A Brief Glimpse into the Anatolian Coffee Making Traditions

Have you ever heard of the saying “A cup of coffee has forty years of influence”? According to a legend,  a man offered a cup of coffee to a Greek captain. Forty years later, the coffee seller was imprisoned during war and the Greek captain who remembered him, thanks to that cup of coffee, saved him to return his favour.

In Anatolian regions, coffee culture is rather unusual as coffee is not only a morning drink to kickstart the day but a beloved beverage that accompanies social gatherings any time of the day and brings joy to all conversations.

The coffee was widely consumed by Persians, Egyptians, Syrians, and Turks by the 16th century. The Ottomans brought coffee to Constantinople, the capital city, and people loved it! Thus, cafes, where the customers could enjoy this drink, became a thing for the first time in history. Those communal cafes were known as qahveh khaneh, where people, mostly men, used to enjoy coffee and socialise. Apart from modern coffee shops, “qahveh khaneh” or “kahvehane” is still a popular place in many Anatolia regions, especially in small towns and villages.

The term “Turkish coffee” refers to a brewing method, rather than a particular type of coffee. This technique involves putting water and the coffee together in a copper pot which is known as “cezve, briki, ibrik” or “jezve”. The pot goes on the hob to boil. Once a dark foam builds up on the top, which will take a few minutes, the coffee is ready to pour into small coffee cups.

In Cyprus, where I grew up, coffee is appreciated any time of the day, and usually more than once. It starts with that one cup of coffee in the morning, then once more after lunch, one more to accompany the latest news, aka gossip, and before you realize it, you are drinking the 8th coffee of the day. Well, this is how it is in my family.

Having known Cypriot coffee, and tried Turkish, Greek and Arabic coffee, I can say that they are all very similar. In fact, Cypriot, Turkish and Greek coffee are identical.  Political disputes are one of the main reasons that there are different names for this coffee now. 

Arabic coffee slightly differs from others as it often involves spices and different sweetening ingredients. Armenian coffee is made and prepared in the same way. The only significant difference is according to many recipes on the internet, Armenians prefer to grind their coffee beans themselves. Kurdish coffee, similar to Arabic coffee, has a very nutty and creamy taste. “Menengic” coffee is the most popular one, it is widely adored by other countries. However, this coffee is caffeine-free! What makes it belong to this category is the Turkish coffee technique used to make the coffee.

REFERENCES

1. Birsen Yılmaz, Nilüfer Acar-Tek, Saniye Sözlü, “Turkish cultural heritage: a cup of coffee” ,

Journal of Ethnic Foods, Volume 4, Issue 4, 2017, Pages 213-220 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jef.2017.11.003.

2. https://spicerover.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/brief-history-of-the-coffee-house-culture-quick-look-at-what-makes-a-coffee-house-click/