Among all things, glasses are among the most mysterious. They turn liquids into drinks and enchant simple fruit juice. They make tea drinking a ritual and wine a philosophy.
When a glass breaks the sayings proclaim good luck, though its shards are sharp as knives. Nevertheless, we kiss it again and again, sip by sip, until it is empty.
Because we should know what we kiss, we venture out of Marrakech.
A half-hour drive towards Casablanca, we pass the "Musee Mohammed VI pour la Civilization de l'Eau", which teaches us that a crystal goblet is as worthless as a discarded paper cup if we do not protect our water resources – definitely worth a visit. Next, we drive past the big new stadium, where the Football World Cup 2026 will unfortunately not take place. We pass the cactus plantation of Fatima Thiedemann, with her spiked plants that are beautiful enough to caress. And finally, we drive through a landscape of assembly halls and business centres that look neither like Africa nor Europe, but like entrepreneurial spirit and optimism.
We drive to Sidi Bou Othmane, to the factory of Kessyverre, where the typical Moroccan glasses from which you drink at Palais Aziza are blown; the green, brown, and colourless friends of the thirsty.
The guardians of hospitality. The glassy witnesses of our joys, caprices and conversations. These distinctive glasses that widen at the top and have a grip that allows you to sip the hottest tea without burning your fingers.
Sidi Bou Othmane, 30 km north of Marrakech, has about five thousand inhabitants and only once, in the year of 1912, has it been pushed into the history books. In the bloody battle of Sidi Bou Othmane, the army of Ahmed al-Hiba was defeated by the French troops and, as a result, the Glaoui Berber dynasty, allied with colonial powers, took control of the Marrakech region.
At the edge of the municipality lies an industrial area, the seat of Kessyverre. In the factory hall, the realm of the glass whisperers, concentrated composure characterizes the rhythm of production. With twelve men and twelve women at work, we see skill and power, accuracy and dedication to the moment. There is silence, despite the clatter of conveyor belts.
Glass is older than thought itself; a random product of nature. If quartz sand is melted by high heat and then cooled down, glass can form. The first recipe for production was left behind by the Assyrian king Ashurbanibal around 650 BC. He wrote on papyrus rolls: "Take 60 pieces of sand, 180 pieces of ash from seaweed, 5 pieces of chalk - heat it up and you'll get glass"
2,658 years later in Sidi Bou Othmane: At melting point, a frothy soup bubbles up at a temperature of a thousand degrees Celsius. Four glassblowers, masters of their craft, transform the boiling broth into Kessyverre's current collection.
With the help of meter-long hollow metal rods, they fish the glassy goo out of the basin and roll it on a marble slab into swirling balls. Then they breathe life into these balls. They blow air through the rods, all the while rotating and panning the rod in a continuous acrobatic performance.
In the third act, this mass is dipped into a mould, and finally, the cooling glass takes on its final shape.
Delphine, our photographer who comes from a family of tea merchants, approaches the heat and its masters. The photographs she is taking now will show a ballet of strength and skill.
Kessyverre is the lungs and lips of gifted glassblowers. Kessyverre is the packer's hands and arms, and the women's eyes at the testing station.
Kessyverre, above all, is the vision of Bouchaib Harmouzi, a Real Estate and Hospitality entrepreneur raised in Casablanca. He runs two hotels on the edge of the Sahara in Zagora and on the Atlantic coast near Oualidia. When Bouchaib Harmouzi wanted to equip his houses with a larger batch of typical tea glasses in 2012, he learned from the traders in the souk of Marrakech that they can no longer deliver the desired quantity. The company Sover, which for decades provided glasses to hundreds of thousands of households, thus shaping the image of the mint tea ritual, had given up as the last Moroccan glass factory the fight against cheap Asian imports and ceased operations.
Romance rarely becomes a business, but when romance and realism merge, we get a solid foundation. Bouchaib Harmouzi saw in the tea glass a threatened cultural heritage that he wanted to preserve. He saw a market and its possibilities. And he saw that there was no reliable recycling system for used glass bottles in the Marrakech region.
It was from these realisations that Kessyverre was born; a project that stands for tradition, and at the same time for the future, because in every glass two ideas merge. Harmouzi decided first, to make glasses in the traditional Moroccan design, and second, to set up his own recycling network.
Kessyverre is the thousand and one stories that remain in the smashed bottles which are brought from restaurants, bars and hotels in the region, from Marrakech to Sidi Bou Othmane, and it is here that they experience their rebirth at a thousand degrees.
It is the entrepreneur in Harmouzi that seeks to preserve through change, and to do it conscious of the resources around him. Despite the state's deep commitment to environmental projects, such as "Noor", the world's largest desert solar plant, the awareness of ecology and sustainability in the private sector is developing more slowly; it is here that Kessyverre is a pioneer.
All this is what the glass from which you drink your tea at the Palais Aziza has to tell. Listen, when you take a sip. Cheers, Prost, Sante, Bsaha!