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[Traditions and Customs]


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“A cup of coffee is remembered for 40 years” proverb is a saying that has been told since 16th century when the coffee was started to be used by the Turks.
We know that coffee was expanded in Arabic Peninsula, Egypt and India before Turkey. As a matter of fact coffee comes from the Arabic word “kahwa”. It is expected that this word was taken from the Kaffa region in Ethiopia where coffee has been produced. The first place that coffee was produced is Arabia. Coffee drinking habit which started at the south parts of Arabia and Yemen together with the coffee agriculture reached to Turkey in the 16th century by rapidly expanding towards west. There is some information that the coffee was first brought to Ottoman Empire by two Syrians who were named as Hükm and Şems. In other sources it was noted that coffee was brought to the Ottoman Empire in the period of Süleyman the Magnificent (1520-1566) (Kanuni Sultan Süleyman) by the Ethiopian Governor Özdemir Pasha. The first coffee house which was opened in Tahtakale drew attention not only the common people but also the literate segment at the university professors of Ottoman Empire at that period and Cadis (judges of Islamic canon law) level. The number of the coffee houses in Istanbul exceeded 600 during the Sultan Murat the Third. Coffee houses were generally built in nice places with good views as mansions and often had verandas. In these mansions it was seated all around and it was also served hubble bubble and pipe stem beside coffee. The old coffee houses turned to be centers where the man of letters and musicians come together in a short span of time. These coffee houses had been indispensable parts of social life in the Ottoman Empire.

However the place of the coffee in the palace was quite different needless to say. The job of preparing the Sultan’s coffee had been a very important task. The person who prepared the Sultan’s coffee was among the persons who were close to the Sultan and this job was accepted as a respectful job. Small stoves where coffee was made were placed as different locations in palaces, mansions and dervish lodges and the male servants were quested in these locations. In the magnificent halls of the palace coffee was served to the Sultan and quests by the coffee experts who were accompanied with 40 personnel and the concubines were trained for making proper coffee in the harem

In 1615 the Venetian merchants and in 1650 the Marseille merchants encountered with Turkish Coffee in the Ottoman Empire and caused Turkish Coffee to overspread worldwide. French novelist Pierre Loti had continuously visited coffee houses in consequence of his affection to coffee and Istanbul and today a coffee house in Eyüp which is the district that he loved most is called by his name. Pierre Loti Coffee established central role of the “Turkish style” cultural elements such as Turkish coffee, hospitality and to go to ask a girl’s wish in marriage.

The reason for calling such coffee as Turkish coffee is because of its cooking method. It became famous with Turkish coffee name since its coffee beans which are thinned by pulverizing or grinding is cooked in Turkish style. Turkish coffee is the coffee of which its taste remains in the mouth for the longest time. It is produced from high quality beans of “Arabica” type which is not grown in Turkey. It should be consumed immediately afterwards or packaged to preserve its aroma in order to save its excellent taste. The residues of Turkish coffee grounds remain at the bottom of the coffee cup and this residue as coffee grounds. The tradition of reading from coffee cup arises from such coffee grounds. The researches put forward that to tell fortune from reading from the coffee cup’s grounds is seen only in Turkish-Ottoman world

In the old times, the coffee was not sold as ready to drink as today, it was roasted in coffee pans when it was needed by being bought in green beans and was cooked quite freshly by being grinded in hand operated coffee mills. However, in some regions the coffee bean was pulverized in pounding mortars which were placed in the garden outside the kitchen and which were named as stone mortars in lieu of coffee mill. Kurukahveci (Dry Coffee Maker) Mehmet Efendi was the first man who presented to the market in packaged forms by roasting and grinding it and has been the brand mark of Turkish coffee.

In the old times the coffee was boiled in water ewers with handles and long spouts and was presented in big coffee cups without handle. The coffee cups were called as large coffee cup and the most delicious coffee was the slowly cooked one in the glowing coal of the brazier.

Drinking Turkish Coffee is a tradition on its own from the choice of coffee pots to its preparation at low heat, from pouring little by little to coffee pots to supping bit by bit with a ceremonial attention. The appliances and kitchen materials which are used in the stages of the Turkish coffee are in the richness that can form a museum. All of the long spouted water pitchers which are made from copper and brass, coffee pots, coffee cup covers and coffee hangers which are used to carry the cooked coffee have characteristic properties. In the old times the coffee cups were manufactured both in the workshops in İznik and Kütahya in the country and in the famous porcelain centers of Europe entirely in accordance with Turkish style and motifs. Some appliances and cooking materials such as cooling case, preservation box were made of wood and were decorated by carved designs. The embroidered, written coffee mills which are manufactured in Bursa and Istanbul are also famous.

A coffee which is good enough for a fiend should be cooked for 15-20 minutes over low flame and the coffee pot should be put at fire time and time again. A Turkish coffee without foam can not be thought howsoever it is cooked. In the old times Turkish coffee was generally cooked without adding sugar and before or after a sweet thing was eaten or drunken. Turkish delight was heading the list. Turkish coffee was generally prepared with among between women. There are over forty coffee cooking styles with the names such as without sugar, served with sugar brought in the saucer. Fragrant materials such as jasmine, ambergris, clove and cardamom were placed at the bottom of the coffee cups if the coffee was wished to carry a different and beautiful scent.

How to make Turkish Coffee?

Please, start the process by putting the drinking water which is measured by coffee cup into the coffee pot, it would be ideal for making coffee for a person at each time; this is easier as it eliminates the apportioning of the coffee foam. You should add two teaspoons coffee for each cup, and also two teaspoons of sugar if you wish medium sugar coffee. You should stir the coffee and the sugar at low heat carefully and thoroughly. After a little while apportion the swelling fame into coffee cups. Bring the remaining coffee to the one more boil and then pour into the coffee cups little by little. It is a tradition to give a glass of water at the side of coffee service. The water which is drunk prepares the mouth to the flavor of coffee. Liquor may also be served together with the coffee.

Turkish coffee is the coffee which is most favorable to health conditions from all aspects. There is not any adverse effect on health when it is drunk in dosage. 50 mg caffeine in one cup of coffee is discharged from body within a short time of period. It has a property which provides mental alertness and giving energy when it is drunk for more than one cup. It prevents gaining weight and heartburn/stomachburn by means of this property provided that not to be drunk with sugar.