The first mention of the coffee in history can be traced back to the 8th century BC, and linked to authors such as Homer as well as to Arabian folktales. Some records show the coffee plant was originally found in Ethiopia, from which it was exported to Yemen, sometimes in the 15th century, and made into the drink the world is familiar with nowadays. From Yemen it was transferred to Mecca, Cairo, and finally to Turkey, where the first coffee house was opened in Istanbul in the 16th century. This article will discuss the origin of Ottoman and Turkish coffee, and the difference between the Turkish and Ottoman coffee, as Ottoman Empire has an important place in Turkish history and tradition.

What is Ottoman coffee?

According to legends, the possibility of using coffee as a drink was first discovered by Hassan Sazeli, who was a sheikh. He boiled the coffee beans during his trip to Mecca in the 13th century. A lot of coffee salesmen considered the sheihk their patron, and in the last decades of the Ottoman Empire, many coffee houses had writings and banners mentioning the sheikh’s name.

It is often said the Turks invented the coffee as it is known today. Once the coffee reached Istanbul (at the time called Constantinople) around the 16th century, Ottomans discovered a new method of brewing. By using the fire, they first roasted the coffee beans, then ground them and finally boiled them. The Ottomans named this drink kahve. Coffee arrived to Turkey during the reign of the ruler Suleiman the Magnificent, and the legend has it the Sultan’s wife drank her coffee with a glass of water and some Turkish delights, and the coffee is still served that way in Turkey today.

By the mid-16th century, coffee was banned due to its stimulating nature, and fatwa was issued against drinking coffee. Ships carrying the coffee beans into the port would drop the cargo into the sea. The ban was, however, ignored by most of the people, and they continued to brew the coffee. By the end of the century, the official ban was lifted.

In the 17th century, Turks started exporting coffee all around Europe. Coffee was introduced to the Parisian court, where Louis XIV was the ruler, as well as to England. During the 17th century, many things originating from Turkey were popular in Europe, such as baths and certain types of flowers, and coffee was just as well received.

So, Ottoman coffee was the coffee discovered and prepared during the period of Ottoman empire, and it was the ruling class’ favorite drink at the time. During the rule of the Ottoman Empire, coffee has been prepared the same way for hundreds of years, in Turkey, but also in Arabian countries, the Middle East, Greece, Northern Africa and the Balkans.

The Arabic coffee, also called qahva, is cooked in almost the same way, but using heavily roasted beans and adding spices. Lebanese, Egyptian or Syrian coffee is very similar to Turkish coffee in terms of preparation, serving and flavor.

Coffeehouses were common in the Ottoman period, and coffee was cooked with large teapots (cezve) in coffee houses. The coffee houses were also used for reading and holding meetings and conversations, and the first coffeehouse in the Ottoman Empire was opened in Tahtakale.

What is Turkish coffee?

Turkish coffee is an old traditional method of preparing coffee that has survived from the period of Ottoman Empire, it is made by using finely ground roasted beans without filtering them. Different types of beans can be used for making Turkish coffee, such as arabica, which are the most commonly used beans, but also robusta beans or a blend. The mixture of coffee, water and usually sugar is brought to boil in a specialized pot called cezve (sometimes also called ibrik). When the mixture begins to froth, to avod boiling over, the pot is removed from the oven. The mixture can also be shortly reheated a couple of more times to reach the desired froth, as Turkish coffee is also famous for its signature foam on top. Some people pour a third of the mixture to individual cups, while the remaining liquid is placed back on the oven and distributed to the cups as soon as it boils.

Turkish coffee, unlike instant, American or Italian coffee, contains coffee grounds and is made by adding water and slowly boiling the mixture. Small coffee grounds are not filtered out of the drinks but are instead consumed with the coffee, which makes the taste a bit stronger compared to most other types of coffee, and its caffeine level is higher. Espresso has even higher level of caffeine than Turkish coffee.

Turkish coffee is the only type of coffee prepared by boiling the mixture until it froths, and adding the sugar before the boiling process. It is also the only type of coffee (a method of making coffee) cooked in a steel pot called cezve, and served in a specialized coffee cup called finjan, often with some traditional Turkish sweets, such as a lokum, on the tray.

In comparison to, for example, espresso, both Turkish coffee and espresso have a stronger aroma and higher percentage of caffeine than regular instant coffee. Turkish coffee is, however, unfiltered and the roasted coffee beans are consumed along with the mixture.

Turkish coffee is often served in a traditional tray, and poured from cezve into standard size Turkish cups called finjan, along with some Turkish delights such as rahat lokum (or simply called lokum) or chocolate, and a glass of water that will make it easier for the person to clear their throat before enjoying the coffee. Once they finish their cup, some people tend to turn the cup upside down on the small plate; it is called fal, or a type of fortune-telling (or simply fun activity) based on the marks and shapes the coffee grounds leave inside the empty cup.

Turkish coffee has many unique benefits, a lot of them related to health, and part of the reason is related to the fact Turkish coffee has a highly concentrated dose of caffeine. Caffeine, in general, as a natural stimulant can improve mental and physical performance, and studies show that athletes who were on a caffeinated Turkish coffee diet experienced significant positive differences in performance connected to energy level and the reflexes.

Coffee arrived to Turkey during the rule of the Ottoman empire and remained a permanent part of Turkish culture, and it was favored and consumed in the past as it is today.

Leave a Reply