Coffee in Turkey and How to Make Traditional Turkish Coffee
Let’s dive deeper to find the secret ingredient that makes Turkish coffee what it is.
There are two ancient versions of how coffee was first introduced in Turkey. To this day nobody really knows which is the correct answer and so it all remains a mystery.
One version says that the Ottoman governor at the time, named Ozdemir Pasa, discovered a drink that was extracted from coffee beans in the year of 1517. He introduced it to the Sultan at that time, Suleiman the Magnificent, and he loved it so much so he gave it the seal of approval.
The other version says that the coffee beverage was first introduced in 1554 by two traders from Syria. Their names were Shams and Hakam and they even opened a coffee shop that served drinks inside Turkey. Someway and somehow the drink was consumed by the Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, and he was the one coined the term “black drink,” which widely spread throughout the region of Turkey.
After the Sultan loved the drink so much, it became such a hit in all of Turkey and everyone else started making and drinking this unique coffee as well.
Turkey’s coffee culture
The coffee culture in Turkey is distinguished by two aspects: the unique flavor it possesses and its ability to spark a conversation as it was known to be a means of socialization. Coffee’s important role in starting conversations is traced back to the first coffee shops that ever opened in Instanbul. Even today, coffee shops are a huge part of the Turkish lifestyle. They are the places where people drink coffee, read, watch the news, socialize, and have conversations with others.
Traditional uses for coffee in turkey
Coffee isn’t just used traditionally for drinking purposes, but its impact bleeds into every part of Turkish tradition. It is said to be known that mostly all Turkish families practice tradition by handcrafting cups and pots used for drinking and making coffee. It is almost impossible to pass by a home in Turkey without seeing a coffee cup set!
Coffee also plays an instrumental role in marriage customs in Turkey as it's a sign of hospitality. It also became an important tradition to educate young women on how to prepare a proper cup of coffee to equip them for marriage. When the groom and the bride first meet, it is customary that the bride brews a cup of coffee to give to her future husband. On the second visit, with the groom’s whole family, they carefully observe how the future wife prepares, handles, and serves the coffee. Making great coffee can be used as a telltale sign of a good future wife.
In Turkish tradition, coffee also symbolize friendship. Typically, when special guests visit your home, it is customary for you to serve delicious coffee in special cups as a sign of honor. Also, inviting a friend over for coffee has a deeper connotation than one ought to think. In Turkey, it implies the need for an intimate talk or a deep, personal conversation.
How do Turkish people like to enjoy their coffee?
Turkish coffee is a refined and unique taste compared to the regular coffee many people are used to. It is made out of a fine ground coffee and instead of being filtered, it is boiled in a small pan along with some sugar and milk. This is not for everyone, but most people love to enjoy their cup of coffee with a sweet confectionary dessert known as Turkish delight.
Coffee in Turkey is seen as a delicacy and so it always served with a glass of water. Why? They believe that drinking the water in between sips of coffee helps to cleanse the palette and appreciate the richness and bold flavor of the coffee.
As apart of their manners, Turkish people also do not immediately drink the coffee after it has been served. There is sediment that has to settle to the bottom of the coffee; therefore, Turkish people like to wait for a little bit until they have their first sip.
Sometimes, Turkish people also love to add the well-known spice, cardamom, to their coffee for a boost of flavor and spice. Lastly, Turkish coffee must be served with foam at the top -- that’s the traditional way to drink it!
A few reasons to try Turkish coffee
1. Aids the digestive system
Turkish coffee is extremely high in antioxidants and caffeine, therefore when consumed, it can aid in correcting bowel movements.
2. Turkish coffee has beneficial compounds
Due to Turkish coffee not being filtered, it holds higher levels of the beneficial compounds naturally occurring in coffee beans. Coffee beans contain chlorogenic acids, also known as antioxidants, which have many health benefits such as reducing inflammation, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure levels.
3. Cardamom may have health benefits
Cardamom is a spice typically added into Turkish coffee that has natural, powerful antioxidants that help reduce inflammation.
How to make traditional Turkish Coffee
What will you need:
- A metal pot (also known as a cezve or ibrik)
- Grounded coffee: medium roasted and finely grounded. It has to be ultra-fine almost like a powder.
- Sugar (sugar is optional)
Instructions for 3 servings:
1. Add water, filling up to 3/4 of the cezve pot.
2. Add three teaspoons of sugar and let the sugar sink to the bottom without stirring.
3. Add three heaped teaspoon of coffee, or more according to your preference.
4. Place the pot on the stove on a low heat. Let it heat up for a minute or two and only then stir slowly.
5. Once the coffee comes to boil, remove the pot from the heat before it overflows. Spoon a little of the foam into each cup, before returning the pot to the stove.
6. Return to the stove. When the coffee froths up for the second time, remove the pot and pour the coffee, with the remaining froth, into the cups.
As we mentioned before, Turkish coffee is best served with a glass of water and drank from small ceramic cups.
Watch this video for more information.
Is coffee expensive in Turkey?
To give a short and sweet answer: no. coffee is not expensive in Turkey -- for the most part. On average, a cup of coffee in Turkey typically costs 4-5 liras (the Turkish currency), which is approximately translated into $0.58 - $0.73 cents in U.S. dollars. It really also depends on which area you are in to purchase your coffee, but in general, coffee is not super expensive in Turkey which is great news.
About instant coffee in Turkey
Instant coffee in Turkey has completely different connotations than it does anywhere else around the world. The stark difference between instant coffee in Turkey and the U.S. is that in the U.S. it is made from dehydrated coffee, whereas in Turkey, instant coffee referred to the traditional Turkish Coffee recipe and is simply made just from purely fine grounds.
Turkey’s definition of instant coffee isn’t anything near compromised flavors because one cup of Turkish instant coffee contains enough caffeine to keep you awake and alert all day. Turkish coffee is packed with a strong and unique flavor that tells a story of home.