History of Turkish Coffee
The Turkish coffee was discovered in the Kaffa region of southern Ethiopia in the early 14th century. The researches about the Turkish coffee shows that the Turkish coffee has spread from southern Ethiopia to the whole world with its unique smell and taste.
There two version of story about origin of coffee in Turkey.
First one is sayinng that in 1554 two Syrian men named Hakam from Aleppo & Shams from Damascus moved to Istanbul bringing coffee beans to Turkey. They opened separate coffee shops in the commercial district of Tahtekale following the idea of Yemen’s shops.
Second version is saying that: Özdemir Pasha, who served as governor in Yemen in 1517, tasted this coffee and brought it to Istanbul and he made sure to bring it to the attention of the Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent.
The Sultan’s staff decided to try a new method for preparing the drink. They used mortars to finely ground the coffee and then brewed it using a special pot called an Ibrik. It was immediately a big hit in the palace and actually became an integral part of Turkish history and culture. The mansions of the elite were the first to get to try this great new beverage. Later it was consumed by the masses and eventually the whole Ottoman Empire.
It was soon being prepared by coffee professionals known as “Kahveci Usta”. They were employed by many palaces as well as by high ranking officials and wealthy citizens. Perhaps a prelude to modern day baristas. Many of these professionals also went on to open their own coffee houses serving Turkish coffee and other fine beverages.
The people adopted coffee as part of their custom, and it became a ritual, playing a significant role during marriage ceremonies. For this reason, women underwent thorough training to learn how to make a perfect brew.
What’s interesting is that this practice still holds today. When a prospective groom’s family visits the bride’s home to propose, the bride-to-be serves them Turkish coffee.
The bride-to-be sometimes uses salt, instead of sugar, when serving the groom’s coffee, in a bid to gauge his character. If the groom portrays no signs of irritation or displeasure, then the bride-to-be assumes her husband-to-be is a patient and good-tempered man.
Shutting down the coffee houses
In 1656 the Ottoman Grand Vizier Koprulu issued laws to shut down the coffee houses. This act came as a shock to the people of Turkey who frequented them. Punishment for breaking the law was extreme and ranged from beating to drowning. It was believed that they served as meeting places for discussing politics and even ways to take down the Sultan. Those in power viewed the coffee houses as a threat and tried to preemptively snuff out the flames of rebellion.
Spreading the coffee culture to Europe
In 1600 many Turkish merchants started selling coffee beans abroad. First they travel to Venice which was the major trading port of Europe. Later they introduce coffee to England and slowly to the other European countries. Coffee history indicates that the name “Turkish coffee” (“Türk kahvesi”) comes from the nationality of the coffee traders.
Today the experts of the Turkish coffee history believe that the name derives mostly from its preparing method.
In 1657 Sultan Mehmet IV visited France. Among other presents, he gave to King Louis XIV coffee beans. This gesture was the initial introduction of the French society to Turkish style coffee.
Turkish coffee history mentions this event as the first step to expand coffee to the rich European countries.
In 1683 during the battle of Austria the Turkish troops left some bags of coffee beans behind.The Austrians discovered the new beverage. They developed it to a new blend. This event is evidence of how important coffee was to even soldiers at war.
By 1850 coffee became as one of the most valuable commodities.
UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List
Turkish coffee’s special preparation, brewing techniques, and rich communal culture made it worthy of being inscribed in 2013 into UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List. The tradition itself has also been recognized as a symbol of hospitality and friendship, with locals meeting at coffeehouses to converse over coffee, or coffee being offered to visitors as a welcoming gesture. The beverage’s importance in social occasions was also an important factor in its inscription, with coffee being served during holidays and engagement ceremonies.