A Saturday morning habit bordering on religious...roll out of bed,…
In the last five years I’ve witnessed an explosion of independent, non-Turkish style coffee houses in Istanbul, culminating in the extremely popular venue: Istanbul Coffee Festival, held at locations of architectural interest for the past 2 years. This well curated event brings together professionals and coffee lovers alike to sample single origin beans brewed in diverse ways, espresso, and locally made culinary delicacies. The event showcased a plethora of coffee brewing devices, gorgeous espresso machines, art displays, workshops, and live music.
However, not to worry, traditional Turkish coffee is not going anywhere…its just too exquisite. Having known Istanbul for some time, I think this third wave coffee culture is simply expanding on the city’s ancient (almost 400 years) love affair with coffee. The first coffeehouse in Constantinople was opened circa 1640 by Ottoman historian İbrahim Peçevi.
Turkish coffee is actually on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Turkish coffee integrates distinctive preparation and brewing techniques with a complex and shared ancient culture. The beans are ground to a fine powder, combined with cold water and sugar in a ratio of one spoonful of coffee, to one small demitasse cup plus one extra spoon for the pot. It is brewed slowly on a stove in a traditional cezve (if you’re a purist) to produce the desired foam. Typically this means bringing it to the barest of simmer once, taking it off the heat, and then bringing it up once more. The drink is served in small cups, accompanied by a glass of water, and is mainly drunk in coffeehouses where people meet to talk…(mostly politics) and read.
I prefer my Turkish coffee orta, which means medium sweet, and I like it best at Fazil Bey in Kadikoy, as they roast, grind, and brew their own beans to perfection. In the midst of neighborhoods rapidly receiving facelifts, rendering them virtually unrecognizable, this coffeehouse has remained unchanged in ten years.
The tradition of Turkish coffee itself is a symbol of goodwill, refinement, and pleasure that infuses all of society. Turkish coffee plays an important role on social occasions such as engagement ceremonies and holidays; its knowledge and rituals are transmitted informally by family members through observation and participation.
Turkish coffee is regarded as part of Turkish cultural heritage: it is celebrated in literature and songs, and is an indispensable part of ceremonial occasions.