Among a cluster of indistinct commercial shops, there is a cafe with a decorative feature running across the top of door and window. Perhaps fringe will be the right word. It also resembles an unfinished traditional woven basket, that delivers entry into what seems like someone’s living room.
Except that it’s a coffee shop named Alhaql to find a brew made from tiny red beans that are indigenous to the area and reputed for its energy giving properties. The place was opened in the fall of 2019 by sisters Khawla, Norah and Nawal Johali, and has since become a popular spot to remain both caffeinated and connected with friends and family.
On the day of our visit, customers were seen sipping away quietly: One person was tapping away indistinctly on a humming laptop, while another was glued to his phone, perhaps catching plan friends on Snapchat. It isn’t really unusual to get male customers entering the space adorned with all the local headdress, a halo made of fragrant local flowers and plants. It’s a spot that feels both traditionally homely but with a modern vibe. And very Jazan.
Their logo seems reminiscent of a popular coffee chain from Seattle using locally inspired branding. The illustration looks to me like a faun, that mythological creature that is part human, part goat, which graces every cup, and it is a symbol of peace and fertility. The faun’s human arm holds aloft a branch of coffee beans, proudly.
Legend has it that a long, long time ago, a new herder named Khaldi within the southern tip of what has since become section of the Saudi nation, realized that his goats were suddenly energized after nibbling on what appeared as if tiny beads of cherry. He decided to try it out and was himself given somewhat of a boost. And that’s the story showing how those little red espresso beans became an addictive conjunction with Saudi diets.
The cafe had to press pause when the pandemic shut down everything, but as soon as it was safe, customers were herded back to the small nook in which mellow music, plentiful seating and strong refreshment is abundant.
Abeer Madkhali, who manages the social media channels for the cafe, told Arab News she started out being a customer. “I used to reach the cafe during my first years in college as it was so close. It became our first choice to read and study. It also became the very best choice to satisfy up with friends since it includes a comfortable feel — almost like a family environment. ”
Madkhali said the cafe already had a stellar reputation in the region for having a traditional look but with a modern feel. Her favorite thing at the cafe will be the freshly baked cookies which are made daily — an ooey gooey circle of goodness.
Probably the most popular drinks is a classic favorite with a local twist. Since cardamom is so prevalent in Saudi coffee, they decided to build a cardamom latte in which the spice is the star of the cup.
They also offer every visitor water which has been vaporized with charcoal and mastic. The aroma is strong and it feels like it slides to the back of your throat and tingles a little. The aftertaste lingers but not in the terrible way. It is said to provide health benefits and it is frequently consumed in the country’s south. The cafe counter has a water cooler in which customers will help themselves to some little of this southern tradition at no extra cost.
Visit them on Instagram @Alhaql_sa. Locals can order with the delivery apps.