Coffee is the drink that connects, coffee is the drink that unites and relaxes. Many people will define what coffee means to them and in all instances they will be right since we all have a different reason as to why we enjoy the drink and how best we like it. Well the drink can be termed as being legendary and second to none since the olden days as can be interpreted from the various literal texts that date as early as the 3rd century.
With the advent of the modern technological and fast paced life, coffee has been seen as a cool down drink after a long and stressful day and many of the working class will attest to the drink being a savior of their lives since it helps them get over the daily cares of life.
But do we know about traditions practiced in other places with regards to partaking of the famed caffeinated beverage? Here we look at how the Turks treat their coffee as we talk about how to drink Turkish coffee.
Turkish coffee has been famed all through the world because of its quality and the precise method, in which it is prepared, served, drank and the traditions of fortune telling that are associated with drinking of the coffee whether with friends or family. It is not clear whether there is any special kind of variety when it comes to the coffee beans found in Turkey more so its capital Istanbul but one thing we do know is that Turks and people of Istanbul love their coffee and they take pride in it.
This pride that the Turks take in the drinking of this beverage has been the reason for the influx of visitors into the country’s capital Istanbul all with the core purpose of seeking to have a taste of this coffee and getting to know what is it that really makes this coffee so special and earns it so much praise around the world, The praise given to the Turkish coffee has even driven some people who were previously nondrinkers of coffee to know become avid drinkers of the beverage who have even graduated to being top notch experts on the beverage.
Therefore let’s look at what makes the Turkish coffee special and has it gain a lot of fame all through the world and has everyone wanting to taste it.
How to Prepare Turkish Coffee
What most people do not know about Turkish coffee is that when someone talks about how to drink Turkish coffee, they are actually referring to the process involved from preparing it up to the time when it is served and drank. That’s Turkish coffee 101 for you.
So how do we prepare Turkish coffee? First and foremost there are two types of coffee; Nescafé and traditional Türkkahvesi (sediment coffee) served in espresso cups. It is the traditional sediment coffee that is most famed and can be found in most restaurants, bars, coffee shops and homes while the Nescafe type of coffee is mostly served in high end outlets such as Starbucks which can be found in Istanbul.
Turkish coffee preparation is an art, a tradition that has been followed and passed over from generation till generation and even through the coming of technology may have altered a lot of things in the kitchen, and this has not been the case when it comes to preparation of Turkish coffee.
- To start with, the coffee beans needs to be finely ground to a point that it is almost like powder in order for its highest quality to be brought out once it is being cooked. There are special pots in which the Turkish coffee is prepared in and this is part of the hard core traditions that have been able to stick year after year and generation after generation. The special pot is referred to as ‘cezve’ which is a pot with a long handle that has been specifically designed for the purpose of preparing the bitter brew. You will also need a Turkish coffee cup known in the local dialect as ‘fincan’. Once you have these two plus water then you are good to go.
- Fill up the ‘fincan’ with water and pour it into the ‘cezve’, one ‘fincan’ is specifically meant for one person and so the number of ‘fincans’ of water will depend on the number of people that will be at the coffee serving and as per the traditions, the number of ‘fincans’ of water is not supposed to exceed neither be less than the number of people that are going to partake the coffee.
- Add spoonfuls of coffee (once again according to the number of people to partake the coffee just like we did with the ‘fincans’ of water) and some sugar to taste (either half or a full sugar cube per person). If it’s in a restaurant, the waiter will normally ask how much sugar you would like and the specifications are normally; ‘sade’- without sugar, ‘azsekerli’-a little sugar, ‘ortasekerli’-medium sugar or ‘coksekerli’-full sugar). A word of advice though would be to add sugar to Turkish coffee so as to make it delightful.
- Once you place all the ingredients in the ‘cezve’, stir well over medium-high heat and wait for it to boil till it starts forming froth and foam along the edges. When it starts to cook, the coffee will rise in the ‘cezve’ and the foam will come towards the middle.
- Once the foam starts to close on itself then it’s time to remove the coffee from the heat and pour part of the frothy bubbles into each cup of those that will be partaking the coffee. Each serving should have that froth and therefore you will need to keep placing the ‘cezve’ on the heat so as to let the froth and foam to come up again. This is necessary because each cup of Turkish coffee is usually judges by the head of its froth.
How to Drink Turkish Coffee
In Turkish setting whenever coffee is being drank, it is normally served alongside a small cup of water. The purpose of this coffee is to allow for one to refresh their taste buds before drinking the coffee. It is believed that water helps to refresh the taste buds and so one can enjoy the pure taste of the coffee without any corruption to their taste.
As one sips down their cup of coffee, you will notice that grounds of coffee remain in the bottom and one may be tempted to drink them alongside the coffee and thus clear the cup as is tradition with most of the day to day beverages that we drink. But for the Turkish coffee, the grounds are supposed and ought to remain at the bottoms they will be needed later after the coffee has been drunk.
The best experience of drinking Turkish coffee is when with a group of friends. The circle of intimate conversation usually lingers on long after the coffee is finished and thus serves to strengthen bonds between friends. The coffee drinking session also pairs well with sweets more so if it’s in the afternoon.
Fortune Telling Using Turkish Coffee Grounds
Turks take the coffee drinking sessions as the best moment to tell each other’s fortunes and it is also the main reason as to why we save the coffee grounds after we are through with our coffee. But before going into the fortune telling session, we need to prepare the coffee grounds for the purpose. A saucer is placed on the rim of the coffee cup and then the saucer and cup are moved in a circular motion three times as has been done since the tradition started (but in recent times and with modernity, this step is skipped at times)
From there on the next step is where the cup and the saucer are flipped over so that the cup is face down on the saucer. The cup ought to be completely cool before the act of flipping it to the right side up and at times as a way of helping to cool then cup a ring or ring may be placed on top of it. This is also believed to cats away any bad omens that may come around during the fortune telling session.
Once confirmed to have cooled, the cup is removed from the saucer and the grounds that the coffee drinker had left inside are inspected according to how they have run down. The fortune is told according to the pattern that is formed by the grounds.
One may ask and what if my friend or I am not skilled in fortune telling them how can I read the fortune or have the fortune read for me. Worry not, a ‘falcu’ or fortune teller can always be found in Istanbul more so in the coffee cafes where their services are most required. They can tell your fortune from the grounds and are skilled at it.
Where to Find Turkish Coffee
All that talk about Turkish coffee is sure to make your mouth salivate for a taste of this coffee and if you are like me, may be you wish to take part in the fortune telling session that accompanies the coffee drinking session. But where from you may ask, don’t worry we have you covered. The following is a list of places in Turkey where you are sure to get the best quality of this grade of coffee that has even been classified under the Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
- OkkahKahve in Besiktas
This coffee joint at the heart of the city of Besiktas serves as the best go to coffee restaurant for the adventurous breed of coffee lovers who would like to enjoy coffee while at the same time taking a trip. At the OkkahKahve, one can choose from a variety of coffee breeds available like the Adana and Hatay that happen to be darker than the common Turkish coffees and which do not act as a letdown when it comes to their amazing taste. One can also decide to try out Turkish coffee made with almonds or that has been spiced up with cardamom or the one that has a topping of a decadent dollop of ‘kaymak’ clotted cream. The ‘okkali’ order is a special type of order in which your coffee is served to you in larger size should you need a double.
- Mandabatmaz in Istanbul
This is a small outdoor coffee café in an alleyway off Istiklal Av. In Istanbul. The Turkish coffee master behind the establishment of this outdoor café is one CemilUsta whose coffee is famed all through Istanbul for being thick with a nice head of froth which meets the specifications of traditional Turkish coffee. The joint is a favorite for many people more so in the afternoon when many people are coming from their places of employment and heading home. Colleagues can be seen sharing tables and reading each other’s fortune while at the various tables in the café that is located on your way to Beyoglu. The Turkish coffee master at this joint, CemilUsta is also known to be a proficient fortune teller an therefore should you be a visitor that does not know the know-how of fortune telling, he will be more than willing to help.
- FazilBey’in TurkKhavesi
If one happens to be making round is the Asian neighborhood of Kadikoy and wishes to enjoy or have attest of a cup of Turkish coffee, then they need look no further than FazilBey which are two in the neighborhood but the most preferred one is the one near the fish bazaar which is described by many as being the best due to its charming and nostalgic décor. The joint has been able to stand out above all its other competitors despite the fact that the streets are lined up with other coffee shops. The main attraction of this coffee joint is that the coffee is always served with a piece of ‘lokum’which we can simply call a Turkish delight. As one sips there cup of coffee and converse, a large photo of Ataturk, the founder of modern day Turkey will be smiling at you all the time saying welcome once again.