• iKonnect

#Pakal_Kafe - The Israeli Coffee Kit

Updated: May 6

If you’ve ever hiked with Israelis, you have definitely seen this ceremony. Once Israelis reach a summit or some other beautiful spot, they will pull out their #pakal_kafe containing all the utensils that are needed in order to make a pot of cafe shahor (black coffee).


While sipping their steaming cups of coffee they will then discuss any topic that comes to mind- No topic is off-limits for Israelis.


A pakal kafe set up in a field of red flowers with a camera set up in front
Credit: Shifra Gottleib

So what is a #Pakal_Kafe?

The word pakal [פק״ל] is actually a Hebrew acronym that came from army life. ״Pkudat Keva Lechayal״, in translation, means: “a fixed command for soldiers” – everything the soldier must have with him at all times.


Like many army acronyms and army slang, the word "pakal" received additional meaning outside of military life. When added to the word, kafe, which means coffee, pakal kafe takes on a new meaning - everything you might need in order to make coffee (or tea) outdoors.

Must have in a pakal kafe kit:

  • Finjan - small coffee pot with a heatproof handle

  • Portable burner - open fire is also an option

  • 4 small glasses (sharing is caring)

  • 1 teaspoon (to stir)

  • Bag of Turkish Coffee

  • Sugar

  • Teabags (for those who don't drink coffee)

  • Water

  • Matches

* We would add to this kit: flashlight, pocket knife, lighter, dish-sponge, garbage bags.

A pakal kafe pot and cup at the edge of a pool
Credit: Shifra G

Israeli black coffee isn't the same black coffee you would order in the US or other places around the world - in Israel it's a cup of brewed or filtered coffee without milk.

Israeli black coffee goes by many names such as Cafe Shahor, Cafe Turkey, Botz (meaning mud), Kahve, and many more. The most common term is probably just cafe shahor (1) [קפה שחור] which means black coffee.

The Israeli's drink Cafe Shahor (black coffee) can be made in one of two ways:

  1. Place a large spoonful of קָפֶה טוּרְקִי (coarse ground of coffee beans) in a small cup. Then pour some boiling water [3/4 of the cup, never to the top], and then stir it until you can see the foam on the top layer of the water. Then if desired, add some sugar and give it another stir.

  2. Boil water in a small pot called a Finjan over a small flame. Then while the flame is still on, pour some קָפֶה טוּרְקִי (coarse ground of coffee beans) and let the bubbles do the cooking and mixing. When it's ready, you let the coffee sit first, and then you may pour it into cups.

The recipe for boiling the Perfect Pot of Cafe Shahor


While we were researching the best way to make cafe shahor, we were amazed to hear that every Israeli has his or her own version of "the right way" to brewing a pot of cafe shahor. So we combined all their versions and this is what we got!


The process is quite simple, but every step is crucial.

____________________________

  1. Fill the pot (Finjan) with water Just up to around an inch below the rim. You need to leave room for the coffee and make sure it doesn't boil over.

  2. Heat the water Wait until you see small bubbles begin to rise to the surface, not more than that.

  3. Add the coffee Remove the pot from the flame and pour the coffee into the water. There should be about half an inch of coffee covering the water. *after a few times you will figure out the amount that suits you best.

  4. Cook the coffee Place the pot back on the flame and let the pot heat up again. Now, this is the critical part When the coffee starts to boil and rises to the top, quickly lift the pot above the flame. Then once the bubbles settle down, place the pot once more on the flame. You must keep an eye on the pot at all times because in a fraction of a second the pot can boil over.

  5. Turn off the flame After you completed step 4, where you mixed and cooked the coffee, you can turn off the flame and place the pot on the ground for a minute to rest. You are letting the grounded coffee sink so when you pour the coffee you won't end up drinking grainy coffee. When do I add the sugar? After the coffee rests, you can add sugar and give it a stir. * We recommend that everyone add the sugar to their own cups and not straight into the pot.

  6. Pour into the cups and enjoy!

It might seem complicated at first but believe us, after the first time you make it you will master the process, and you will appreciate the taste of the coffee. Trust us, you won't be disappointed.


Feel free to share it with your friends. But don't forget to tell them where you learned it from.