In recent years, many restaurants, cafes and hotels have replaced Turkish coffee with coffee made by automatic machines. International coffee shop chains appeal to young people, making espressos more popular than Turkish coffee.
A group of people who love to drink coffee and are disturbed by the diminishing popularity of Turkish coffee set up the Turkish Coffee Culture and Research Foundation last year. The chairman of the foundation is Atom Damalı, its members include people who contribute a great deal to the sector such as Ahmet Örs, Mehmet Aksel, Merve Gürsel, Osman Serim, Semir Orcan and Ali Sözmen. The mission of the foundation is to set up a standard of how to make Turkish coffee and give it the global attention it deserves. The foundation is also planning to write a book and film a comprehensive documentary on Turkish coffee.
Where did Turkish coffee come from?
Coffee, which is a crop native to Ethiopia, spread to the Arabian Peninsula, especially Yemen, after the 11th century. In 1517, Yemen Governor Özdemir Pasha fell in love with the drink when he was introduced to it and brought it to İstanbul. But the Turks changed the method of preparing coffee by using copper vessels called güğüms and coffee pots called cezves. Coffee made through this method eventually became known as Turkish coffee. Coffeehouses, the first of which opened in Tahtakale and quickly spread across the city, introduced locals to Turkish coffee. Sipping coffee and listening to poetry, literature and recitations from books at coffeehouses became a popular social activity during that time. News of the delicious coffee spread to Europe -- and from there, to the rest of the world -- with Ottoman messengers and merchants and travelers passing through İstanbul. Initially, Turkish coffee was made without sugar. Instead, it was customary to eat or drink something sweet before or after drinking coffee. But today, Turkish coffee is made either plain or with different amounts of sugar depending on taste.
Where to drink Turkish coffee
Coffee pleasure by the poolside: Çorlulu Ali Paşa Medresesi is a historic location. Located on the tramway road in Beyazıt, the medrese is a popular venue for coffee and nargile addicts. It is a gathering place for college students and a frequent stop for retired people, local merchants and tourists. The medrese, which offers guests the opportunity to drink coffee under sycamore trees by a poolside, is open until 2:00 a.m. Guests can also visit the rug repair shop in the medrese.
Coffee with an amazing view: Located on the hills of Eyüp, with an amazing view of the Golden Horn, the Pierre Loti Cafe is a popular venue for those who want to escape the city. The cafe can be reached by walking up stairs passing through the cemetery located next to the Eyüp Sultan mosque. If you sit near the very front, you can see an amazing view of the Golden Horn before you and sip a delicious cup of coffee. The cafe gets its name from famous French author Pierre Loti, who lived between 1850 and 1923. As a naval officer, Loti came to Turkey in 1876 and stayed for a year. It was during that same year that he discovered the historical coffee on the hills of Eyüp. Ever since then, the cafe on that hill has been called Pierre Loti.
Coffee brewed in sand: A coffee shop operated by Oğuz Atalay located in the Grand Bazaar is the ideal place to sit down and relax after touring the bazaar. The coffee shop has been serving in the Grand Bazaar for almost 60 years and attracts people from all walks of life, especially tourists. Calligraphy and faded photographs attract people's attention. The famous coffee is heated in hot sand.
Coffee shop famous for its celebrities: One of the most popular places to drink coffee in İstanbul is a coffee shop right by the waterside next to the Bebek Mosque. It is frequented by figures from the media, art and cinema world. It is especially crowded during the summer. It is also a great venue for a weekend breakfast. Coffee addicts love the foamy coffee offered there. It is open every day between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
A beautiful coffee shop in Çengelköy: Çınaraltı Kahvesi is a special place where one can enjoy either tea or coffee while enjoying a breathtaking view of the Bosporus. Located in Üsküdar's Çengelköy neighborhood, the coffee shop gets it name from the historical sycamore tree (Çınar in Turkish) it was built under. It opens at 7:00 a.m. and continues to serve customers until midnight. Çınaraltı Kahvesi was used as a setting for Turkish television shows “Süper Babe” and “Çınaraltı.”
Taste Turkish coffee heated on coals: Nevi Cafe is located in Ayakapı. It was used as a police station during the Ottoman Empire and was later restored to its authentic character. Attracting customers with its view of the Golden Horn and fascinating decor, the cafe is especially popular for its Turkish coffee, which is heated on coals. A visit to the past and an amazing cup of coffee await guests at the cafe.
You can tell if coffee is good from its texture: Drinking coffee at Mandabatmaz is a tradition for Beyoğlu locals. One taste of their delicious coffee, and people can't stop going back to the shop, which is located on a narrow street behind Galatasaray Square in İstiklal. During the summer, there is generally a line of people waiting to find an empty plastic or wooden seat. A fan club has even been formed for Mandabatmaz, which offers outstanding Turkish coffee with exceptional texture and the right amount of foam.
A cup of coffee an excuse to enjoy beautiful Bosporus view: There is an amazing venue located at Rumelihisarı, offering a wonderful view of the Bosporus. Turkish coffee is heated over the stove. Known for its traditional Turkish coffee, Sade Kahve offers breakfast early in the morning and continues to serve customers until sunset. The shop is located in the Oduncubaşı seaside home of Ayla and Recep Aral.
Coffee break!: Another place that offers fantastic Turkish coffee is a shop called Gezi located right beside the Atatürk Cultural Center in Taksim. It is possible to see famous people there almost all the time. Attracting people with its handmade chocolates and desserts, the bakery offers dishes from both the Turkish and Ottoman kitchen. Gezi actually has four sections: a bakery, a cafe, a restaurant and a chocolaterie. One can find all kinds of desserts, meals, coffee, jams and organic goods at Gezi.
Coffee brewed right in the cup: A coffee shop called Şükrü Bey located in İzmir's Kemeraltı district is an ideal place for caffeine addicts in İzmir who would like to enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee. Şükrü Bey's coffee has made a name for itself throughout Turkey. The coffee is not brewed in a cezve, but directly in the cup. Ground coffee is placed in the cup and sugar and water are mixed in. The coffee is carefully heated over a low heat. Because this coffee is made in a unique way, it tastes and looks extraordinary.
How to prepare good Turkish coffee
Turkish coffee is brought to the boil three times. After it boils for the first time, the foam on the surface is removed. After it is boiled for a second time, the coffee has a more full and sweet taste, and after the third time the, coffee has a more bitter taste. For one cup of coffee, one full teaspoon of coffee is used (approximately 8 grams). For the freshest coffee, grind coffee beans immediately before use. Before placing the cezve on the stove, put in coffee and sugar and mix in a cup of cold water. For slightly sweet coffee, use one sugar cube (2-3 grams), for medium sweet, use two sugar cubes (4-5 grams) and for very sweet, use three sugar cubes (8-9 grams). Place the cezve over a low heat. Remove the foam that forms on the surface with a spoon, and place it in a cup. Return the cezve to the heat, and pour half the mixture into another cup just before it comes to a full boil. Return the cezve to the heat, and pour out the remaining half just before it comes to a full boil. Be careful not to bring the coffee to a full boil because this causes it to have a bitter and watery taste. Serve with a cup of water and a piece of Turkish delight (lokum). The water is consumed first to clear the throat and make sure that the only taste in the mouth is the taste of the coffee.
21 June 2009, Sunday
MURAT TOKAY İSTANBUL