Coffee beverages are beloved all around the world. However, each country adds its own twist, so trying a unique coffee drink can be a way to travel without leaving your house!
What Senegal contributes to global coffee culture is Café Touba, a sweet and spicy coffee drink. Read on for a Café Touba recipe that you can use to try this treat at home!
What is Café Touba?
If you’ve come to love a pumpkin spice latte or dirty chai, Café Touba might be just what you need to take your coffee experience to the next level.
Café Touba is a coffee drink flavored with Selim or Guinea pepper (also known as djar), the dried fruit of Xylopia aethiopica shrub.
This coffee drink was named after the Senegalese holy city Touba, settled by the Mouride brotherhood, an order of Sufi Islam. Its Great Mosque, one of the largest in Africa, is a common destination for religious pilgrimages. Of course, the main activity at the mosque is prayers — and coffee helps devotees stay focused during long prayer sessions.
Sheikh Amadou Bamba, the spiritual leader of the Mouride brotherhood, introduced this coffee drink to Senegal when he returned from exile in Gabon. He brought djar, which was spicier than more commonly used black Indian pepper.
Café Touba is prepared by roasting djar pods together with green Robusta beans. The coffee-to-djar ratio is typically 80 percent coffee to 20 percent djar. If cloves are added for the extra flavor, the ratio is adjusted to 80 percent coffee, 10 percent djar, and 10 percent cloves.
The roasted coffee and pepper are ground and brewed using a fabric filter. Sugar is usually added to Café Touba after the coffee is brewed. The sweetness of the sugar helps balance the drink’s peppery flavor.
Coffee drinking culture in Senegal
Café Touba is an integral part of the coffee-drinking culture in Senegal. It is served at ceremonies, including the Grand Magal of Touba, an annual pilgrimage attracting visitors worldwide to the holy city.
Café Touba is both a special treat and a routine habit. It is sold from street carts and in the markets all over the country. The vast majority of Senegalese people drink Café Touba daily, and selling it is an important part of the local economy.
Touba drink is also prepared at workplaces for a coffee break and shared with friends and family like anywhere else. It is commonly consumed in the afternoon or evening, so it’s sometimes referred to as Café Ngoon, or “afternoon coffee” in the local Wolof language. Another name for Café Touba is “keroséne,” referring to the intense aroma and flavor of the beverage.
Café Touba ingredients
Finding ingredients to prepare Café Touba based on the original recipe might be challenging. But if you are excited to try something new, there is always a way to make it happen!
You can buy Selim or djar pods online if you can’t find them in the stores where you live. However, even if you can’t get the djar (or you are impatient to wait until your online order arrives), you can still make a simpler version of Café Touba by substituting it with black pepper, cardamom, and cloves for a similar effect.
Robusta coffee is less common than Arabica in many parts of the world. But if you want to follow the original recipe and roast coffee beans yourself, you’ll need to get green Robusta beans.
However, if you want to try this African coffee drink but prefer to skip the preparation process, you can buy Café Touba mix on Amazon.
How to make Café Touba at home: 3 recipes
Ready to brew some spicy Senegalese coffee? I have prepared three Café Touba recipes, from authentic but complex to approximate but easy. The simpler recipe versions are adapted for the ingredients likely lying around in your pantry.
Café Touba: the traditional version
From roasting and grinding coffee beans and spices to pouring the coffee from one cup to the other like a Senegalese street vendor, you can share this unique gourmet coffee experience with your family and friends.
- 1/2 cup (40 g) green Robusta coffee beans
- 1 tablespoon (5 g) djar pods
- 1 tablespoon (5 g) cloves
- 13.5 oz (400 ml) water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Add green Robusta beans, djar, and cloves to a pan. Heat it on the stove burner while stirring the spice and bean mix until they are dark brown. Let it cool down.
- Grind the beans and spices with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to medium grind size, similar to what you use for a pour-over.
- Set up a fabric filter over a jug, and add the ground coffee.
- Boil the water and wait around 30 seconds until it reaches 205 °F (96 °C).
- Pour the water carefully over the ground coffee, letting it drain completely into the jug.
- You may need to run water through the filter more than once if it does not fit all in one go. Each time, let it drain completely.
- Add sugar to a cup, and pour coffee into it.
- Pour Café Touba back and forth between two cups. It helps to dissolve the sugar and cool it down.
- Serve in small cups.
Café Touba, made using this traditional recipe, has quite an intense flavor. If the coffee is too spicy for you, you can add more sugar or dilute it with some water.
Café Touba: the barista version
Does the whole hassle of roasting coffee beans sound a bit too much for you? Or maybe you are not a big Robusta coffee fan? After trying the original Café Touba recipe, I adapted it for specialty coffee beans using Hario V60 pour-over coffee maker, but you can easily brew it with Chemex, especially if you want to make a bigger quantity for a few people. This version of Café Touba has a more subtle flavor than the original one, with just enough spiciness to tickle your palate.
- 1 ounce (30g) roasted coffee beans
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) ground cardamom
- 16 oz (500 ml) water
- Sugar (optional)
- Grind coffee beans with a burr grinder to medium grind size.
- Place a paper filter into the V60 brewing cone, and put it on top of the server.
- Wet the filter with hot water and discard the water from the server.
- Place ground coffee, pepper, and cloves in the filter and stir everything with a spoon.
- Slowly pour 50g of 205 °F (96 °C) water over the coffee and let it saturate for 30 seconds.
- Pour the rest of the water in a circular motion from the outline of the filter towards the center.
- Gently stir the coffee using a wooden spatula in a clockwise direction. Wait for all the water to extract.
- Remove the cone from the jug.
- Serve Café Touba in small cups with sugar.
If you have a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, use whole peppercorns, cloves, and cardamom pods. Grinding all the spices right before brewing will produce a more intense aroma and flavor.
Café Touba: the lazy version
Don’t own a pour-over coffee maker or coffee grinder? Not a problem! You can still brew an aromatic Café Touba using your drip coffee maker!
If your drip coffee maker is bigger-sized with a carafe, multiply the quantities of ingredients by the number of servings you intend on brewing. As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
If your drip coffee maker is bigger-sized with a carafe, multiply the quantities of ingredients by the number of servings you intend on brewing.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.