Turkish coffee beans were brought to Turkey at the beginning of 15 the century and in the 17th century, they became an important part of the Ottoman empire. Turkish coffee became popular with time and now it is known all over the world. It is recognized by its strong taste, aroma, preparation concept and service methods.
There are two stories in history about Turkish coffee discovery first one is that in 1543 the Ottoman Governor of Yemen, Ozdemir Pasha found a new beverage made from coffee beans and wanted to introduce it personally to the Ottoman sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent. The coffee impressed the Sultan and thereby he gave the decision of sealing it with the royal stamp.
The second story claims that in 1554, two Syrian traders, Hakam from Aleppo and Shams from Damascus brought these coffee beans to Istanbul and opened a shop for serving this drink also known as the ‘ Black drink’.
The First Coffeehouses
The first coffee house was opened in Tahtakale a neighborhood in Eminonu. it became a popular social site for men. They used to gather up and debate about politics, economy, life problems and played backgammon all day long. In those days coffee making was becoming a profession and the sultans ordered professional coffee makers known as ‘ Kahveci usta’. These places became so popular that people started to hold their important business meetings, cultural shows, and literature.
In 1656 Sultan Murad IV, issued a law for closing the coffeehouses as they were being used for wrong purposes including the overthrowing of the sultan, anti ottoman discussions and political arguments which were a threat to the Ottoman empire. This restriction was not well supported by the public and eventually, it turned into riots. Soon after that, the restrictions were taken back.
Even up to this day people especially men and elders go to the Coffeehouses and it has become a part of their lives.
Making of the Turkish Coffee
The preparation of Turkish coffee is a very popular and different experience for foreigners as its a different method and requires different appliances. In earlier times roasted coffee beans were first crushed in a mortar and brought into a powder form. Then they were prepared in a ‘Cezve’, a small special long-handled pot made up of copper and served in a small cup known as the ‘Fincan’. The method for preparing the coffee is that for one cup of Turkish coffee you will have to add one cup of water and two teaspoons of coffee. Never add sugar after preparing the coffee always put it while mixing the ingredients. You can add sugar as you wish it to be. Once the coffee starts boiling up wait for the foam to rise up and then pour it into your coffee cup. Turkish coffee without its foam is unacceptable in Turkish traditions. Also, this beverage is served with a glass of water and anything sweet such as Turkish delight or a piece of chocolate.
Traditional and Cultural roles of Turkish Coffee
Turkish coffee plays many important roles in Turkish people’s lives, especially during marriage proposals. The bride makes the Turkish coffee for her groom who comes with his family. There are two traditions that are known differently by the local people first one is that the bride adds salt to her grooms coffee in order to test his patience for the future and the second one is that the bride adds salt to indirectly inform the groom about how interested she is, if the salt is too much it means she is not interested but if the salt is less it indicates that she is interested in this proposal. Also, the groom’s family analyses how she prepares, the taste of the coffee, crockery equipment and the way of serving.
Serving Turkish coffee is a way of showing hospitality and respect to the guests as this coffee is an expensive and important beverage in Turkish culture and history.
There is a saying for Turkish coffee ‘ 40 yil hatiri ’ which means if you drink Turkish coffee with a friend they will remember you for the next 40 years of their lives. If a friend invites you for coffee it means there is something special or important to talk about.
There is one more tradition that is quite popular among local Turkish people known as ‘ Fal’. After finishing your coffee, the cup is flipped upside down on the saucer and then you wait for it to cool down. After it’s cooled down you pick the cup and see some images left by the coffee residues. Those images are then interpreted by people who can actually read them. Apparently there are some rules for this fortune-telling. Women especially have made this a part of entertainment in their daily lives.
Popular places to Buy Coffee
The best places to buy Turkish coffee are located in Istanbul as it was the first place where Turkish coffee entered. The most popular coffee is
‘Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi’, it sells fresh roasted and grounded coffee every day that has a beautiful strong and rich aroma captivating everyone who goes near it. This store is located in Eminonu and also you can buy its products from the local supermarket. Another popular coffee selling and making a place is ‘Nuri Toplar’ it is also located in Eminonu and is opened for a very long time. This place is a bit upscale compared to others and will serve you good coffee. You can drink Turkish coffee in every cafe but the ones in Taksim and Grand bazaar prepare it in a traditional way and the taste is amazing.
UNESCO list of Cultural Heritage
In 2013 Turkish coffee made it into the UNESCO list of cultural heritage because of its unique preparation, brewing and serving methods. Also that it has a rich cultural background and history. Turkish coffee and its tradition are known as a symbol of friendship, generosity, and warmth because of the importance given to it on social gatherings, special ceremonies, events, and marriages.