The Finest Form of Coffee

Coffee ranks as one of the most (legally) traded commodity around the world and it has been a part of our daily life for centuries.

Although there are many theories about how the coffee plant was discovered and when and how the first coffee beverage was prepared and served, the most common and one, I personally find the most amusing is about a shepherd called Khaldi who lived in Yemen.

Khaldi was herding his goats and one day he noticed that goats ate the cherry of a plant, his goats started to act bizarre and more vigorously. He then collected this fruit and hence started the astonishing history of coffee for humankind.

Coffee Plant. Source: Getty Images / passion4nature

After many years of possible experimentation on how to prepare, how to drink, how to serve, coffee nowadays is a building block of our social lives. We get together for a “cup of joe”, brew a large batch for the whole office or ceremonially serve coffee as a tradition, or as a salty ambush to the groom-to-be when asking for the hand of his bride-to-be, which is believed to show the resilience of the groom (the ‘salty ambush’ tradition is the ritual that bride-to-be brews Turkish coffee for all the guests, showing her ability in the kitchen as she puts heavy salt in the groom-to-be’s cup, which shows his resilience against challenges in the upcoming marriage.)

The term “Turkish coffee” refers to a brewing method rather than the origin of coffee, since coffee can only grow and bloom in lands with tropical climate around equator. First encounter of the Turks dates back to 16th Century when Selim the Grim (Selim I, reign 1512-1520) conquered Egypt and the first coffeehouse opened in the Ottoman Empire in 1555 under the rule of Suleiman the Magnificent (Suleiman I, reign 1520-1566). Coffeehouses quickly became a distinctive part of the culture of the Ottoman Empire, brought communities for educational, social and entertainment activity, and political activities as well as for religious and spiritual conversations of Sufi dervishes.

Ottoman miniature of a Meddah (storyteller) performing at a coffeehouse

To this day, Turkish coffee still remains as a recreational activity and a ritual in people’s lives for socialization, relief and escape; a traditional habit. Turkish coffee is a symbol of intimacy and kindness among people as stated in a Turkish proverb:

“The heart longs neither coffee nor coffeehouse.

The heart longs a friendly conversation, coffee’s an excuse.”

Turkish coffee is a brewing method discovered by the Turks, hence gets its name, in which the roasted coffee beans plucked from the coffee cherry is grinded very fine, finer than espresso grind, and brewed in a special copper pot with a long handle called “Cezve” on fire, stove or sand. It is the only coffee beverage served with its sediments called “Telve” which paved the way to fortune telling tradition in the Turkish culture.

The “Cezve” and an “eye” in telve at the bottom of a Turkish coffee cup

References

Yılmaz, Birsen; Acar Tek, Nilüfer; Sözlü, Saniye, Turkish cultural heritage: a cup of coffee, Journal of Ethnic Foods, Volume 4, Issue 4, 2017, Pages 213-220, ISSN 2352-6181.

Küçükkömürler, Saime; Özgen, Leyla, Coffee and Turkish Coffee Culture, Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, Volume 8, Issue 10, 2009, Pages 1693-1700, ISSN 1680-5194.

Argan, Metin; Akyıldız, Müge; Özdemir, Burcu; Baş, Avşar; Akkuş, Ece, Leisure Aspects of Turkish Coffee Consumption Ritualts: An Exploratory Qualitative Study, International Journal of Health and Economic Development, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2015, Pages 26-36.

Gönül Ne Kahve İster Ne Kahvehane, Gönül Muhabbet İster Kahve Bahane. (2018). Apelasyon.org. https://apelasyon.com/yazi/52/gonul-ne-kahve-ister-ne-kahvehane-gonul-muhabbet-ister-kahve-bahane

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, July 18). Ottoman coffeehouse. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_coffeehouse

Özeren, M. M. (2018, July 19). Coffeehouses in Ottoman society. Daily Sabah. https://www.dailysabah.com/history/2018/07/20/coffeehouses-in-ottoman-society

Coffee Plant: Care and Growing Guide. (2021, August 17). The Spruce. https://www.thespruce.com/grow-coffee-plants-1902614Don’t Call it Turkish Coffee, Unless of course it is. (2013, April 27). NPR. https://choice.npr.org/index.html?origin=https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/04/27/179270924/dont-call-it-turkish-coffee-unless-of-course-it-is