Ever since it was brought to Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, Turkish coffee has had a significant place in the Turkish culture. It gained a place in the palace, weddings and meetings. Even though most of the ancient rituals are not present today, this delicious coffee variant is still consumed on many occasions and places in Turkey.

Ottoman Traditions About Coffee

In the 15th century, during the rule of Yavuz Sultan Selim, Özdemir Pasha brought the coffee he drank in Yemen to Istanbul. It quickly gained popularity in both the palace and the public. It gained such an important role in the Ottoman culture that your ability in making delicious coffee was seen as a criterion for certain roles. For example, the best coffee makers made coffee for the sultan, and both men and women socialized over coffee. Women were judged by their skill of making coffee, so much so that prospective brides were expected to prepare delicious coffee to the boy’s parents. They would then judge the woman based on the taste of her coffee. Women sometimes added salt to the coffee as a way of avoiding unwanted marriages, or as a joke. This is a tradition that is still going on today in Turkey.

Men played games and chatted in coffee houses. These coffee houses hosted shadow theatres and were popular attraction points in public. These coffee houses still exist today in Turkey, but they are much more varied in their role and quality. They can be cafes in which you can meet your friends and chat over a cup of Turkish coffee, or backstreet places in where elderly men play card games and backgammon.

When coffee first arrived in Ottoman Empire, people used to drink it in the morning for its stimulant properties. But since Turkish coffee is stronger than other coffees, this caused some people to feel uncomfortable. To prevent this, people ate a meal before drinking coffee in the morning and called it “kahve altı” (literally translated as “under the coffee”). These 2 words merged together throughout the years and formed the “kahvaltı” word, which became the word used for breakfast in Turkish.

Coffee Fortune Reading

Turkish coffee is prepared and served with the coffee ground inside, but people usually don’t drink the ground coffee left in the bottom of the cup. The tradition states that if you turn the cup upside down and wait, the symbols created by the coffee grounds can be used to read someone’s future. There were, and still are, expert fortune tellers that read these symbols and they are still popular as they were back in the day. Some people truly believe that these fortunes eventually come true, while some do it just for fun.

Traditional Way to Prepare Turkish Coffee

Traditionally, Turkish coffee is made in a special pot called cezve and heated in a pan filled with sand, which is heated over a flame. Also, coffee has to have foam on top. While more modern ways of making it exists, the best way to experience traditional Turkish coffee is through this method.

Nowadays, many ancient rituals including Turkish coffee has been lost. It is served with a cup of water and sometimes with a single Turkish delight. Plus, there are sweeter options for Turkish coffee as the classic one is usually completely black. But it still holds a significant place in Turkey’s culture, and it seems like it will stay that way for a long time.


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