small cups and leaving to settle. The sludgy grounds at the bottom of the cup gave the drink its name – botz means ‘mud’ in Hebrew.
Ready in an instant!
Elite instant coffee was introduced in the 1950s and quickly gained popularity as it was seen as exotic and sophisticated! It was also readily available and much easier to prepare than Turkish coffee. The Elite company really had the Israeli coffee market sewn up though. They manufactured (and continue to manufacture) both the instant brew and the dark ground coffee used in the preparation of botz.
Coffee shops have been around for decades in Israel. They were always great places to get amazing cakes, freshly made salads and delicious pastries, but the drinks weren’t usually the main attractions. My friend Caren asserts that when she first moved to Israel from America, ordering a ‘cappuccino’ would get you a cup of instant coffee with whipped cream on top!
Traditional Israeli coffee shops were places to sit for hours, reading, playing board games (often backgammon) or discussing politics. However, in recent years Israel’s cafe culture has changed, both in terms of menu, and also atmosphere. The great food, heated discussions and comfortable seating remain, but Israelis have also developed a taste for new kinds of espresso-based coffee drinks, including the home-grown cafe hafuch.
Coffee shops – chains and Independents
Indie coffee is big in Israel! While the country boasts several great, indigenous coffee chains, plus thousands of fantastic independent cafes, Starbucks never got off the ground. The ubiquitous chain had six locations in Tel Aviv between 2001-2003, but apparently couldn’t make them profitable. They may not know much about coffee, but those Israelis certainly know what they like!
Cafe hafuch – upside down coffee
Cafe hafuch translates literally as ‘upside down coffee’. I must admit that for a while I wondered what was upside down about it! It turns out that it’s all in the way it’s made. This cup of milky coffee differs from other similar drinks in that the hot milk goes into the cup first, and the espresso is added second. In most others – lattes and cappuccinos for instance – the coffee goes in first and the milk is added second.
Ideally, the coffee is floated onto the surface of the hot milk, to create a layered effect in the cup. Cafe hafuch is then usually topped with foamed milk, to enhance the presentation.
Make it vegan!
Did you know that Israel has more vegans per capita than anywhere else in the world?
It’s easy to make a vegan cafe hafuch – simply substitute your choice of plant-based milk for regular milk, and carry on with the recipe. I like oat milk but soya and almond are both great too.
How to make cafe hafuch
To make an authentic Israeli cafe hafuch, you only need two ingredients! They are:
- espresso coffee
- steamed milk
First, pour the steamed milk into a mug, leaving space for the coffee. Then, gently pour the hot espresso down the inside of the mug, so that it floats on top of the hot milk. You can then add a layer of milk foam on top so that you get three pretty stripes!
Stir, sip and enjoy! Cafe hafuch is a great way to start your morning.
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Cafe Hafuch - Israeli upside down coffee
- 1 shot freshly-made hot espresso coffee
- 250 ml milk
- Steam the milk to heat it, without making too much foam - this can be achieved by inserting the steam wand to the bottom of the jug when steaming.
- Using a spoon to hold back the foam, pour the hot milk into a mug or cup.
- Carefully pour the espresso down the inside of the cup, so that it floats in a layer on top of the milk. (It will probably mix a little bit.)
- Carefully spoon milk foam onto the top of the coffee, and serve!
More delicious drinks recipes
If you want a coffee with a bit more oomph, how about a Smirnoff espresso martini from Supper in the Suburbs?
For more Israel-inspired drinks, take a look at this recipe for limonana – Israeli mint lemonade, or this one for sweet and creamy sahlab. If you’re after something milky and delicious, try this spiced hot chocolate flavoured with hawaij l’cafe.