Guide to Turkish Coffee Culture: history, role in society, recipe and best brands
Turkish coffee isn’t like your normal coffee. There are some aspects of the popular Turkish drink that make it different to the cup of Joe you regularly drink. Despite its differences, Turkish coffee is a beverage you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to try on a holiday in Turkey.
What makes Turkish coffee different than the coffee you typically drink is its texture. The Turkish variety is made up of finely ground Arabica beans. It has a strong taste and is high in caffeine. The way in which Turkish coffee is prepared is also unique. The preparation alone makes it worth ordering at a local Istanbul cafe.
The taste, caffeine content, and preparation of Turkish coffee are reasons to try this delicious beverage. Yet, they are not the only reasons to enjoy a cup at a nearby cafe.
Turkish Coffee History
Coffee arrived in Istanbul in 1555. It was brought to the city by Syrian traders, but it wasn’t until later that the drink became a regular part of the Ottoman Empire’s elaborate ceremonies. The sultan’s coffee makers would serve the drink to the court. The sultan was served coffee formally and the routine played a part in a variety of customs, including marriage.
Women were judged by their potential husbands on their coffee making abilities. Today, coffee still plays a role in marriage. A bride-to-be must make Turkish coffee for her suitor’s family before the proposal can be sealed.
The Tahtakale neighborhood, located in Eminönü, was the birthplace of coffeehouses in Istanbul. There, coffeehouses sprang up and became the center of life for men. Women weren’t allowed in the coffeehouses, making them a place for men to socialize, learn, and share information.
Turkish Coffee and Turkish Culture
Coffee in Turkey isn’t just a drink. It is part of a communal practice that brings people together. It is a true social event. Think of Turkish coffee like espresso in Italy or pubs in England, and you may get a sense of the cultural role Turkish coffee plays in society.
Coffee’s role in Turkish society can be traced back to the opening of Istanbul’s first coffeehouses. The coffeehouse became the place for people to socialize, share information, read books, talk, and, of course, drink coffee. It was like the Central Perk on Friends, but well ahead of its time.
The legendary Turkish proverb proclaims, “the memory of a cup of coffee lasts for 40 years”. The proverb reflects the importance of coffee in Turkish society.
Turkish Coffee Tradition (Türk Kahvesi)
All families and family members practice Turkish coffee traditions. Turkish coffee is regarded as one of the symbols of life in the country. It is something uniquely Turkish like hotdogs, baseball, and apple pie in the United States.
Turkish Coffee is part of the identity of Turkey and embedded in the country’s culture. This is why you will find coffeehouses all over Turkey from the biggest cities down to the smallest villages. The method of preparation for the beverage is taught and carried out by families and coffeehouses. Due to the coffee’s consumption around the Turkey, there is no need to advertise or promote it.
If you are invited to drink Turkish coffee at the home of a Turkish person, then you will be served the beverage in more elaborate cups. Guests are honored by hosts with special items for drinking coffee. Once again, this is part of the tradition of drinking Turkish coffee.
How to Make Turkish Coffee
You will need:
- Cold filtered water
- Turkish coffee
- A wide-bottomed pot, typically made of copper, known as a Cezve
- Turkish-style coffee cups
- Granulated sugar
Now to make the coffee:
- First, measure the amount of cold water for each cup. Do this by using the coffee cups you are going to use.
- Next, use a tablespoon of ground coffee for each cup. Add the sugar at the beginning, if you want sugar in your coffee. Stir the mixture to combine it in the Cezve. If guest does not want sugar, make that cup first. Once the cup is poured, place the pot back on the stove and add sugar for the remaining guests.
- When making the coffee, gently bring the mixture to a boil using medium heat. It should take three to four minutes. You need to keep a close watch on the coffee. Dark foam will build as the coffee heats up.
- Once the coffee nears boiling, remove some of the foam on top and place it in the coffee cups. It is customary to serve Turkish coffee with foam.
- When the coffee comes to a boil, pour half of it into the cups, on top of the foam. Place the coffee pot back on the stovetop. Boil it for an additional 10 to 15 seconds. Then, fill the cups to the top.
Turkish Coffee FAQs
Do Turkish people consume a lot of coffee?
Turkish coffee is extremely important to the country’s culture. It is seen as indispensable for Turkish people. Turkish coffee is seen as a way to socialize with others throughout the day.
What is so special about Turkish coffee?
It is rich in taste and highly caffeinated. The beverage is enjoyed in around the world in many countries. It is unfiltered, which provides a higher concentration of caffeine. This also provides other health benefits.
Why is Turkish coffee popular?
It is famous for its taste and caffeine level. However, Turkish coffee is also popular thanks to its role in Turkey’s culture and society.
Why is Turkish coffee served with water?
Turkish coffee is always served with water allowing the drinker to clear their palate.
Is Turkish coffee stronger than regular coffee?
Yes, it has a higher caffeine content. It is also boiled twice, making it thicker and sweeter. Turkish coffee has a less bitter flavor than other types of coffee.
Is Turkish coffee healthy?
It can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of chronic diseases just like other versions of coffee.
What is the difference between Turkish coffee and espresso?
Although espresso is finely ground, Turkish coffee is ground down into an even more fine powder. In addition, the caffeine content of Turkish coffee is higher than that of espresso.
Best Turkish Coffee Brands
Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi
It’s one of the best and most popular turkish coffee brand in Turkey. The family business was started in 1871 and since that time it became famous. Nowadays this brand has shops in 50 countries. This brand produces just turkish coffee.
You can buy coffee Mehmet Efendi in different shops in Turkey (Mogros, Carrefour and etc), but one of the most popular kiosk is located at the backside of Egypt Spice market in Eminonu.
The head office of this coffee brand is located in Ankara. The product is packed in cans so most of the tourists think that it is an instant coffee but it is not right. It’s well-roasted ground coffee with nice smell and great taste. The most popular type of drink of this brand is ground coffee with cardamom — Kocatepe Dibek
You can find coffee Kocatepe in different stores — Migros, Carrefour or А101.
The company was established in 2004 in Istanbul and started to sale not only different kinds of coffee but also sweets and chocolate. The products became very popular in short period of time and brand grew to a big network of coffeeshops in Turkey — the competitor to Starbucks.
You can buy the products of Kahve Dünyası in one of the coffee houses located all around Istanbul.
Hisar Kahve 1928
The first coffee shop was opened in 1928 in Izmir, Turkey. And it’s fare to say that coffee of this brand is really classic version of turkish coffee. So you can buy it to find out what is really türk kahvesi look like.
This coffee you can find in Migros, Carrefour and MacroCenter stores.
Mandabatmaz it’s historical coffee shop located in a small street near Istiklal. Here since 1967 the traditional turkish coffee was served.
The name of the coffee shop means that the coffee which made here has so dense foam that even buffalo can not drown, from turkish «manda» means buffalo and «batmaz» means not to drown.
Today this place is still open for visitors so you can try this special coffee here or buy some to prepare at home.
İbrahim Bey Türk Kahvesi
This brand produces turkish coffee for more than 20 years. There are a lot of different kinds of coffee from this brand — Ottoman coffee, double-roasted coffee, hazelnut and caramel coffee and vanilla coffee. So if you want to try some new taste of turkish coffee — Ibrahim Bey Türk Kahvesi is a solution.
Also, this brand produces espresso coffee with the name BLACK PEARL.
You can find turkish coffee of this brand in different shops and markets.