Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Gift To The World

The journey of the coffee (Turkish: Kahve) assumed to be started in Ethiopia in the 3rd century. It appears to have originated in Abyssinnia. History tells us that other Africans of the same era fueled up on protein-rich coffee and animal-fat balls (primitive energy bars!) and unwond with wine from coffee-berry pulp. The leaves of so-called ''magical-fruit'' were boiled in water and the resulting concoction was thought to have medicical properties. As the fame of the coffee plant spread to other lands, its centuries-long voyage was about to being...

The drinking of coffee soon spread to Arabia most likely by Arab traders and by the end of 9th century, a drink known as qahwa (literally meaning ''that which prevents sleep'') was being made by boiling the beans. By the end of 13th century, coffee went to: India to North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Coffee was first cultivated in the Yemen area of Africa between 1250 and 1600 when extensive planting occured. It is said that no coffee seed sprouted outside Africa or Arabia until the 1600s. As a result of this, for many centuries, the Yemen served as the world's primary source of coffee.

The first coffee shop that is known to have opened was Kiv Han in Istanbul in 1475 after being introduced to Turkey two years early by the Ottoman Turks. In the middle of the 16th century, coffee was already drunk in Egypt, Syria, Persia and Turkey. Coffee shops were to be found in the cities of Medina, Cairo, Baghdad, Alexandria, Damas and Istanbul. Around the same time, Soliman the Magnificient's Turkish warriors introduced the drink to the inhabitants of the Balkans, Central Europe, Spain and North Africa. So, Istanbul has been the center of coffee trade between East and West for centuries.

However Western Europe had to wait for one more century to taste this wonderful flavor:) Because Europe's meeting with coffee coincides to 16th century in Turkey. In 1615 they got their first taste of coffee in 1615 when Venetian merchants who had become acquainted with the drink in Istanbul carried it back with them to Venice. At first, the beverage was sold on the street by lemonade vendors, but in 1645 the first coffeehouse opened in Italy.

Istanbul's passion for coffee has remained unchanged over the centuries. At the end of 18th century, the Italian writer Edmondo de Amicis wrote: ''There are coffeehouses at the summits of the Galata and Beyazit Towers, there are coffee vendors on the ferries, in government offices and Turkish baths -even in the markets. No matter where you are in Istanbul, all you have to do is yell ''Coffee Maker'' with nary a glance in any direction, and within three minutes you will be clutching a steaming cup of coffee. ''

Currently, the coffee industry provides employment for nearly 20 million people around the world. Alone in Brasil, there are five million people employed in the coffee industry working in three billion coffee plants. Every year four-hundred billion cups of coffee are consumed world wide which constitute the largest portfolio after the oil in the world stock markets.

Coffee and coffeehouse culture spread rapidly and soon became a part of Istanbul social life as coffee shops multiplied rapidly most of which overlooked stunning views of the City. People visits these coffee houses to talk, listen to music, play chess and other games, listen to the tales of wandering storytellers, and of course to drink coffee!

How to make a cup of Turkish coffee? Brewed by repeatedly heating a mixture of finely ground coffee beans, water and thde desired amount of sugar and cooked in typical Turkish coffeepot known as ''cezve'' that's seen above, so that it rises up in the pot and then sinks back down. The coffee is served in small tiny mini Turkish coffee cup called ''fincan'', as seen the cup from my kitchen above photo. By the way, one of my hobbies is about old (coffee/tea) cup collection, and wherever you are welcome to contact me for an exchange:) The coffee must be left to stand for a short time after serving to allow the grounds to settle at the bottom of the cup. It is customary to serve Turkish coffee with a glass of water as the water prepares the mouth for the coffee's flavour. In all, drinking coffee is a unique pleasure for Turks, and a never-ending tradition as well:)

A cup of Turkish coffee is endowed with a variety of important connotations for Turks: friendship, affection and sharing. An old famous saying that is ''A single cup of coffee can create a friendship that lasts for 40 years''. Turkish coffee is such an intrinsic part of Turkish culture that it has given its name to the word for breakfast, ''kahvalti'', which translates as ''before coffee'', and is drived from the words ''kahve'' (coffee) and ''alti'' (before).

Serving a cup of Turkish coffee is also a way of sealing a friendship. The preparation and care taken by a host in serving Turkish coffee to his guests is an important aspect of hospitality. It's traditional for a prospective bride to serve coffee to her suitor and his family when they come to ask for her hand in marriage. Accepting a cup of coffee is a source of pride to the person who offers it.

Facts about Turk kahvesi (English: Turkish coffee):

- The name given to a type of coffee whose preparation and brewing techniques were invented by the Turks.

- It is the world's oldest coffee brewing method: consists of foam, coffee and grouds.

- Remains on the plate longer than all other types of coffee thanks to its soft and velvety foam.

- The only coffee than can be boiled.

- A unique taste, aroma, froth, brewing technique and presentation... in other words it has got its own identity and tradition!

- Fantastic stuff Turkish coffee is made from high quality arabica coffee beans from Central America and Brasil that are blended and carefully roasted, then very finely ground.

- The only coffee that can be used to predict the future by using the coffee grounds which are left in the cup to cast fortunes.

A cup of delicious Turkish coffee is not only a coffee, but tells your fortune reading in the grounds. Not unbelievable? I assure you it's true, sometimes just for the enjoyment;) Nothing compares to long, friendly conversation over a cup of frothy Turkish coffee followed by having your fortune told:) Love, success, money, fortune. The art of reading coffee grounds is as old as coffee itself. Coffee fortune telling was born out of Turkish coffee and is an inseperable part of the pleasure and conversation associated with coffee. At the end of 17th century, when it became fashionable in Paris, then this ritual spread to Austria, Hungary and Germany.

How to coffee fortune telling? After the coffee is drunk, the cup is placed upside down on its saucer. The person whose fortune is to be read says ''Let my fortune match my state''. After the cup has thoroughly cooled, the fortuneteller examines the patterns formed by the grounds. A coffee inside seen above photo after I drunk my coffee last day. To my mother telling, as she's perfect on reading it but I'm not good enough:), it was a horse figure, can you see it in the cup above? Just the exact opposite of what you look in. A horse is a sign of wish. What wish(es) you have got, then it will become true that's believed. I confirmed my mother ''Yes, mom, how did you know? A very true comment as I've got wishes to become true and I cannot wait patiently''.

Here a few more signs and their meaning as follows:

~ Key

No.1 A sign of money. In the near future money is going to come your way.

No.2 A sign of success. You will work very hard and be rewarded with great success.

No.3 A sign of travel. May be a short or long trip. May also mean an investment.

No.4 A sign of happy marriage or the beginning of happy days within the family.

Right now badly in need of a good jolt of Turkish coffee, and I want to know what my fortune will whisper me for my wishes and expectations from the New Year 2008;)


  1. Very informative post. I'm a coffee drinker myself. A friend brought back a similar pot from Egypt and has prepared coffee for us in the method you describe as much as I can tell. I'm going to tell her about the fortunes. That will add to the enjoyment.


  2. nihal hanım tekrar merhaba
    yabancı arkadaşlara türkiye hakkında ne anlatmam gerekiosa hepsi burda:) türk kahvesi çok önemli kültürümüzde ama son yıllarda tüketimi azalmış bayramlarda hatırladığım bi içeçek özelliğinden çıkar umarım.. buarada afganistanın da kahvesi meşhur derler içtim ama kahvemiz gibisi yok

  3. F.C.Porto 2 ;))
    Besiktas JK 0 :(

    PS: Sorry, never drink coffee!

  4. i have had a couple of jolts of turkish coffee...loved the taste...the jolt...not so much...i have a decaf kind of stomach...the history of coffee was really interesting...thank you for sharing it...blessings, rebecca

  5. @ Darla: Great! Oh talking about fortunes? You know if it's a 'Turkish coffee' then it becomes possibile to predict the future by using the coffee grounds which are left in the cup as Turkish coffee is the onliest one to be used for fortune reading. If/when you need, then I'd gladly send you a package of Turkish coffee, let me know. Hope you enjoy your coffee having a lovely ''coffee time'' chat:)
    BTW, I'm a coffee lover as well, but honestly saying that I drink mostly italian coffees in my life, esp cappuccino and espresso, however not often Turkish coffee. Give my Smiling Hello for your friend:)

    @ Iz: Sadece Turkiye mi konustugum konu burda? Bence degil, ama nerdeyse ilgimi ceken her konuyu -is, tarih, hobi, bu essiz sehrimiz, dunya..- gibi burda yansitiyorum:) Bunlar arasinda ozellikle kultur konusu agir basiyor dogal olarak, cunku kultur hayatimda en deger verdigim konudur. Bizim kulturumuz ise bilirsin o kadar derin ve cok yonlu ki, zamanim el verdikce deginiyorum. Guzel yorumunu okuduktan sonra kendimi iyice Kultur Elcisi gibi hissettim, tesekkurler:)

    @ Gil: Porto plays very good not only last eve but every time in accordance to my 'poor' football tracks -as I do not like football exception UEFA and world cups:) and scored two goals, bravo for you Portugal:) I'm not disappointed because Besiktas was not good at the match -as always;) My favorite team in Turkey is Galatasaray, better than Besiktas. Another good team in Turkish football is Fenerbahce.

    BTW, yesterday night Fenerbahce wins to reach Champions League in the last 16 of the Champions with a 3-1 score over already eliminated CSKA Moscow. F/Bahce deserved the victory yesterday's match and retained its control even during difficult moments and got the win, oleeey:)
    Drawing for the matches to be scheduled on Dec 21st. Get ready, here we come;)

    Oh not a coffee drinker, is it? How do you manage to stay awake, lol;) If or when you happen to drink a cup of coffee then remember Turkey, as it is an indispensable gift to you all:)

    @ Rebecca: How nice to see that you tasted and loved the Traditonal Turkish coffee:) Tks for letting me know.

  6. i love turkish coffee and mint tea!! learned to drink it in northern africa, called 'khouah' usualy after dinner! i'm still enjoying it making it in a 'cesve' like your image here ;))
    the blue cup is gorgeous and i love the cloth underneath!
    the words that a fortune teller once said to me, after drinking my coffee, are still in my mind as well...
    thanks for remembering me nihal!

  7. @ Marita: Mint tea? Besides drinking, but I have also never heard that mint tea yet?! Let me say here that Turkish coffee is usually served together with a mint liqueur or a piece of Turkish Delight (called Lokum, a made-in-Turkey worldwide famous sweet).
    You too have an eye in detail like myself, Marita:) The table cloth under the blue coffee cup is a ribbon embroidery, hand-made in Far East, so nice and elegant.

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