A BREW CULTURE

With a majestic history stretching years back, the art of preparing frothy Turkish coffee is a true skill



Published: Fri 11 Feb 2022, 12:00 AM

If you're a true coffee fan, you'll understand the thrill of finding the perfect cup. Turkish coffee is a terrific place to start if you're ready to branch out from your normal cup. Coffee has always played a significant part in Turkish culture and lifestyle, from the days of the Ottoman Empire. Throughout history, serving and drinking of coffee has had a significant impact on betrothal and gender norms, political and social interaction, prayer, and hospitality traditions. Despite the fact that many of the coffee rituals are no longer practiced in modern society, coffee still remains an important component of Turkish culture. Derived from the arabica bean and composed of a very fine grind, Turkish coffee has gained a large momentum across the world for its strong taste and unique techniques of preparation and service. But there's a lot more to its tale than just its exquisite flavour, so let's look at all there is to know about it, from what's in it to where to get the best Turkish coffee.

Coffee became renowned as the ‘milk of chess players and thinkers’ after it was first brought to Istanbul in 1555 by two Syrian businessmen. By the mid-17th century, Turkish coffee became a part of elaborate ceremonies involving the Ottoman court. The sultan's coffee was ceremoniously brewed and served by coffee makers with the assistance of almost forty attendants. In ancient times, ladies in the harem were given extensive training for the preparation of Turkish coffee. The taste of a woman's coffee would be used by prospective spouses to assess her worth. Even in the most contemporary homes, a formal coffee is given when a young man's family calls to ask a girl's parents for her hand in marriage.

Fortune Telling

In Türkiye, Turkish coffee cup reading is a widespread kind of fortune telling in which the shapes left by the coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup can indicate the person’s past and future. When a thick layer of grounds appears at the bottom of the cup after you've finished drinking the coffee, close the cup with the saucer, make a wish, and flip it over. The shapes it leaves on the edge of the cup can be read mostly by a Falcı (fortune teller), many of which can be found all throughout the city. Quite captivating!

UNESCO Heritage List

The famous Turkish coffee was placed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2013 due to its special preparation, brewing techniques, and rich communal tradition. The tradition itself has also been recognised 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 coffee’s social significance was also an important role in its inscription, with the beverage being offered at holidays and engagement rituals. The prominent coffee shops in Istanbul are always bustling with people. The robust flavor of the coffee, whether you enjoy it sade (without sugar) or şekerli (with sugar), the taste is not easily forgotten. Looking to try the best authentic Turkish coffee in Istanbul? Read on to find out!

Fazıl Bey’s Turkish Coffee — In the bustling Kadıköy Bazaar, Fazıl Bey's Turkish Coffee offers a traditional coffee experience. The popular business has been providing Istanbul residents with their daily hit of coffee since 1923. The cosy two-storey shop has shiny antique coffee machines that grind and roast its specialty brand. This café provides a broad variety of coffee flavors, including more experimental options with mastic or cardamom, along with melodious songs that embody the true essence of Turkish folk music.

Mandabatmaz — Mandabatmaz, located on a little side street in Beyoğlu, has a long history as a favorite spot in Istanbul to enjoy a cup of excellent Turkish coffee. Its name translates to ‘the buffalo will not sink’, referring to the extra foam on top of the coffee, which is considered to be an indicator of its good taste. The open kitchen allows an enticing aroma to pervade the little shop at all times. The café's characteristic brewing technique, which involves pouring hot water into the pan rather than cold, has been practiced since 1967.

Bebek Kahve — Bebek Kahve is a lovely café in the upscale Bebek neighborhood. The café, which has been open for nearly 65 years offers unrivaled views of the Bosphorus, and has drawn many customers. Because of its high-quality coffee and convenient location, you could be lucky enough to spot a celebrity! The coffee shop offers a laid-back vibe with wooden seats and modest décor. Order some eggs and crepes for breakfast, before kicking back with a cup of coffee to enjoy the view.

Ever wondered how this special beverage is made?

Turkish people have their own unique manner of preparing coffee that is nothing like your household coffee maker! They make coffee in a ‘cezve’, which is a special copper kettle. After they put two tea spoons of coffee to cezve, they add one cup of water. Then they stir it with a wooden spoon. The wooden spoon is said to preserve the coffee's rich flavour and wonderful aroma. To cook it slowly, they lay a bed of heated sand or warm coals. When the coffee is ready to drink, they pour it into special coffee cups.

Can’t make it to Türkiye? Worry not! This weekend why not get together with some friends and check out these places to experience true Turkish coffee?

• Mado

• Maras Turka Café

• Café Barbera

• Estekana Café

• Turkish steak restaurant and café


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