History of Turkish Coffee

History of Turkish Coffee

turkish coffee history


Turkish coffee brewing is perhaps one of the most ancient methods of coffee preparation. Turkish coffee or “kahve” as it is called in Turkey is brewed by cooking very finely ground coffee with  water and sugar depending on preferences in a special pot over heat. Turkish coffee is then served in a special coffee cup called fincan in Turkish. In Turkish Coffee Culture the coffee is also accompanied with some confectionery or a piece of Turkish delight which is called Lokum.


The History of Turkish Coffee – When did it Begin?


turkish coffee brewing history


There are innumerable theories about the origin of Turkish coffee. One popular opinion that it might be originated in the Ethiopian city of Kaffa.

Other Theories suggest that it might have been discovered in Yemen where it was known as “ qahwaw ” – meaning fitness’ or strength’ in Arabic. First records of Turkish coffee indicate that it can be traced back to some years before 1600, when coffee beans were introduced to Turkey.


History of Turkish Coffee – Version #1:


In 1593, Ozdemir Pasha, the Turkish Governor learned about a new beverage made of coffee beans in his region. He was so impressed with the beverage that he decided to serve this beverage which he brought from Yemen to Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent.


History of Turkish Coffee – Version #2:


In 1554, two men named Shams from Damascus and Hakam from Aleppo brought coffee beans to Turkey and opened coffee shops in Yemen.


The History of the Early Turkish coffee Brews



Even before the coffee beans were introduced to Turkey, it is known that the cuisine staff of the Sultan’s palace decided to experiment with a new technique of preparing the black coffee drink. To prepare a new beverage, they used mortars to ground roasted coffee beans and then boiled the obtained coffee powder with water in a special pot known as cezve.traditional turkish coffee equipment

This lead to the creation of a new coffee brewing method that became very popular in the palace from the very start. Although the elite mansions were the first to know about this new taste, it was only a matter of time until the general public of the Ottoman Empire soon discovered this delicious new drink.


Turkish Coffee Develops into a Business

early turkish coffee trade

Making Turkish Style coffee soon became a profession. People started opening coffee houses and started serving Turkish coffee along with other refreshments. Specialty Coffee makers known as “ kahveci usta ” were soon employed by the palace and governing authorities who held high ranks.

Coffee during this period of time was regarded very valuable. Coffee preparation was treated like a traditional event to guests. In fact, preparing coffee was such significance that it allowed a woman to divorce her husband if he failed them to provide them with their daily coffee needs.


History of Turkish coffee and Coffee Houses

traditional turkish coffee house in istanbul turkey

In 1554, when “Kaveh Kanes’ – the first coffee houses were set up in Istanbul, they initially became a meeting place to drink coffee. Most people who gathered in these coffee houses usually discussed about politics or local news. Coffee houses in Turkish coffee history also reveal that these places were also very popular for business meetings as well served as a place where people could play backgammon or chess. In addition, cultural events such as the traditional Karagoz shadow puppets, mimics, troubadours and instrumentalist became a common practice in Turkish coffeehouses.

In 1656, coffee houses were considered a threat to the empire. This was because strict laws for shutting down coffee houses were issued by Ottoman Grand Vizier Copula. He not only decided to make coffee drinking illegal, but also punish those who disobeyed the law by beating or drowning them. This act caused great shock among the people of the state.

Naturally, these laws failed to last long. People who gathered at the coffee houses started talking about the downfall of the Sultan and reacted to the riots in a negative way. Finally, the laws had to be abolished by the authorities. Heavy taxes were imposed on these coffee houses so that they provide an extra income to the state.


Turkish coffee Reaches Europe

turkish coffee in european history

Initially the Yemeni rulers who wanted to ensure that they maintain their monopoly on coffee in the world banned the export of coffee plants. Only boiled or roasted coffee beans that could to be used for plating were allowed to be exported. Anyone found guilty of stealing the plant was punished heavily. This was one of the primary reasons that explain that only Yemen and no other country were able to cultivate coffee for a very long time.

However, in 1600, many Turkish merchants traveled to Venice (one of the primary trading ports of Europe) to sell coffee beans. They later introduced coffee to England and gradually to other European countries. Although many are of the opinion that Turk kahvesi or Turkish coffee was named based on the nationality of the coffee traders, some of the latest opinions of expert of Turkish coffee history reveal that the name is derived from its preparing method.

In 1657, Sultan Mehmet IV gifted coffee beans to King Louis XIV. This gesture initiated the introduction of Turkish style coffee to the French society. This step played a crucial role in introducing coffee to the rich European countries.

In 1683, the Turkish troops during the battle of Austria happen to leave behind bags of coffee beans. The Austrians who discovered this new beverage developed it into a new blend. This event traced in the Turkish coffee history proves how important coffee was to soldiers at war.

By 1850, coffee became one of the most valuable commodities in Turkey. Documents in the Turkish coffee history show that many merchants in Europe had started trading coffee just as they were trading wheat.


Appearance of Turkish Delights in Turkish coffee History


turkish coffee with lokum


Traditionally, coffee was drunk without adding any sugar. Even today, drinking unsweetened coffee is labeled as drinking man’s coffee’ or country style’ coffee. However, people who found it difficult to drink coffee without sugar were offered a small sweet to overcome the bitter taste. Adding sugar in Turkish coffee soon started only after the practice of adding sugar in hot beverages became a trend. Today, Turkish coffee is offered to guests after they inform about the quantity of sugar they would prefer to have in their cup of coffee.



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