The Story Behind the Israeli “Hafooch” Coffee

Blog | 2 min read
Yonatan Engler
Yonatan Engler

Upside-Down Coffee?

There are many urban myths that have circulated throughout the years that explain why Israelis refer to cappuccinos as “café hafooch” (קפה הפוך), which literally translates to “upside-down coffee.” We did some digging and gathered all the explanations we could find to give you a clear answer to the question: “why do Israelis order upside-down coffee?

The Ratio Myth

According to this myth, the name hafooch was coined because of how the cappuccino differed from the coffee Israelis were used to drinking beforehand. At the time, Israelis were accustomed to drinking coffee that consisted of more water, more espresso, and just a drop of milk. With the emergence of the cappuccino, the ratio of the coffee, water, and milk “flipped upside down” (in a cappuccino there’s less coffee and water and more milk) which is why Israelis began calling cappuccinos קפה הפוך.

The Preparation Myth

According to another urban legend, the name “hafooch” actually refers to the order in which coffee and milk are poured into the cup. The claim here is that the popular method of coffee preparation in Israel before the “hafooch” consisted of first pouring milk into a cup and then adding espresso after. The cappuccino required the espresso to be poured first and the milk added after, and therefore became known as café hafooch – since it was literally the old preparation style “flipped upside down.”

The “Hafooch Isn’t a Cappuccino” Myth

This urban myth may be hard to prove but some people go as far as to say that the hafooch is not even a cappuccino and is actually an original Israeli invention that predates the cappuccino’s arrival in Israel. The claim here is that the classic Italian cappuccino is prepared by first pouring foamed milk into a cup and then adding espresso and that it’s the Israelis that began pouring the espresso first and then adding foamed milk after. The Israelis then began referring to their unique concoction as café hafooch. Today, no matter where you are in the world, a cappuccino is traditionally prepared by first pouring espresso and then adding foamed milk so this myth may be just that – a myth!

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