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Learn, Practice, and Perfect Your Hebrew: Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

The StreetWise podcast from TLV1 in Israel can help you use Hebrew to get properly caffeinated

Rose Kaplan
April 12, 2016

Efshar hafuch? That is, may I have a cappuccino? Please, ani meta al hafuch, I’m dying for one.

This week our selection from Guy Sharett’s StreetWise Hebrew podcast is all about coffee, or, kafé—you know, for those days when you’re out of Keurig capsules.

Everyone’s familiar with arabica coffee—believed to be the first species of coffee bean ever cultivated—but did you know the word itself also comes from Arabic? In this episode, Sharett explains that the Arabic word qahwah is the likely source of the Hebrew word kafé, as well as the English word coffee.

In Hebrew, “black coffee” is kafé turki—literally, “Turkish coffee”—or also kafé shachor (as mentioned in “Kafé Etsel Berta,” the 70s hit by Ha-neshamot Ha-tehorot, or the Pure Souls).

And, as in Dutch, what we call cappuccino, after the Italians, they call kafé hafuch—literally “upside-down” or “inverted coffee.” For an example, see “Ahava Be-sof Ha-kayits,” a funky track by renowned pop singer/songwriter Zvika Pick.

Myself, I prefer kafé im chalav dal shuman, coffee with milk—although, Guy says, Israelis tend to shorten this to just kafé im chalav dal. But I wouldn’t say no to kafé im hel, coffee with cardamom, a delicacy that’s hard to find in the United States. And, until next time, I’ll take that coffee lakachat—to go, thanks.

Listen to the episode, “The elixir of life: Israel’s cafe culture,” below, and as always, follow along with the words and phrases as you listen.

Ani shoté kafé shachor – אֲנִי שוֹתֶה קָפֶה שָחוֹר

Kafé turki – קָפֶה טוּרקִי

Hi biksha kafé hafuch – הִיא בִּיקשָה קָפֶה הָפוּךְ

Kafé botz – קָפֶה בּוֹץ

Kafé namés – קָפֶה נָמֵס

Ta’ase li kafé, ta’asi li kafé – תַּעֲשֶה לִי קָפֶה, תַּעֲשִי לִי קָפֶה

Kafé im chalav, kafe bli chalav – קָפֶה עִם חָלָב, קָפֶה בְּלִי חָלָב

Kafé im chalav dal shuman – קָפֶה עִם חָלָב דָּל שוּמָן

Hafuch im ketsef, bli ketsef – הָפוּךְ עִם קֶצֶף, בְּלִי קֶצֶף

Kafé im hel – קָפֶה עִם הֵל

Efshar hafuch? – אֶפְשָר הָפוּךְ?

Lashevet o lakachat – לָשֶבֶת אוֹ לָקַחַת?

Kafé turki, bediyuk ma she’ata tsarich – קָפֶה טוּרְקִי, בְּדִיוּק מָה שֶאָתָה צָרִיךְ

Rose Kaplan is an intern at Tablet.