A stroll through Istanbul’s bylanes reveals much about the city’s passionate relationship with coffee. The aroma emanating from quaint cafes attracts visitors from all directions. “Kahve, lütfen,” are the magic words that summon a new pour to your table. Coffee is one of the more leisurely activities available here; you can sit with a cup of coffee and read into the sunset, with no prying eyes to deter you from a peaceful evening. Additionally, this coffee culture allows you to immerse yourself in something more intangible – a tradition that has endured and thrived since the Ottoman Empire, when Turkish Coffee originated.
How Coffee Made Its Way To Turkey
Turkish coffee is intoxicating, robust, and unfiltered.
Arabia was the birthplace of coffee drinkers and coffee houses, which then made stops in Egypt and Persia before settling in the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century; Istanbul was the first city in the empire to open its doors to a coffeehouse. These spaces thrived during a period of intense educational, social, and political activity, providing opportunities for social interaction, even if they were restricted to men. The West adopted the coffeehouse culture as well, and it quickly spread throughout the world, making coffee an integral part of our daily lives.
How Turkish Coffee Is Prepared
Arabia was the first country to introduce coffee to the Ottoman Empire.
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According to a popular Turkish proverb, a Turkish coffee will imprint your mind for 40 years. I believe this to be true, as each copper cezve (pot) is a flavour and intensity powerhouse. Made by combining finely ground coffee beans and water, Turkish Coffee is frequently sweetened (When ordering Turkish Coffee, specify if you want it without sugar (Sade kahve, please).
Once the brew is complete, the coffee grinds are added to the cups, sinking to the bottom, leaving the coffee unfiltered and potent on top. As an integral part of Turkish culture, UNESCO recognised the traditional value of Turkish coffee in 2013 and added it to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Please, a cup of fortune-telling coffee
Fortune tellers forecast the future by analysing the streams of remaining ground coffee at the bottom of the cup.
Apart from its aroma and potency, what distinguishes Turkish coffee from its contemporaries is its ability to forecast the future. Does that sound enigmatic? It is actually a common practise in the country to peer into the future using the thick grounds left on the bottom of one’s cup. Are you having difficulty imagining? Millennials will recall Professor Trelawney’s Divination class in Harry Potter, in which she uses tea leaves to read the future. Something along those lines, but a little less foreboding, we hope. Turkish Coffee, even without the allure of fortune telling, will appeal to coffee connoisseurs who appreciate a good, fresh, strong cup of coffee.