Turkish coffee

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Turkish coffee
Türk Kahvesi - Bakir Cezve.jpg
A cup of Turkish coffee, served from a copper cezve, in Turkey.
Type Coffee
Country of origin Turkey
Region of origin Ankara[citation needed]
Color Dark brown

Turkish coffee (Turkish: Türk kahvesi) is a method of preparing unfiltered coffee.[1][2]

Turkish coffee is an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Turkey confirmed by UNESCO.[3]


The earliest evidence of coffee drinking comes from 15th-century Yemen.[4] By the late 15th century and early 16th century, coffee had spread to Cairo and Mecca.[5][6] In the 1640s, the Ottoman Bosnian chronicler İbrahim Peçevi reported the opening of the first coffeehouse in Istanbul.

Name and variants[edit]

Turkish coffee served with cinnamon sticks
Turkish coffee and pepper grinders.

The word 'coffee' comes from the Arabic word قهوة qahwah. The importance of coffee in Turkish culture is evident in the words 'breakfast', kahvaltı, whose literal meaning is "before coffee" (kahve 'coffee' + altı 'under/before') and 'brown', kahverengi, whose literal meaning is, "the color of coffee".

The word for "coffeeshop" in Modern Standard Arabic is مقهى (maqha, literally meaning "place of coffee", plural, مقاهي maqahi(n)), but the more common term in colloquial Arabic is simply قهوة (qahwa), meaning "coffee" in much the same way as many Romance languages use café for both.


Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkish coffee is also called "Bosnian coffee" (Bosnian: bosanska kahva), which is made slightly differently from its Turkish counterpart. Another difference from the Turkish preparation is that when the water reaches its boiling point, a small amount is saved aside for later, usually in a coffee cup. Then, the coffee is added to the pot (džezva), and the remaining water in the cup is added to the pot. Everything is put back on the heat source to reach its boiling point again, which only takes a couple of seconds since the coffee is already very hot.[8] Coffee drinking in Bosnia is a traditional daily custom and plays an important role during social gatherings.

Czech Republic and Slovakia[edit]

Typical Czech or Slovak Turkish coffee made of ground coffee beans poured with boiling water.

A beverage called "turecká káva" or "turek" is also very popular in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, even if more sophisticated forms of coffee preparation (such as espresso) have become widespread in the last few decades, decreasing the popularity of turek. Cafés usually do not serve turek any more, in contrast to pubs and kiosks, but turek is still often served in households. The Czech and Slovak form of Turkish coffee is different from Turkish coffee in Turkey, the Arab world or Balkan countries, since cezve is not used. It is in fact the simplest possible method to make coffee: ground coffee is poured with boiling or almost boiling water. The weight of coffee and the volume of water depend only on the taste of the consumer. In recent years, genuine Turkish coffee made in a cezve (džezva in Czech) has also appeared, but Turkish coffee is still understood, in most cases, as described above.[9][10]


In Greece, Turkish coffee was formerly referred to simply as τούρκικος 'Turkish'. But political tensions with Turkey in the 1960s led to the political euphemism ελληνικός καφές 'Greek coffee',[11] which became even more popular after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974: "... Greek–Turkish relations at all levels became strained, τούρκικος καφές [Turkish coffee] became ελληνικός καφές [Greek coffee] by substitution of one Greek word for another while leaving the Arabic loan-word, for which there is no Greek equivalent, unchanged."[12]


Turkish weddings[edit]

As well as being an everyday beverage, Turkish coffee is also a part of the traditional Turkish wedding custom. As a prologue to marriage, the bridegroom's parents (in the lack of his father, his mother and an elderly member of his family) must visit the young girl's family to ask the hand of the bride-to-be and the blessings of her parents upon the upcoming marriage. During this meeting, the bride-to-be must prepare and serve Turkish coffee to the guests. For the groom's coffee, the bride-to-be sometimes uses salt instead of sugar to gauge his character. If the bridegroom drinks his coffee without any sign of displeasure, the bride-to-be assumes that the groom is good-tempered and patient. As the groom already comes as the demanding party to the girl's house, in fact it is the boy who is passing an exam and etiquette requires him to receive with all smiles this particular present from the girl, although in some parts of the country this may be considered as a lack of desire on the part of the girl for marriage with that candidate.[13]


Superstition says the grounds left after drinking Turkish coffee can be used for fortune-telling.[14] The cup is commonly turned over into the saucer to cool, and it is believed by some that the patterns of the coffee grounds can be used for a method of fortune telling known as tasseography (Turkish: kahve falı, Greek: καφεμαντεία, kafemanteia, Arabic: قراءة الفنجان‎‎, qira'at al-fenjaan, German: Kaffesatzlesen, Serbian: 'гледање у шољу, gledanje u šolju), or tasseomancy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Getting Your Buzz with Turkish coffee". ricksteves.com. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Brad Cohen. "BBC - Travel - The complicated culture of Bosnian coffee". bbc.com. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  3. ^ UNESCO - Intangible Heritage Section. "UNESCO Culture Sector - Intangible Heritage - 2003 Convention :". unesco.org. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  4. ^ Bonnie K. Bealer, Bennett Alan Weinberg, The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug, Routledge 2001. ISBN 0-415-92722-6, p. 3
  5. ^ Bealer and Weinberg, p.11
  6. ^ Alain Huetz de Lemps, "Colonial Beverages and the Consumption of Sugar" in Massimo Montanari, Jean Louis Flandrin, ed. Food: A Culinary History, p. 387
  7. ^ Quoted in Cemal Kafadar, "A History of Coffee", Economic History Congress XIII (Buenos Aires, 2002) full text
  8. ^ Cohen, Brad (2014-07-16). "The complicated culture of Bosnian coffee". BBC - Travel: Food & Drink. Retrieved 2014-07-24. 
  9. ^ LAZAROVÁ Daniela, Czech baristas compete in the art of coffee-making, Radio Prague, May 12, 2011.
  10. ^ Piccolo neexistuje, Turek.
  11. ^ George Mikes, Eureka!: Rummaging in Greece, 1965, p. 29: "Their chauvinism may sometimes take you a little aback. Now that they are quarrelling with the Turks over Cyprus, Turkish coffee has been renamed Greek coffee;..."
  12. ^ Robert Browning, Medieval and Modern Greek, 1983. ISBN 0-521-29978-0. p. 16
  13. ^ KÖSE, Nerin (nd). KULA OÜGÜN GELENEKLERi. Ege University.
  14. ^ Nissenbaum, Dion (20 July 2007). "Coffee grounds brewed trouble for Israeli fortuneteller". McClatchyDC. Retrieved 27 November 2014.