It is said that coffee was brought to Turkey from Yemen during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, mastered and then gifted to the world from his grand palace.
Under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, coffee was given a new form of preparation, it’s art refined and the position of kahvecibaşı – the chief coffee maker was added to the palace staff register, creating a new fashionable drinking ritual for meetings with the Sultan.
The process of Turkish coffee making has seen little change over the centuries and stayed routed within the culture. So much so that in 2013 UNESCO placed Turkish Coffee onto the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’s list. Stating that the ‘’The tradition itself is a symbol of hospitality, friendship, refinement.’
Coffee in Turkey is much more than the drink itself, it’s the time spent together, the appreciation of friendship, of discussion and debate and hospitality from your hosts. Whether you’re a new bride in a Turkish family or just friends with Turkish neighbours you will be judged accordingly on how you serve and prepare Turkish coffee.
How do we make it then?
There are many ways it can be prepared for example, with ground, roasted beans either on a stovetop, hot sands or on a simmering open fire, the process is one which requires constant attention and patience.
Selecting and purchasing good coffee is the first important task. You can either buy the coffee beans and ground them yourself or buy the finely powdered coffee. Just be sure to check that the brand you’re buying is a popular choice. The pot or Cezve (jezveh) can be copper, aluminium, stainless steel or God forbid should you wish to be forever in the wrath of a Turkish Mother-in-Law, of the electric kettle variety. The easiest way is with an electric kettle however some Turks say the taste is not the same.
Coldwater is measured by the coffee cup, allowing one full cup of water and 1 heaped teaspoon of coffee powder per person, and requires the sugar, if used, to be added at this early stage. Some people prefer their coffee without sugar and some only use a quarter of a cube so be sure to ask before preparing! Using the lowest heat possible, place the cezve onto the heat source and stir the coffee until it is well combined, after this the coffee should not be stirred. Allow the coffee to boil on a high heat now until a froth forms on the top. Pour the watery coffee into the small cup and allow the froth to be spooned onto the top. Now you have the perfect Turkish coffee.
There’s a famous saying in Turkish that a coffee shared with a friend will create a friendship that will last longer than 40 years. ‘Bir kahvenin kırk yıl hatırı vardır’.