The history and traditions of Turkish Coffee

Posted On: 18 June, 2019 In Blog

Coffee is dated back all the way to the 15 century when it was first discovered in the Kaffa region of Ethiopia and then spread across to Yemen, from which it then reached Istanbul and then expanded on through to Europe. Even though coffee is not from Turkey, the Tahtakale neighbourhood of Istanbul is where the first coffee shop was opened in recorded world history.

To make Turkish coffee finely grounded coffee beans, cold water and sugar are used. A special coffee pot called a 'cezve' is used to make the coffee. The pot is small with a long handle and is usually made from brass or copper. The coffee is then cooked slowly to ensure there is an ample amount of foam, as in Turkish culture a Turkish coffee without foam is not welcome. Having enough foam not only enriches the quality of the taste but it also helps the coffee stay warm for longer.

To the Turkish, coffee is more than just a beverage. Of course people enjoy a cup of coffee over conversation, but it also symbolises friendship and is used as a tool for fortune telling. After the coffee has been drank, the grounds left in the cup are used for telling fortunes. The cup is covered with a saucer, then you must make your wish. The cup is then turned over and the thick layer of grounds then form shapes. Once the cup has cooled down, the shapes are then interpreted.

Coffee also acts as a great antioxidant as it comes with many health benefits. Coffee is able to help balance the level of cholesterol in the blood, it can help reduce the risk of cancer and it also acts as a painkiller against headaches.

A tradition when serving Turkish coffee is that a glass of water is served along side the cup. There are number of reasons as to why this is. The Turkish are very hospitbale and guests are very important, so out of politeness they have their guest drink first. If the guest drinks water before the coffee this could mean they are hungry so the host would then prepare them a meal. Another reason why water is served is that it can be used to cleanse the palate before and after drinking the coffee. History states that back in the Ottoman period water would be used to understand if the coffee that was given to the Sultan was in fact poisonous.   

An old Turkish tradition was that when a man came to see the family to ask the father's permisson to marry his daughter he was served salty Turkish coffee. Decades ago the tradition was that if the girl refused the marriage proposal she would pour lots of salt into the coffee to show that her answer was no. The tradition has changed over the years, but it is a must that the groom is to drink a cup of salty Turkish coffee during the ceremony.   

Another old Turkish tradition is that 'lokum' would be served along side the cup of Turkish coffee. The host could tell if the guest was happy if they ate the lokum. This tradition has faded and now Turkish coffee is served along with other types of treats like chocolate.  

The cooking and brewing method was discovered in the Ottoman period, making the coffee exclusive to these lands. In 2013 these unique brewing and cooking techniques put the traditional Turkish coffee onto 'UNESCO's Representative List of Intagible Cultural Heritage of Humanity'.

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