Turkish Coffee Culture and Tradition: The Ultimate Legacy of 100s Years!

Turkish coffee is a bit more than just a simple drink, it’s part of a rich cultural heritage that has been enjoyed for hundreds of years. According to historians, the first coffee shop appeared in Istanbul (then Constantinople) in 1554. Coffee was brought to Turkey from Yemen by travelers and Arab soldiers. The Ottoman Empire was a dominant force in the region at the time, and saw coffee as a gift from Allah, hence its popularity and status as a staple in Turkish society.

Why Turkish Coffee Culture and Tradition is so Significant?

Traditionally, Turkish coffee has been prepared and brewed using a variety of special preparations and techniques as well as combining a rich cultural tradition. 

Tradition itself is a mark of hospitality, friendship, refinement and entertainment woven into the very fabric that permeates everyone’s life. A coffee date between friends provides a time for informal conversation, which enables the sharing of daily concerns as well as the exchange of ideas. 

It is also customary for Turkish coffee to be served at social occasions, such as wedding ceremonies and holidays. On these occasions, its knowledge and rituals are passed on on an informal level by family members through direct observation and participation. 

A person’s fortune is often revealed by the grounds left in an empty cup. Turkish coffee is celebrated in literature and music; it is an essential part of ceremonial occasions and is regarded as part of Turkish cultural heritage.

How is Turkish coffee Traditionally Made?

There are two aspects that make the tradition unique. First, it has a particular taste. Secondly, it provides means towards socialization. The preparation and brewing techniques of Turkish coffee are highly refined and skilled. 

They are among the oldest methods of making coffee that are still used today. There are some historical reasons for the development of special tools and silverware used in the preparation of coffee, such as the traditional boiling pot (cezve), coffee cup (fincan), mortars that have artistic value.

Because of Turkish Coffee’s preparation techniques which require time, quality and freshness, it leaves a long lasting taste on our palate for a very long time. Unlike other types of coffee, this type of coffee is softer, more aromatic, and more concentrated. Due to its unique aroma, ground and foam, it is easy to distinguish the product from other coffees.

What is Turkish coffee fortune telling?

Turkey is renowned for its coffee drinking and fortune telling traditions. This tradition belongs to the category of Tasseography.

Most Turkish coffee fortune readings are performed by professionals or friends who have some experience with it. Reading your own cup, however, does not bring good luck; it brings bad luck instead.

Turkish Coffee Fortune Telling: The Process

As soon as you have finished drinking your coffee, flip the cup upside-down on the saucer. In order to loosen the sediment in the upside-down cup and saucer, the fortune teller asks you to turn them three times clockwise or counterclockwise. To do all of this, you must think about what you wish to know.

A cup can be interpreted in many ways. Here are some examples:

  • A cup’s bottom symbolizes the past, its center represents the present, and its rim indicates the future.
  • Relationships are symbolized by the handle of a cup.
  • The section regarding money and wealth is near the handle of the cup.
  • For example, the coffee drinker on the left side of the handle represents the current situation.
  • Right after the section depicts future events.

What is Turkish coffee usually served with?

Even though the Turkish word for breakfast, kahvalt*, comes from a word that means “under coffee” (for example, something eaten before drinking coffee), tea is now most commonly associated with breakfast. The Turks are more likely to order a coffee in an afternoon break or after dinner to keep the conversation going (late-night caffeine does not seem to be an issue).

Coffee in Turkey is usually served with a sweet morsel on the side, such as lokum (Turkish delight). After the coffee has cooled slightly and the grounds have settled to the bottom, sip a bit of water to cleanse your palate. “Good to the last drop” isn’t the right motto for Turkish coffee, since it’s unfiltered – try it and you’ll end up with a mouthful of dirt.

Turkey’s most famous marriage custom: Coffee with salt

A custom and tradition of marriage in Turkey is that the bride adds more salt to the groom’s coffee. To express his love and appreciation for his bride, the groom must drink all up. By salting the coffee, the groom demonstrates his willingness to endure whatever comes out of his future bride. He presents a simple gift, such as roses, and an engagement ring to the bride.

Through the ages: Turkish coffee

Turkish coffee has always been a contentious issue. There are purists and non-traditionalists in every popular phenomenon, each adamant that the other is wrong for adding or omitting sugar, or arguing which sweet treat must accompany a cup of Turkish coffee.

Ottomans had their first taste of coffee while at war with the Mamluks in 1516, when they brought Cairo into their empire, along with their coffee culture. In three decades, Suleyman the Magnificent (an Ottoman sultan) would sit with his closest aides and discuss strategy over coffee. It was a sign of trust that he invited them to eat with him.

Clerics held opposing views on the value of coffee: some, like Ebussuud Efendi, banned its consumption, dumping bags of beans into the sea; others, like Ebu’l Hassan *azeli, encouraged worshippers to drink coffee during late-night services to help them pray harder.

According to legend, the first Viennese café was opened by the Ottoman Turks after they invaded Vienna during the Battle of Vienna. During the Battle of Vienna in 1683, a Polish spy named Jerzy Kulczycki provided key intelligence to the Austro-Hungarian army, and was offered his pick of the loot from the Ottomans. With knowledge of their popularity in Istanbul, he picked the bags of fresh coffee beans (which the Austrians had thought were food for the camels), and opened Zur Blauen Flasche, which became the template for coffee houses across Europe.

Fortunately, Sytmen contends, this isn’t an old story. According to him, the future of Turkish coffee is bright, and its heritage is now firmly a part of the national culture once again. This is in large part as a result of his advocacy.

Many Istanbul coffee houses make their coffee traditional ways – one of the city’s most famous, Mandabatmaz, translates to ‘a buffalo wouldn’t sink’, giving you a clear idea of how thick their beverage really is.

Now that young Turks love the stuff, as did their predecessors, so much so that they can read their fortunes in the leftover grounds (or even use an app to send them to an app to be read by a soothsayer).

Starbucks has been forced to brew in the traditional way in Turkey due to people’s devoted attachment to their cezve and fincan – it’s a mark of a remarkable coffee culture.
Take the time to enjoy a coffee and a friend the next time you’re in Istanbul, tired from the heat and in need of a break. Engage in one of the world’s most lively, historic, and unique coffee cultures.

Intangible Cultural Heritage List of UNESCO

In 2013, Unesco inscribed Turkish coffee onto its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage for its special preparation, brewing techniques, and rich communal culture. It has also been recognized as a sign of hospitality and friendship, with locals gathering at coffeehouses to talk over coffee, or coffee offered to visitors as a welcome gesture. A significant part of coffee’s inscription was its importance as a beverage of social occasions, including holidays, weddings, and engagement ceremonies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Turkish Coffee Pots are Made of Copper?

Gourmet professionals choose copper for cooking. Copper is considered the most effective conductor of heat. The main advantage is that it can be applied at a low to moderate temperature and still achieve excellent results.
Therefore, copper is the perfect material for the Turkish coffee pot known as “cezve” (“jezz-va”). The coffee maker you own can provide you with many years of enjoyment and service with very little care.

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