While Morocco has not been immune to a global shift towards fast-paced daily life, cafes offer a break from the constant rush.
Rabat – Morocco’s cafes don’t intend for patrons to take their coffee to-go but instead serve as a central space for leisurely socialization.
While walking through any given Moroccan city, one frequently must weave through tables and chairs encroaching onto the sidewalk outside the numerous cafes lining each street.
Despite the abundance of cafes, there is little competition for business as patrons fill the seats of each establishment. While some cafe-goers appear deep in conversation with each other, others sit on their own, watching people and vehicles pass by.
A nearly full shot of espresso, Morocco’s cafe noir, or half-drank glass of nous-nous, Morocco’s cafe au lait, is not a good measurement of how much time has passed since these cafe-goers arrived, as it’s not uncommon to spend an hour or two sipping one drink.
“You can’t walk into a Moroccan cafe to order ‘to-go’ coffee…the cafe kind of rejects this idea,” said Said Graiouid, a professor of communication and cultural studies at the University Mohammed V-Agdal, in Rabat, who has previously conducted extensive research on cafe culture within Morocco.
Cafes are more than just a place to get your tea or coffee. They also serve as a space for people to gather and socialize.
Graiouid emphasized the uniqueness of Moroccan cafes as a space where people move at a slower pace in an interview with Morocco World News on cafe culture.
He said Moroccan cafe patrons opt to enjoy their time, versus getting caught up in the hustle and bustle that characterizes most of the rest of society.
Alongside globalization, there has been a universal shift towards a faster pace of life. Today everyone is in a hurry, Graiouid said.
He offered an antidote to capture what he means, describing someone rushing through their morning, running out of the house, speeding through traffic – only to wind up at a cafe.
“If you are an exterior observer of this behavior, you would imagine that this person is running to some very urgent matter that they need to attend to.
But then they would park their car and they would get to the cafe and then they would be there for three hours,” explained Graiouid.
While most of society operates at one pace, the cafe operates at another. Cafe’s insistence on holding onto a slower pace means that one would have to look hard to find a cafe catering to patrons who want their caffeine ‘to-go,’ he added.
This trend offers a significant contrast from other parts of the world where the culture of coffee tends to fit into fast-paced life. American coffee drinks are automatically packaged to-go.
Although some individuals choose to sip their coffee within the confines of the cafe while gathering with friends, it’s more likely that the cafe is used as an out-of-office workspace.
Morocco is different. Cafe-goers are encouraged to relax and enjoy their time – potentially for hours.
“Maybe this is also some degree of balance in the life of a Moroccan – a balance that social space creates,” Graiouid said.
“There are all these other activities that require a particular quickness and swiftness in operation, but there is also a space that requires more time and actually more reflection and meditation.”