Decaffeinated Ramazan!


There are three kinds of people in this world: 

 First category comprises of one cup of coffee/tea a day persons, who enjoy their morning or evening tea/coffee, in the true spirit of a Lipton/Nescafe advertisement.

 Second category are the energizer bunnies who survive on tea and coffee (black please) to get through the day.  They also happen to be sad and forlorn de-energized bunnies during the holy month of Ramazan!

 Third category are the ones who I believe have achieved Nirvana in life since they rely on the sheer zest for life to get them going! Obviously they are only a handful, or so I would like to believe.

 Every Ramazan, when I face the dreaded decaffeinated situation, it makes me wonder how did we reach this stage of relying so heavily on tea/coffee that gets us through a hard day at work. For those of us who are so hooked onto the caffeinated drinks only know the crazy sense of zombie-ism during the first couple of Rozas (fasting), our system demanding the daily doses and in the tradition of maintaining our patience, we try and fight the yawns, but one thing is for sure: no work gets done on the first roza!!

 In the loving memory of my cuppa coffee and in my dreaded decaffeinated condition, I searched for some fast facts on the origin of coffee itself, ah The Blessed Bean indeed, and found some interesting observations:

 The word “coffee” entered English in 1598 via Italian caffè. This word was created via Turkish kahve, which in turn came into being via Arabic qahwa, a truncation of qahhwat al-bun or wine of the bean. One possible origin of the name is the Kingdom of Kaffa in Ethiopia, where the coffee plant originated (its name there is bunn or bunna).

There are several legendary accounts of the origin of the drink itself. One account involves the Yemenite Sufi mystic Shaikh ash-Shadhili. When traveling in Ethiopia, the legend goes, he observed goats of unusual vitality, and, upon trying the berries that the goats had been eating, experienced the same vitality. A similar myth attributes the discovery of coffee to an Ethiopian goat  herder named Kaldi and the Legend of Dancing Goats.

Did you know that the consumption of coffee itself was quite a controversial subject back in the days?  In 1511, it was forbidden for its stimulating effect by conservative, orthodox imams at a theological court in Mecca. However, the popularity of the drink led these bans to be overturned in 1524 by an order of the Ottoman Turkish Sultan Selim I, with Grand Mufti Mehmet Ebussuud el-İmadi issuing a celebrated fatwa allowing the consumption of coffee.1 In Cairo, Egypt, a similar ban was instituted in 1532, and the coffeehouses and warehouses containing coffee beans were sacked.2

 Anyways, the blessed bean has made its way in the hearts and souls of many in this part of Asia. While coffee has not exactly replaced the traditional cup of ‘chai’ (tea) in a typical Pakistani household, we do have our very own ‘phitti howee coffee’ (handmade cappuccino for the lack of a better translation) with lots of sugar and milk and cream.  Ashraf chacha in my office makes the most amazing phitti howee coffee we all love!!! Coffee is fast making its way through the corporate world not forgetting the starbucks-GloriaJeans-struck younger generation. Who knows, one day I shall open up my own starbucks franchise with a Barnes & Nobel outlet…wonders never cease to happen…(and that would be the day when horses would start flying and mermaids would appear on the Karachi beach…reality check: franchise cost…eeeks)


This post is in the loving memory of my cup of Black Coffee that I miss dearly at work during Ramazan! Evidently, I subscribe to the second category. I would be happy if you leave a remark sharing which category you subscribe to, would be interesting to have our own ‘mini poll’.

41 responses »

  1. Pingback: Decaffeinated Ramazan! | Tea Break

  2. You know I am not missing my chai so much this Ramazan…Although I love my two cups of tea a day. However the only time I realize I missed it is when I am having it at iftari. That is when I think …how did I survive the day without this?
    I actually read somewhere that chai/coffee brings ones stress levels down. It has nothing to do with any elements in these drinks but rather the idea of the drink itself. Just the idea a of a hot steaming “mug” of chai/coffee can put any sorry soul into a good mood. The anticipation of it is the stress reliever. As always very nicely written shas…keep ’em coming! Can you write something about “Moms of boys”? Malcom in the middle can be your inspiration…think about it :)!
    ciao and as always love to all…xxx

  3. Hey I think I cant seem to put myself in any category as there are days when i belong to the first one and there are days when I can be associated with the 2nd category. And there are days where I can be considered as a social coffee drinker…..I drink to keep people company….So dont know how and where you will put in you mini poll …
    But Shez you are doing a great job.. look forward to reading your blog….

  4. So well written… only I was wondering, how did she write this without a caffeine fix??? Lagta hai thoree see cheating zaroor huee ho gee… keep it up!

    • Ah my friend things have changed from the last time we met :p I used to lecture you on Black coffee and guess what I am hooked on to at work…..:)

  5. Another sorry soul who falls into the second category and every ramadan it hits me that I’m so hooked to chai. I’m the one who’s honked on very badly at the set of lights when they turn green (and this too here in Australia where people normally don’t use horns as a way to communicate)…Oh how I miss my chai ka cup during roza…

    Very well written Shaista 🙂

  6. Hey Shaista indeed an awesome written blog as usual! I fall in the first category, so life hasnt changed much for me during the holy month of Ramadan. Instead of having my usual cup of tea at 8:15 in the morning, i take it at 4:00am. Ah, but what has really changed is the fact that Iftari without tea is inevitable. I am a Tim Horton coffee lover too……but well that is what fasting is all about… curb your nafs.

  7. This was a wonderful piece.. as usual :). I thoroughly enjoyed reading its history. Actually I have always enjoyed both Turkish and Egypian coffee. very dark, very sweet, great cardimon (I bet the spelling is wrong!) aroma. I am a morning tea and afternoon/ evening coffee person. And here in the west I am relishing the coffee aromas everywhere… I am enjoying my Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Second cup etc etc trips… This was something one really misses in Pakistan.

    During Ramadan, Sehri tea and Iftari tea are such a delight!. Ofcourse, like you I also miss my cuppa coffee especially at 11 am…..

  8. Having experimented with even more potent mind expanding non-timber forest products, I envy people who have nothing to miss but a cup of coffee. Life can not be more uncomplicated than that. In my home town, there used to be a local thug called Ramazan Badmash. I wonder if he was named by somebody craving for his/her tea/coffee fix on a fasting day. I really realised the significance of it all after Zia ul Haq promulgated his “Ehteram e Ramazan Ordinance” (Observance of Sanctity of Ramazan Ordinance – what a concept though, like Love Your Mother Ordinance) and the police started cracking down on innocent sinners taking a snack or a smoke on railway stations. At least in my town, it resulted in a booming business for dhabas (road side eateries) inside the Hindu temples which were thronged by the faithful at lunchtime. Luckily, I spent one Ramazan in UK where it became Ramazan Sharif again for me.

    Masjid mein aa kay bhool gaya raah dayr ki – Eemaan bach gaya merey maula nay khair ki

    For (later day) Green Tea connoisseurs like me, a single shot of espresso has become a one in a while, almost sinful indulgence but all my sympathies for caffeine craving officers, and more so for their hapless underlings.

  9. Vey well written, as usual. Lukily, I guess I belong to the first category. All the best for remaining Ramazan. Maybe Ramzan is a good therapy for people who would like to jump from the 2nd category to the 1st category 🙂

  10. very well written shaista baji and thanx for sharing. Well as tam would tell you I belong to the third category… am not a tea\coffe person at all… would have a cup of coffee once in few months time and even that would be in winters. So I really cant feel your pain 🙂 but wish you a happy ramadan ! keep writing, you are doing a great job.

  11. Shaista,
    the timing of your article couldnt have been more appropriate because I was missing my cup of ‘phitti howee coffee’ in office and after Ramazan I will have to checkout your “Ashraf Chacha’s’ coffee, I am sure he has a competitor in our office.
    As far as the catagory of coffee drinker is concerned, I am between catagory 1 and 2 (love to have it, would go an extra mile to get it but can live without it).

    It was a very nice article and really enjoyed reading it.

  12. Pingback: Twitted by pakstruck

  13. LOL – i still have to reach the nirvana but for now ill call myself rock solid energizer bunny waiting to gulp down my next cup to power me through the next mile – its a disease – and im loving it

  14. Pingback: Twitted by drawab

  15. hey….i just read it…..very well read……i fall in the 2nd category……i really miss chaye while i am fasting….!

  16. I think i need to invent a category for me, i consume 4-5 cups of tea a day plus 2 cups of coffee(phitti hui is best) and at least a couple of cans of regular iced coke plus a red bull here and there. What would u call me?

    the word “insane” comes to mind

  17. i am so impressed with ur research and knowledge .Its very well written. we are all dependent on caffiene for that additional boast of agility during the day.indeed its the only thing i look forward to after dropping my kids at preschool….so comforting so relaxing .i also miss my late afternoon tea with cookies or plain old rusk what a treat!!!!so all avid coffee and tea drinkers hang in there ‘treat time’ will return soon…..

  18. Shaista!I have just read your blog…on a very interesting topic.I don’t know in which catagory I belong?I am a true lover of a very strong chaie.The only thing I missed during Ramazan is chaie…very well written…How can you manage to write it in so much detail…..without coffee????You know very well I always love your writtings…….

  19. well I belong to the fourth and the fifth category. Huh? what? there is no fourth and fifth category? lemme go grab a cup of tea and then I’ll talk 😉
    On a serious note I would think that I belong to the category of people who enjoy “coffe, tea and company”, quite literally speaking, and although they are not hooked to either, are a considerable market-force to reckon with. My favourite parties are coffee parties and tea parties with friends and I would any time skip a hearty dinner in favour of a high tea. So I can safely claim to be a “social drinker”.
    I also shamefully admit to be among those who believe in a lot of exercise, mouth exercise to be precise. This category always has the “mouth on the go” and they happen to be either talking or eating. For me, this was never an issue till the day my size became my most noticeable feature. It was that fateful day when I joined this other group of people who turn to tea for “caloric” reasons. I call this group “drink for a cause” group;)
    I can sum up to say that I drink tea for the sheer joy of it. Nothing more and nothing less. the same way I keep returning to your blog page. Just for the sheer joy of it:) I specially like your choice of topics and find them both entertaining and thought provoking. Keep up the good work
    PS: This the second time i’m trying to upload it. Its cursed, I tell you, it’s CURSED 😛

  20. Hey Hey Hey
    count me in the 2nd category i guess.
    Two things
    You know what few years back i was always afraid that i have a habit of drinking tea in the morning at 8:00 then at 11:00, after 2:00, at 5:00, at 9:00 (after dinenr time) and kabhi kabhi sonay se pehle if we have halwa aur pasteries etc. But as soon when the Ramdan stars I felt that it is Allah’s giving thing that I felt okay wthout having 4 additional cups of tea and my cup is not general cup it’s a big mug.
    Think of opening dunkin at barnes and nobles

  21. Ahhhh taitaaaa! what a topic… i belong to the second category! though i take 2-3 cups everyday but those cups do jump start me!hehehe! i sooo miss themm.. i think my poor kids suffer the most when i do not have my morning tea! as for the afternoon coffee, umm i think its more of a social thing! whenever i get a 15 min break from class i run to the lil deli across the street with my friends and enjoy the coffee my amigo friend makes for me while discussing our projects! n the third cup i mostly have after i have completed the marathon from downtown NYC to Jersey!
    🙂 taita i must say your blogs are awesome..thank you soo much for sharing them with me. You rock babes.keeep up the good work!

  22. I live on chai… every day, its chai chai chai… chai that gets me through… every day, and without tea I can not focus and I want to yell and scream, and just roll up and cry.

    yes, thats me. how could you be so energetic and positive that you researched. my musing on tea would only be, tea tea tea tea tea tea tea…you get the message

    and how about the migraine.. the awful migraine that never ever ever leaves my side. how am i suppsoed to live with it?

    its just awful. why are we so dependent on caffeine? how sad are we? the independent 21st century women, who have it all, family, work, career, and friends…(and beauty), but we can not live without tea/coffee


  23. I’m definitely category 1 but I don’t really miss my chai that much ajkal!
    On the origin/ use of coffee, the spiritual masters in Turkey used to drink coffee to stay awake for worship through the night! The principle is the same even now I suppose, but the purpose has changed 🙂

  24. A very light different type of an article. Let me tell you are spoiling rozza of lots of people. Waiting for the Starbucks.(actually not for starbucks coffee but for mermaids to appear on karachi beach). good topic and i think i am in the second cat.

  25. Jia, very nice article. I belong to the second category as well. Wanted to read this blog while enjoying my morning cup of espresso shot, and it has energized me up for the rest of the day (no not the coffee, but the article :)).

  26. taita, im so the second category! i get such a bad headache without my coffee, that i make myself a cup either at aftar or sehri, though jaffar keeps telling me how will u sleep after this?
    btw a very good investment is a coffee maker, The coffee u get out of that is the best EVER! should i send u one with ammie?

  27. Madam,

    I share you pain. And yes i also hallucinate about having my own coffee shop that for onces does not sell hot gutter water with milk and sugar but sells real coffee. For years i had thought that Starbucks was the only and true coffee with divine sanction. However, it was a German friend who introduced me to the moderate version of coffeeism that is followed in the west. LaVien sells coffee that is closer to your heart without the pretension of a central corporation dictating what the world should drink nor does it impose large quantities. I am still a believer in Starbucks but i no longer believe that it is the only interpretation.

  28. Actually I belong to third category. NO TEA AT ALL since childhood and Coffee only in winter with clouds and rain. It seems like boring that I don’t like Tea at all but people belong to category two will appreciate me that how difficult task I am doing.

    I think now your blogs will move towards Food Stuff because it’s always a Lunch Break after Tea Break.

    Nice research on “coffee”

    Once again WelDone Sis…

  29. As usual very well written Shaista!I don’t know what category I fall in.Somehow this Ramadan I am not that keen on tea BUT any other day, I can’t function till I get my dose.If I’m running late and have to step out right away, my “cup” accompanies me in the car!!!:))

  30. Hi,

    I finally got around to reading your blog and really enjoyed it. I belong in the second category too. Intresting to note that coffee was banned at some point in history! opinions and perecptions do evolve – there is hope!

  31. Well written and a good piece of information about coffee. Some time I surprise why people rely on coffee/tea to get extra energy to work more. Don’t they know it will reduce the life of your body. You can get same results without using coffee. Yup I agree with Shaista, Ashraf makes best coffee in our office.
    I fall in 1st category (I think!)

  32. @Faisal K
    I would call you an American!

    I’ve grown addicted to caffeine slowly but surely over the past couple of years. Was hard at first this Ramadan without that tea/coffee @ 10AM and afternoon but have gotten used to it eventually

  33. this piece is as interesting as my 2nd cup of morning tea/coffee…. 1st cup is just wash to and preare your tongue for a soothing heavely experience. how nice it would be to roll away from a puritan view of coffee & tea drinkers’ category to include those who like to include a cookie in this exclusive relationship…… umm yummy !!!

  34. very welll written bajia!
    its pretty informative too so i thoroughly enjoyed it. well i think i started off from 3rd category and as i joined the professional world, climbed my way up to the 2nd category(from a caffeine lover’s perspective)/down(from that of an anti-caffeine’s) Its then i realized what i had been missing in life and how energizing/refreshing this cup of coffe can be in my agnoizing moments of work pressure and morning blues 🙂 though since i left work i am down/up to the 1st category!

  35. hey girl. havent got around to commenting on ur musings till now, but this is hard to pass up. Is this categorization coffee;centric only, or does the madness expand to include CocaCola junkies? Without my Coke, I cannot BE!(What a sad day for my hubby today) I can live in Cinderella-ville, thinking i only treat it as a mere beverage, but each ramzan shatters the naivete. Coke is a way of life! Parallel reality!! A seperate food group, for crying out loud!!!!!!!! No mere drink, this.

    Starbucks and Barnes & Nobel??? Really? God, if i wasn’t so lazy, I would have given you a run for ur money, woman! Opening up a rival store right next to yours:-) But as the story of my life goes, I’ll suffice to be your biggest patron.

    Cheers & keep writing.

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