We almost gave up looking for the coffeeshouse. It was daunting to walk through the maze of Khan al-Khalili in Islamic Cairo, especially when the past few hours were spent searching for the khan (market) in the first place. But that itself was an unforgettable and priceless experience, one of which I should dedicate another post to.
Along the narrow lane of El-Fishawy, the faces of obvious tourists crowding both sides of the lane were a clear indication that we've finally found the centuries-old coffeehouse that has been mentioned in almost every guide book there is. It'll take some time to fully appreciate the coffeehouse's charm, which over the years, had inspired many artistic elite. The ensemble of intricate mashrabiya design, colourful tiles and paints is, to me, everything an Egyptian coffeehouse should be. Only more opulent, this.
Except for the month of Ramadan, the coffeehouse opens daily throughout the day and night. It must have been much quieter and relaxing here decades ago. I imagine shoppers and traders from the khan stopping by for some refreshment and rest. It's far from quiet these days, given the high influx of both foreign and local visitors. We also observed a few vigilant security officers around the coffeehouse, which I think is a good safety measure.
There was nothing distinctively different in the shai (tea) and ahwa (coffee) but the Egyptian tea culture is one experience that all visitors should include in their itinerary, I feel. And El-Fishawy is a good introduction, before venturing into the more local coffeehouses.
Khan al-Khalili, Cairo