The Magic Journey of Turkish Coffee

4 December 2021
The Magic Journey of Turkish Coffee

Okan University Lecturer, Gastronomy Writer and Coffee Consultant Cenk R. Girginol talks about the adventure of Turkish coffee and the secrets of making good coffee on Turkish Coffee Day.

Written by Cenk Girginol

I used the words “magic journey” in the title. Because the story, which really started with the drinking of coffee as a beverage, completed the basic point of creating a culture rather than being just a beverage, and added new words to the spoken language, as if by magic.

Coffee was discovered in the land of present-day Ethiopia (then Abyssinia) around the 8th century. Coffee cherries, which are generally used in bread making and meals, were consumed as a beverage for the first time in Yemen in the 12th century. It is not a goat-shepherd story; the story started with Sheikh Shadhili, as evidenced by historical documents. Coffee, which was drunk by saying “Ya Allah” in the dhikr ceremonies of the Sufi sect, theoretically was included in the Ottoman lands with the conquest of Yemen in 1517. Ottoman Empire first met the coffee, brought to the palace by the Yemen Governor Özdemir Pasha in 1539, and we can say that the turning point in the Ottoman Empire was formed with the world’s first coffeehouse (Kivahan) opened in Tahtakale, Istanbul in 1554.

The Magic Journey Of Turkish Coffee

Why are coffeehouses so important? Because coffeehouses are the most important catalyst that brings us a result that includes the current cultural structure of Turkish coffee along with many of our cultural heritages. Through coffeehouses, people became more socialized, even criticized the state, and met their daily needs. Coffeehouses also acted as an employment agency. In addition, they were places where art movements came up and where traditional improvised theaters such as Hacivat-Karagöz were played. These are not enough to explain the influence of coffeehouses in social life.

Afterwards, Venice with Nurbanu Sultan is in the first place in spread of coffee to Europe. France and Hossohbet Nüktedan Süleyman Ağa with the magnificent story, which I will tell in detail in another article, and finally the coffee sacks left at the gates of Vienna after the Battle of Vienna in 1683. We can say that it is a coffee story that spreads in waves with the birth and progress of coffee in Europe and the world.

How did December 5 World Turkish Coffee Day come about? We can exactly say the opening of the world’s first coffeehouse, or the fact that coffee was born from these lands and spread to the world, and we can even give the titles of the oldest cooking method to the only coffee in the world cooked with ground coffee. However, it is a sad but true fact to say that our coffee is not very common in the world as in everything else. The Turkish Coffee Culture and Research Association continues to work to make Turkish coffee more widespread. For example, they have made applications for inclusion of Turkish coffee in the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List with the files they have prepared and the project they have carried out jointly with the Ministry of Culture. As a result of the evaluations of the UNESCO commission, Turkish coffee and culture were included in the Intangible Cultural Heritage List of UNESCO on 5 December 2013. Thus, coffee has been added to our other values ​​on the list, such as ahi order, Kırkpınar wrestling, Hacivat-Karagöz. More importantly, this cooking method has been registered in the name of Turkish coffee. For this reason, every year since that date, 5 December is celebrated as Turkish Coffee Day. Last year, the Mayor of Washington declared this special day together with Turkish coffee and published an official letter stating that it will be celebrated every year. It is a very important step for the world to accept reality and give importance to it.

The Magic Journey Of Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee is a ceremony… As I said above, it is not just a beverage. It is the leading role of the betrothal ceremonies, a test tool for grooms, but at the same time, it is a grief drink at funerals, on the other hand it is a pretext for conversation, on another side it is a psychological therapy with a fortune-telling, a session. Because it is a psychiatrist who says in every trouble that soon (üç vakte kadar) you will be relieved. It is a commodity that has brought words to our Turkish, such as brown (kahverengi) or breakfast (kahvaltı-kahve+altı). It is a cultural heritage that includes the respect and hospitality because it states that guests are hungry by first drinking the water served with it. It is a value that is the subject of manis, folk songs and riddles. That’s why we can easily say that Turkish coffee is not just a beverage….

Well, are we taking the right steps when making our Turkish coffee, especially at home? I would like to ask you to apply the issues that I will give details below, with a new package by paying attention to the smallest detail. Afterwards, I am sure that you will realize that you get a different taste than the coffee you drink before, and this difference will greatly increase the happiness you will get from that coffee.

The Magic Journey Of Turkish Coffee

Step one, buy bean coffee if you can. Ground coffee is more difficult to store. At the same time, coffee loses some of its volatile aromas during grinding. The time counter, which controls that flavor to be at its peak, starts to run backwards and the flavor continues to decrease every minute. Grinding the coffee, you buy, with a coffee grinder that you can find everywhere just before cooking (it should be at least 15 minutes before, but preferably just 1 minute before) will ensure that the flavor is at the highest level. Of course, it is very important that you buy the coffee bean as freshly roasted.

The second step is to buy as much coffee as you will consume for 1 week. After 1 week, the aroma and flavor structure of that coffee will decrease below the level we can say is correct. It will be enough to buy in packages of 100 gr on average. While storing, please do not empty the package into a jar or any box. It is the most common mistake. You make the coffee stale. After closing its package tightly with a clip, put the package in an airtight storage container and store it at room temperature in a dry place away from direct light and heat. Never put it in the refrigerator. We can say that this is an important step to get the right result from your coffee for 1 week. There is neither taste nor pleasure in stale coffee.

Third step, coffee is not made by rule of thumb. Please use scale. For 1 cup of Turkish coffee, you should use 7-7.5 gr (a full teaspoon) = 70-75 ml of clean drinking water at room temperature. While measuring the coffee with the cup in which you will measure the water, either weigh the coffee or add with certain measuring spoons so that the taste remains at the right point and the coffee does not become bitter.

The Magic Journey Of Turkish Coffee

In the fourth step, if you are making it in a coffee pot, use a copper coffee pot. Since it is the second element that conducts heat best with silver, the temperature must be homogeneous at every point of the coffee pot. First add your coffee and then your water into the coffee pot. My personal opinion, use a small coffee pot because controlling the foam and taste in larger coffee pots will not be successful. If you are going to use sugar after adding water and coffee, add sugar according to your desire and mix it well, preferably with a wooden spoon.

In the fifth step, put your well-mixed coffee on the stove at medium-low heat and never mix it on the stove again! This is also one of the most common mistakes. Your cooking time should be 2-2.5 minutes in an average 2-person coffee pot. You can adjust your flame power depending on this time.

In the sixth and last step, never boil your coffee! The coffee that reaches the boiling point burns, becomes bitter and loses its foam. As soon as your coffee starts to bubble at the top, take it off the stove, distribute it to your cups and complete your service.

You will see that the taste of the coffee you will prepare with these steps is much more aromatic than the coffees you have made before, and in the range of taste you will enjoy. Believe me, these little details greatly affect the taste and happiness you get from a cup of coffee.

The next? Moments full of happiness that you will adorn with a pleasant conversation with your loved one, your spouse, your friend, and perhaps you will bring fortune and abundance with fortune telling…

Remember: “Coffee brings happiness.”