Cafe hafuch – Israeli ‘upside down’ coffee

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.

Cafe hafuch.

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.

Cafe hafuch.

Cafe culture?

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.

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.

Cafe hafuch.

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. They 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!

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.

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Cafe Hafuch - Israeli upside down coffee

Course Breakfast, Drinks
Cuisine Israeli
Keyword coffee
Servings 1
Calories 127kcal
Author Helen


  • 1 shot freshly-made hot espresso coffee
  • 250 ml milk (1 cup)


  • 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!


129 calories, 5g fat, 9g protein, 12g carbs

If you want a coffee with a bit more oomph, how about a Smirnoff espresso martini from Supper in the Suburbs? If you’d like to try more Israel-inspired drinks, try this recipe for limonana – Israeli mint lemonade, or this one for sweet and creamy sahlab.

And if you want something to dunk in your cafe hafuch, try a hawaij spiced coffee cookie. Or maybe one of these delicious double chocolate muesli cookies.

Cafe hafuch.



  1. For a non dairy version, would you recommend almond milk or coconut milk?

    • Hi Dafna. I think any ‘milk’ than can be foamed should be fine. I usually use oat milk because I prefer the taste, but if you particularly like almond or coconut, and they can be foamed up, then use whichever you prefer. Thanks! Helen x.

  2. Sounds like a perfect Inheritance Recipe 🙂

  3. How fascinating, had always imagined Israel would have a great coffee culture because of their immense love of good food. Sounds as though they are making up for lost time now though, this layered coffee sounds great!

    • Thanks Kavey. To be honest, I think the good food is fairly recent too! For instance, when I lived there 20 years ago (argh, 20 years ago!) there were only 2 kinds of cheese – white cheese and yellow cheese! Things have improved immensely though, and it’s such a terrific cultural melting pot that inevitably some great fusion cooking emerges. Tel Aviv is a real foodie destination now, but I’m not sure that all of the ‘ordinary’ cities have necessarily caught up yet!

  4. I love my coffee served like this… loved reading your post!

  5. Love the look of this! How clever they get the coffee to float on the milk! Very impressed with the layered effect 🙂 I wonder if this is even harder to achieve than latte art? Great post and thanks for linking to my espresso martini!

    • Not difficult at all! I made the one in the photo after all. You just need to pour it onto the milk slowly and carefully and bob’s your uncle 🙂

  6. It was interesting to learn about this upside down coffee 🙂 Growing up in Iraq the only coffee we used to have was similar to Turkish coffee, very strong and was usually served at funerals without sugar.

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