That Thick, Rich Taste of Brews
European countries developed their coffee brewing methods after deriving coffee drinking habit from the Turks; however, the method of brewing Turkish coffee has remained almost unchanged.
Derived from the Arabica bean and composed of a very fine grind, Turkish coffee has become famous all around the world for both its strong taste and its special methods of preparation and service.
History of Turkish Coffee
Coffee was first brought to Istanbul in 1555 by two Syrian traders, and by the mid-17th century, it became an essential part of the Ottoman Court’s elaborate ceremonies.
The sultan was served ceremoniously served coffee by his coffee makers, and this coffee ritual also played a role in marriage customs to an extent that women in the harem received thorough training regarding how the perfect brew was to be prepared.
As such, potential husbands would judge a woman by her Turkish coffee-making skills. Even today, when a prospective husband’s family asks for the girl’s parents for her hand in marriage, Turkish coffee is served by the bride-to-be.
How to Cook Turkish Coffee
Turkish coffee is prepared in a cezve, a special small pot with a long handle that is traditionally made of copper. For one cup of Turkish coffee, combine one cup of water (the size of the coffee cup) and two full teaspoons of coffee. Since sugar is never added after the coffee is cooked you have to add sugar into the cezve (two sugar cubes for very sweet, one for medium sweetness, and none for the ones that like it bitter).
Once the coffee comes to a boil, let the foam rise and take it off the heat right before it’s about to spill, and this will guarantee that the coffee will have lots of foam. Traditionally, Turkish coffee without foam is simply unacceptable. Serving the coffee with a glass of water (and something sweet, preferably Turkish Delight) is also part of the ritual.
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.
Best Place to Buy or Drink Turkish Coffee
For the best coffee in Istanbul, head to Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi in Eminönü near the Spice Bazaar, where you can enjoy a cup and also buy freshly-ground beans and pots to make it at home. This is Turkey’s most popular purveyor of Turkish coffee, whose products can be found in every supermarket or its flagship store in Eminönü where coffee is ground fresh on a daily basis.
When touring the Grand Bazaar, stop by the Fes Cafe for a modern presentation of this traditional drink. If a shop owner at the Bazaar offers you coffee, and you’ll find that many will, don’t hesitate to say yes. If you’re lucky, you might even get your fortune told.
Nuri Toplar (also in Eminönü and open since 1890) is another excellent choice and a bit of an insider’s tip.
If you’d rather someone prepare and serve you coffee, drop by Mandabatmaz in Taksim or Ethem Tezçakar (who only uses coffee from Nuri Toplar) in the Grand Bazaar for traditionally prepared and excellent Turkish coffee.
Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi Eminönü, Tahmis Sokak 66, Eminönü, Turkey, +90 212 511 42 62
Nuri Toplar Eminönü, Hasırcılar Cad. No: 39/41, Eminönü, Turkey, +90 212 522 0728
Mandabatmaz: İstiklal Cad./Olivia Geçidi 1/A, Beyoğlu, Turkey
Ethem Tezçakar: Akşemsettin, Halıcılar Cd. 61-63 Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey
Fes Cafe: Mollafenari Mh., Ali Baba Türbe Sokak No:25, Fatih, Turkey, Tel. +90 212 5281 613
Credits to: Home Turkey, Enjoy Istanbul, Elite World Hotel, Luxos, Pinterest and Flickr