Turk Kahvesi

¨”One neither desires coffee nor a coffeehouse.
One desires to talk with others, coffee is but an excuse.”
A Turkish saying

Photo: Vera Kratochvil

Some cultures have mastered the art of socialization.  And what better way to socialize than over great coffee.  If you have never tried Turk Kahvesi than you’ve never really tried coffee at all.

Coffee has played an important role in Turkish society since the year 1555, when a couple of traders brought the beans from Syria.  Initially known as the “milk of chess players and thinkers,”  it quickly became a mainstay in Turkish society.  Coffee began to permeate the culture and tradition.  It played various roles in politics, betrothal, prayer, gender customs and in the entertainment of friends and loved ones.  Even today, locals and tourists flock into traditional cafes in Istanbul to experience Turk Kahvesi, which is often made by inserting the handcrafted cezve into hot sand.

A cezve is a special pot used by the Turk’s to do the brewing.    The beautiful container is traditionally made of copper or brass.  The 100% Arabica beans are ground into a fine powder while a small amount of cardamon is added for flavor.  Sugar can also be put in the water before brewing, however, most Turk’s do not drink it that way.  It is said that one must never let the water come to a boil or the brew will be worthless – basically burnt;  so do your homework before trying this one.  Many traditionalists brew the coffee over hot sand to keep the heat consistent throughout.

Photo: Christina

One of the beautiful aspects of making Turk Kahvesi is the slow nature of the process.  Yes, in fact, there is no electronic button to press while you head off into the shower.  It doesn’t yield 15 cups at once – but usually only one to two.  And it demands your utmost attention, because the heat must be controlled ever so slowly.  Yes, it takes patience, and a keen eye to keep it from burning over the open flame.  But I would compare it to a dance or a tranquil walk in the park.  Perhaps it’s the aroma of the fresh powdered coffee from a distant land that ignites my senses;  the chocolate colored creama that forms at the top of my cezve that transports me to a different era – when time seemed to move slower;  or the patiently waiting for the yield that helps me stop and gather my thoughts.

The process is soothing to the soul.  It can be used as a time of reflection.  I hope your next cup of coffee will be a Turk Kahvesi.  And remember that coffee is but an excuse – an excuse to gather and socialize with your friends and loved ones.  So break out the cezve today and try your hand at an age old tradition.  You won’t regret it



Reference:  TCF Turkish Culture foundation, Wikipedia