Turkish Coffee

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Coffee is an integral part of Turkish culture and customs since already the Ottoman days. Though coffee was brought to the Ottoman court by Arab traders, the Turks created a new way of preparing coffee, resulting in unique taste, smell and consistency. This drink became known as "Turkish coffee", or "Türk kahvesi". As it quickly attained a symbolic meaning in high society, various ceremonies were dedicated solely to preparing, serving and drinking coffee.

The traditions and ceremonies surrounding Turkish coffee are one of the oldest in the world. Coffee houses, which were important places for socializing for both men and women during the Ottoman period, still exist today, continuing their role in society as meeting places. In the present day some women still learn to make coffee at a very early age - in the old days wives were sometimes chosen based on their ability to prepare and serve Turkish coffee.

A Turkish proverb says that “Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love”. Turkish coffee is prepared in a special way using a small pot called "cezve". Water is poured into the pot, after which finely ground beans with optional spices and sugar are added. The mixture is then slowly heated several times up to boiling point and poured into small cups. Special attention is paid to preserve foam on the surface of the coffee: according to tradition, if there is no foam, the coffee was not well done.

Before drinking the coffee, water is drunk to purify the mouth from all other tastes and to prepare it for the richness of the coffee. Turkish coffee is drunk very hot and often after the meal because it is known to help the digestive process. It is also known to have anti-carcinogenic effects.

A rather exciting part of Turkish coffee drinking tradition follows after the drink is finished - the "fal" ceremony. The finished cup is turned upside down on the saucer and left to cool. This way the remaining coffee grounds flow downwards along the sides of the cup, leaving a pattern inside. The cups are then read, often by the hostess, to divine the future.

Sandra Vokk