2hwa Culture in Cairo

The 2hwa (pronounced aah-wuh is such a beautiful thing.

2hwa (or قهوة) can mean coffee or coffee shop.

There are different kinds of 2hwas and they’re made for different kinds of people.

Some 2hwas are only for old men. They don’t have a sign that says “OLD MEN ONLY” but any woman approaching can clearly see that she’s not welcome there. These are usually “neighborhood” 2hwas where men go to watch sports, play a board game, drink coffee, and smoke unflavored معسل tobacco from a hookah pipe.

Some neighborhood 2hwas are welcoming to women and families; Our local 2hwa had reserved the inside tables for women and families. (this ensured that the women wouldn’t be harassed or bothered from male patrons and/or passing onlookers) More and more women are smoking shisha (hookah) in Egypt and it is slowly becoming a more accepted practice but it is by no means a “normal” thing for women or teenagers to do.

There are fancy 2hwas (i visited one in the souq or market) and there are cafés like Costa Coffee or Starbucks. The owner of the 2hwa is called the ma3lim and if he’s not present his second in command becomes the ma3lim. It’s his job to ensure the customers are comfortable, nothing sketchy occurs, and people feel like coming back.

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