The National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) is home to a major Years of Culture exhibition exploring the history of coffee from Indonesia to Qatar. Growing Kopi, Drinking Qahwa; Stories of Coffee in Qatar and Indonesia is now open for public viewing until 17 February 2024.

The show was organised in partnership with the National Museum of Indonesia to mark the Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture.

According to NMoQ Director HE Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Thani, the Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture is a testament to the power of shared narratives in fostering understanding and collaboration, something he said they see come through quite clearly through the ‘Growing Kopi, Drinking Qahwa’ exhibition.

Coffee Exhibition

He said that the exhibition extends to shared traditions of hospitality, dialogue and creativity fuelled by the practice of brewing, serving and sharing coffee.

Indonesia’s Ambassador to Qatar, HE Ridwan Hassan, meanwhile, said he is thrilled to witness the incredible cultural experience built by the talented teams at the NMoQ and the National Museum of Indonesia. The ambassador said that there is a lot that binds Qatar and Indonesia together, made stronger through the deeper exploration into each other’s cultures enabled during the Qatar-Indonesia Year of Culture.

The exhibition was created by joint curatorial teams from NMoQ and the National Museum of Indonesia. It brings to life the history of growing, trading and drinking coffee around the world, with a particular focus on the traditional and contemporary coffee cultures of Qatar and Indonesia.

The exhibition uses interactive displays, immersive projections, sights, smells, soundscapes, and a specially commissioned contemporary artwork.

Five thematic sections

Growing Kopi, Drinking Qahwa is organised in five thematic sections, ranging from growing to drinking coffee as part of shared traditions. The exhibition also explores topics that tackle sustainable farming and social and cultural development.

COFFEEWhat is Coffee? 

The exhibition’s first section introduces visitors to the coffee plant and its prized beans, explaining the origins of kopi (the term for ‘coffee’ in Bahasa Indonesia) from the Arabic word for coffee, qahwa.

Growing and Trading Coffee

The section on Growing and Trading Coffee focuses on the history of coffee in the Arab World and Indonesia. It explains how coffee went from the forests of Ethiopia to Indonesia’s Java Island. This part of the exhibition also features a powerful contemporary art installation Bloom in Agony (2022), from the Indonesian artists’ collective Gegerboyo, which explores connections between Indonesia’s colonial heritage and modern coffee practices.

Roasting and Brewing

Roasting and Brewing engages audiences through sensory experiences using coffee beans and spices. The section highlights the different roasting and brewing traditions. Through videos, visitors can learn about qahwa brewing from an elder Qatari coffee expert and enjoy a coffee-making competition showing the recipes of different Qatari families.

COFFEEServing and Drinking

Among the final section of Growing Kopi, Drinking Qahwa is Serving and Drinking, which focuses on the rituals associated with coffee drinking in Qatar and Indonesia. Highlights in this section include a 360-degree projection that transports the visitor to Filosofi Kopi, an iconic coffee shop in the heart of Jakarta, while another circular space evokes a Qatari majlis. Inside, two screens display a short film created in collaboration with Qatari youth showing the complexity of the coffee serving and drinking etiquette in Qatar, often with humorous outcomes.

Coffee and Creativity

Finally, Coffee and Creativity explores the many ways in which coffee helps foster creative individuals and industries in Qatar and Indonesia. The section highlights Indonesian cultural practices such as batik textiles and traditional mask dances, and a celebration of Qatari artists and entrepreneurs.

Public programmes

Accompanying Growing Kopi, Drinking Qahwa; Stories of Coffee in Qatar and Indonesia, will be a series of public programmes engaging local coffee shops, artists and baristas from Indonesia, as well as activities including barista experiences and competitions, special tours, and partnerships with local shops.


Coffee in Qatar and Indonesia (25 Oct | 5 pm – 7 pm): This is a caffeinated cultural exploration of Qatar and Indonesia’s coffee culture to unravel the unique traditions and captivating stories of these diverse nations. 

Brewing and Storytelling Competition (28 Oct | 3 pm – 7 pm): Calling all talented baristas in Qatar! Showcase your coffee artistry in this brewing competition. Win prizes – and hearts – of coffee lovers. 

A Story of Arabic Coffee (30/31 Oct | 1 pm – 2:30 pm for English and 4 pm – 5:30 pm for Arabic): Learn the history of Arabic coffee as well as the traditions, necessary equipment and rituals related to preparing and serving the gahwa in Qatar.

For more information about this series of activations, send an email to [email protected].

Check out Marhaba’s FREE e-Guides for everything you need to know about Qatar.