The Art of Turkish Coffee

Shireen Hussain
05 August, 2015

Drinking Turkish coffee is the oldest and most honored tradition in the country. It is a great excuse to socialize with friends and/or perk yourself up in the afternoon. But it is vastly different from the 'Tall, Non-fat Latte with Caramel Drizzle' you find at the many coffee shop chains. As a result of modern technological comforts, anyone can brew a cup of Turkish coffee at home or work. However, I am paying homage to the ritual-like act of brewing it and drinking it the time-honored way.

There is an art to preparing this rich and fragrant drink. Coffee beans (usually a medium roast) are finely ground to a powder like consistency in brass grinders.  These fine ground coffee beans are then placed in copper boiling pots with a hammered exterior, which are narrower at the top and have long handles. A very small teaspoon is used to mix the coffee with water and sugar (if preferred) over hot coals. The coffee pot is brought to a boil gradually and then taken off the heat. This step is repeated a few times to allow the flavor and aroma of the coffee to fully mature. The copper pot itself usually prepares enough coffee for two servings which ensures a fresh palatable taste every time. Many independently owned cafes in Istanbul still use this method of preparing coffee not only because it is preferred, but also because the meticulous preparation represents great history and tradition Turks are so proud of.

Traditionally, the coffee was served in small porcelain cups which didn't have handles but were instead placed within a larger metal cup with a handle, lid and saucer that encased the porcelain. These metal accessories were beautifully engraved with floral motifs. Nowadays, some cafes continue to serve coffee in a similar fashion. However, for the most part, it is commonly served in small porcelain cups and saucers with varying styles and colors of the infamous Iznik patterns. Accompanying the full bodied and ever so slightly aggressive cup of coffee, is a glass of water and a delightful piece of 'Lokum' (Turkish Delight ~ a fragrant piece of jelly served plain or filled with dried nuts or fruits).

The art of Turkish coffee doesn't end there. After a leisurely drink, in true Turkish fashion, someone will offer to read your cup. At any cafe, at any given time, if people are drinking Turkish coffee, you will undoubtably see someone at the table reading the coffee cups. The layer of coffee grounds left at the bottom of your cup provide for an interesting cup reading. The drinker flips the saucer and places it over the cup, while holding the cup and saucer firmly with both hands, moves it 3 times in a circular motion, then the drinker flips the cup and saucer towards themselves so that the cup is upside down on the saucer. The cup is then left to cool. Once ready, the cup is lifted to reveal patterns created by the coffee grounds and the reading begins. Images of different objects and animals are interpreted, secrets of the past are revealed and predictions of the future are made.

This blog post was originally shared on CrazyCurlyAdventures, then re-published on Atdaa with author's permission. 

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Shireen Hussain

Wanderer and a hopeless optimist. "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover" – Mark Twain.

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