July 7, 2010

Category Archives: Turkish coffee history

Turkish coffee history

For some, Turkish coffee is “more than a drink.”

There’s a great article up at I Was In Turkey by Umut about her experiences drinking Turkish coffee. Take a look!

I’m one of those people who likes to drink coffee as a first thing in the morning. Coffee is a like a wake up call, a morning pleasure, a working inspiration, a break from busy times, a reason to share and an indispensable taste for me…  But among my addiction for all kinds of coffee, there’s one special kind which is not only a drink but also a ritual. It’s not the kind of coffee that can be grabbed on the way to work but deserves a special time to enjoy it. It’s called “Turkish Coffee” and I’m in love with it!

Traditional Turkish Coffeehouses..

Turquoise Diaries  posted a great article about Traditional Turkish Coffeehouses. 

On my previous post there was a lovely photo of two men playing backgammon from Oytun Orgul. The photograph was taken in the Tahmis Coffeehouse in Gaziantep , a city in the south-eastern part of Turkey.


GD 654 (Small)

I have visited the very same coffeehouse couple years ago as most of the visitors of Gaziantep. Tahmis is a famous place as it was operated as a coffeehouse since 1903 by the members of the same family. During the Ottoman period, the building was known to built to supply income to the nearby lodge used by Mevlevi dervishes.

Read more about it on her website here. 

Shingirmingir, while exploring the role of gender in traditional Turkish coffee culture, lets us on to some interesting personal details about enjoying Turkish coffee. Check it out! 

In the old days Turkish girls used to be brought up to make perfect coffee with a perfect amount of foam on the top of the small cup. Turkish coffee is not only aesthetically pleasant, but it tastes heavenly, as well; at least when it is made pure and strong, almost bitter, and with no milk or sugar. Whether or not a girl was considered a catch was defined after the level of her skills for making coffee. Unfortunately my parents never taught me to make perfect Turkish coffee, but my father did teach me to enjoy it; when I was younger he always made me smell the coffee before he put it on. Mmm…smell, he would say and would take a deep breath and fill my lungs with the aroma.

Try the Tradition of Turkish Coffee and Taste the Difference

The Europeans got their first taste of Turkish Coffee from the Ottoman Turks, who brought coffee to the West. They were great coffee drinkers, both at home and in public houses, the forerunners of our cafs, which started to spring up across the Islamic countries. Turkish coffee became part of the Turks life known as the “Wine of Islam” and the “Milk of Chess Players and Thinkers”.
Turkish coffee is derived from the famous Arabica coffee bean, often the addition of the aromatic Cardamom spice is added to the coffee while it is being ground. Another method boils seeds with the coffee and lets them float to the top when served.
Traditionally Turkish Coffee has six levels of sweetness from ranging from very sweet to black. Sugar is not added to the coffee after it has been served. As the coffee begins to heat, it begins to foam. A rule of the traditional Turkish coffee ceremony states that if the foam is absent from the coffee, the host loses face. Turkish coffee is served hot from a special pot called a cezve.
In order to make your own brew of “Milk of Thinkers”, heat water in a pot, add coffee and sugar to taste. Bring to boil. Pour half of the coffee into demitasse cups and return the remaining coffee to the heat and bring back to boil. Spoon off the foam and gently place without stirring. You’ll need 1 1/2 cups of cold water, 4 teaspoons of strong dark roast coffee and about 4 teaspoons of sugar.
You can try adding cardamom if you like the taste. After some experimenting, you’ll have an almost authentic Turkish coffee.
Article was prepared by Nicholas Webb of www.allabout-coffee-beans.comwww.allabout-coffee-beans.com

Cafe Baum

coffee baumThe oldest coffee house in Europe beside the Parisian “Café Procope” is to be found in Leipzig, Germany. In 1694 Heinrich Schütze opened the “Coffe Baum” in 4 Kleine Fleischergasse and gave out free coffee.

Over the following three centuries, many notable personages met here and enjoyed the popular drink. Gottsched, Klinger, E. T. A. Hoffmann or Wagner were often seen going in and out. Goethe, Lessing, Bach and Grieg were also known to be guests there. In the Schumann Room situated on the ground floor, Robert Schumann would meet with friends at his regular table between 1828 and 1844. Revolutionaries such as Blum, Liebknecht and Bebel also made “Coffe Baum” their second living-room. In 1990 Helmut Kohl and Lothar de Maizière discussed the possibilities of reunification here.

The sandstone sculpture above the doorway to “Coffe Baum” is especially famous. An Ottoman offers cupid a cup of coffee. It symbolises the meeting of the Christian western world with the Islamic East. No other than Augustus the Strong was supposed to have donated this sculpture as way of saying thank you to the landlady, who had taken immaculate care of him.

One of the most important coffee museums’ worldwide is to be found on the third floor. Over 500 chosen exhibits from 300 years of Saxony’s coffee and cultural history are presented over 15 rooms.

What’s So Special About Turkish Coffee?

Copy of Se3t - 2 Cups 1 cezve

By Stephen Haworth
Caffeine is a drug, yes, but a very sweet one at that. It enhances the senses and uplifts the spirits. Coffee is, without a doubt, a culture unto itself. Used as a means to gather, laugh and debate. Coffee is a social beverage. Its roots are as storied and full as the roasts you may drink.
Within the borders of Turkey coffee has become an institution. It has its own culture complete with ritual and house of worship (coffeehouses). Turkish coffee, in particular may, without a doubt in most coffee lovers’ minds be the be all and end all of coffee. It was introduced to Turkey in the early to mid 1500’s, finding the first coffeehouse opening soon after.
Coffee came at a rather interesting time in Turkish history as it was geared more toward decadence than business. This gave way to many rituals. One of which was to brew the beans slowly over fifteen to twenty minutes in a copper coffee pot nestled among the embers of smoldering charcoal. The pot was removed frequently to prevent overheating. You can certainly tell the difference, if you are a coffee connoisseur, between Turkish coffee and your run of the mill modern day restaurant coffee.
The Turks believed in delicate brewing and all that was needed was a copper pot that came to a point, a teaspoon and something to heat it with. Water was always cold and the coffee fresh ground right before brewing. One thing that makes Turkish coffee so good, rich and special as that many would add cardamom and or sugar to the ground prior to brewing. Also unique is that the ingredients were added to the water instead of the water added to the ingredients. After all of the ingredients are added, they are stirred, spoon removed and pot placed on the heating source. No more stirring occurs and the pot is removed periodically to prevent the overheating mentioned earlier.
Identifying well prepared Turkish coffee is easy. It’s not too hot and has a thick foam resting comfortably on top and is free of any dark particles. In some circumstances, the coffee is brought to a boil and just before boiling over is removed the heat then replaced to do it all over again. This process is done two or three times and concentrates the coffee down. Cold water is served and drank before the coffee to cleanse the palette. Traditionally, the pastry known as Turkish Delight was served alongside the coffee and afterward you’re treated to mint liqueur.
Turkish coffee is special. Not because it tastes good, but because of the care and love that is put into the preparation and consumption of it. Coffee has a very special meaning to the Turkish people and to the culture of their land and that should be respected. The whole premise and life of coffee in Turkey gave way to all of the coffeehouses and coffee business that we partake in to this day from our Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts to your mom and pop Beatnik Coffee Dens. Without Turkish coffee, we would have no coffee at all.
Steve is a regular contributor to Coffee Maker Review an informational website for Coffee Maker ratings and reviews on the top brands including Bunn Coffee Makers and Senseo Coffee Makers

The heart seeks a friend: coffee is just an excuse.

In a fantastic Today’s Zaman article entitled, “There’s nothing like a cup of coffee!” Charlotte McPherson shares her personal history with Turkish coffee. 

McPherson shares the concern of many Turks: western imports in the arena of coffee simply do not match up to local favorites.

Often we think when the Western version of something has arrived in Turkey, it is the first and best of its kind. Coffee and coffeehouses are a good example of this. Everyone thinks Starbucks and Gloria Jean’s are the places to be, but the best coffeehouses in Europe are of Turkish descent. 
Have you ever visited Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi in the Spice Bazaar or in Kadıköy? If you like coffee, you will want to stand in front of this shop and inhale the aroma of the roasting coffee beans. 

She also talks about learning how to drink Turkish coffee, including not sipping the very bottom where the telve (grounds) sit. 

When I came to Turkey, I fell in love with Turkish coffee after I learned how to drink it properly; that is, not swallow the last sip! If you do you, get a mouthful of coffee grinds. I am probably not the only Westerner who has done this. I somehow managed to swallow the grind without making a face or letting my hostess know what I’d done. The glass of water your host gives you with the Turkish coffee is not really for washing down the grind, but it worked in my case. 

She also shares some of the mystique and cultural appreciation surrounding the history of Turkish coffee in Istanbul and beyond:  

You can find a wide variety of coffee shops alongside the traditional coffee houses. Don’t forget that Ottoman envoys introduced Turkish coffee to European capitals beginning in the mid 1500s.

If you have not visited the Pierre Loti Coffee House in the Eyüp district of İstanbul, you are missing more than a cup of coffee! Although it has changed hands many times over the years, it claims to be the oldest coffee house in Turkey. You may wonder why it is called Pierre Loti. After all, he is not a Turk! Wasn’t he a French poet? 

Finally,  McPherson concludes with a beautiful Turkish proverb about coffee drinking that really cuts to the chase:

My dad and aunt listened to me then they would share their problems and thoughts with each other. Sitting around the table sharing coffee and our thoughts helped us bond. Metin Soytürk shares this Turkish proverb: 

“The heart seeks neither coffee nor the coffee house

The heart seeks a friend: coffee is just an excuse.”