cafe culture

Inside and outside the Cafe Puah in Jaffa. It’s in the middle of the Jaffa Flea Market and it’s a great place to hang out and drink coffee and eat breakfast on Shabbat, when the market is closed. 

Israelis love to drink coffee and there are more coffee shops per square metre in Tel Aviv than anywhere else I know. Quite a high percentage of these are individual, i.e. non-chain. Starbucks did try to make it here, but failed completely, as the coffee is just bad. The standard coffee here is an “upside down” coffee – kafeh hafukh – which is apparently not the same as a cappuccino. 

“Nescafe” is the general term for “instant coffee” here – in Hebrew “nes” means “miracle” so Nescafe is “miracle coffee”. When I first came here and didn’t speak much Hebrew, I saw something called “nes al halav” on a  suburban menu – which I translated as “A Miracle On Milk”. I ordered this miracle, only to be served hot milk with a spoon of powdered coffee on top. Ugh.

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18 comments on “cafe culture”

  1. Heh.. I always wondered why we call it Nescafe when there is actual company with such a name. I thought that the word and the company are related.
    Interesting way of portraying that cafe in the manner you chose of dividing the photo into two parts – The fact that you left the interoir colorful, warm and inviting, while the outside is black/white and cold, is a wonderful way to portray how wonderul that place is :)
    Hmm, maybe I should pay a visit :P

  2. Love how you are showing the interior of the cafe’ in color – warm and wonderful and inviting – in contrast with the b&w exterior. Am relieved to hear that the ‘chains’ haven’t invaded..and that coffee is still the coffee I remember it to be in Israel. And – interesting about the ‘nescafe’. Funny how one word can be said in so many different ways in so many different cultures.

  3. I’m really enjoying these photos of everyday places there. And the story about the language confusion and the milk with coffee was hilarious — probably funnier for me than for you since I didn’t have to drink the hot milk with powdered coffee. Incentives to learn the language are many!
    Thanks, by the way, for making the effort to post comments on my blog despite the hassle. I don’t know why my blog is causing problems, but please know that I appreciate your visits.

  4. Interesting choises. It’s difficult to make everyday scenes look extraordinary, but you’ve captured the light here in a beautiful way. Somehow your images seem a bit surreal, and that is a good thing.

  5. What a wonderful interior with lovely pictures and decorations. I love the warmth of the jumble (for lack of a better word) of stuff outside and inside. You have presented it in a way that gives one a sense of the atmosphere and not just documented this lovely place – but then you would never just document… Your story about the hot milk with instant coffee made me chuckle – miracle indeed!

  6. ha! nescafe must love advertising in israel then!! a great pair of shots, cat. looks a nice cafe.

  7. How nice it is to have a favorite coffee shop. A place to call your own. It looks comfortable and relaxing. In contrast, here we have very few successful “individual, non-chain” coffee shops, Starbucks and chain doughnut shops dominate the coffee shop market.

  8. Your commentary makes me laugh..
    it is very interesting.. Now, I will say “miracle coffee” in france !!

  9. Great interpretation and documentation, as others I like the way you divided the picture, giving the outside a colder colorless mood and the inside warm and colorful.

    Your words made me laugh, hot milk with instant coffee on top.. ;) And Nescafe is a common term for instant coffee here as well.

  10. I have always felt that the mixing of the word coffee and Nescafe an odd thing. It may be many things, but coffee it ain’t. I always like to refer to it as a hot brown drink!
    Anywhow – the photos are lovely, the colour in particular, warm and inviting.

  11. I LOVE sidewalk cafes! Coffee never tastes so good as when you can enjoy it in the fresh air. Sadly there are no cafes in my area, so when the weather is nice I make my own outside my house!

  12. you’ve caught the feeling here i think. i want to be there.

  13. Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment :)

    There are some places in my neighbourhood where I sometimes have to walk in the road because the pavement is narrow and is full of people sitting at cafe tables, with dogs. And long may it continue.

  14. Well what I find interesting is none of the chairs match. They are almost all of different sizes and shapes.

  15. These photos are SO nice!
    I haven’t been to Puah yet, although I’m working in Jaffa 3 times a week so I’ll go there soon! Cat, I wanted to ask how long have you been in Israel and where are you from?

  16. Terry – well spotted :) I guess they do it deliberately to add to the trendy Bohemian look.

    Sarah – thanks :) You should check it out, I think it gets crowded when the flea market is on but on Shabbat morning it was really peaceful (and there’s a boutique just across the street with nice hand-made clothes – bonus). As for your question – I’ve been here 2 and a half years, and I’m from London.

  17. I love Puah, one of my favorite breakfast joints


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