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Worldwide Gastronomy Habits & Trends

Coffee of Sultans: Turkish Coffee and Its Transition

ByZehra Er

Sep 9, 2021
coffee of sultans - turkish coffee

Turkish coffee is one of the oldest coffee preparation and cooking methods from the Ottoman Empire, ancestors of Turkish culture. It was known only in Turkish-Ottoman circles at the beginning but it quickly spread to international fields. It has a unique identity and tradition with its unique taste, foam, smell, and presentation style. Let’s take a look at the deep-rooted development of this flavor, known as the “Sultans’ coffee”, over the years.

First Encounter with Turkish Coffee

The entry of Turkish coffee into Turkish-Ottoman culture dates back to the 1500s. Ozdemir Pasha, the Yemen Governor of Sultan Suleiman, brings coffee from Yemen to the palace. The coffee, which started to cooking in a new way in the palace kitchen, gained the name “Turkish coffee”. This coffee was cooking in pots and coffee pots were served with delicacies such as Turkish delight, water, or sherbet.

Ottoman Turks brought the coffee to Istanbul and carefully served it to the sultan in the magnificent halls of the palace by the coffee masters with a staff of 40 people. The coffee, which won the sultan’s appreciation, became the favorite of the palace from that moment on. So much so that in the harem, concubines were taking proper coffee cooking lessons. This flavor left its mark on the social life of the period, with coffeehouses spreading rapidly throughout the city over time.

Besides these, Suleiman the Magnificent banned coffee for a while. The reason for this was that coffee causes idleness. After that, IV. Murad ordered the prohibition of the coffee a second time. The coffee drinkers were beaten as the first punishment, those who were caught a second time were thrown into the Bosphorus and drowned. But still, the number of people who came together to talk about the state administration and question were increasing. For this reason, the state banned and closed the coffee shops permanently until they realize the advantages that coffee brought.

coffee of sultans

A Coffee Tradition: Wedding Ceremonies

Turkish people have some traditions about Turkish Coffee. Before the wedding preparations, the bridegroom’s parents visits the bride’s family to ask the hand of the bride-to-be and the consent of the family for the marriage. In this meeting, the girl serves all guests Turkish Coffee as their wish except the bridegroom. She prepares her lover’s coffee with a little salt on it instead of sugar to test his character. If the bridegroom drinks his coffee without any displeasure, it means he is a patient and a true person for his lover. And salted Turkish coffee has another meaning in society. In arranged marriages, if the bride-to-be likes the man who arranged for her, she brings sweet coffee, and if she doesn’t, she brings salty coffee. People believe that it is the politest way to express her thoughts.

turkish coffee - coffee of sultans

Turkish Coffee In Fortune-Telling

It sounds interesting but fortune-telling with Turkish coffee is very common in Turkey. The grounds left after drinking the coffee used to tell people what awaits them in the future. For learning your fortune you should turn over your coffee cup into the saucer and wait for it to cool. After it cools, the fortune-tellers interpret the patterns on it

As a rumor, the origin of coffee fortune telling, an important part of this ritual, is based on the palace. The concubines were drinking Turkish coffee and tell each other fortunes both to chat and to gossip. This tradition, from past to present, also adapted to the rapid development of technology. It became a type of entertainment you can easily access almost every minute with applications such as virtual coffee fortune-telling. Virtual or online, there is a phrase in Turkey that you can hear from anyone “Don’t believe in fortune-telling but don’t stay without fortune-telling”.

fortune telling with turkish coffee

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