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A cup of Coffe
BE IT A FRIENDLY CHAT OR A BUSINESS MEETING, THEY ALL GO BETTER WITH COFFEE. INDEED LIFE WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT IT. MADE FROM A TINY BEAN, COFFEE IS A BEVERAGE THAT STIMULATES THE HEART AND BRAIN, THAT BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER AND CEMENTS FRIENDSHIPS.
In fact, it’s unfair to term coffee a mere beverage. From the production and the roasting to the serving and drinking, coffee has its own rules and rituals. The discovery of this lovely black pearl that can take away tiredness and impart pleasure and happiness is the stuff of numerous legends. It is considered a pick-me-up beverage for its aroma and flavor and the vitality it imparts. So how much to you know about the story of coffee, one of the biggest businesses in the world after the oil industry, and its place in Turkish culture? Come, let us get to know coffee a little better.
STARTING OUT FROM YEMEN AND ETHIOPIA
Although diverse legends surround the origin of the coffee mania that has swept the whole world, there is convincing evidence that it has its roots in Yemen and Ethiopia. Rumor has it that a Yemeni shepherd by the name of Khaldi noticed that his goats became stronger and livelier after consuming the leaves and fruit of the coffee tree. Later when the leaves and seeds of the tree were boiled and drunk, the same effect was observed in humans. All that remained was to roast the seeds and boil them in water.
COFFEE AND THE OTTOMANS
The arrival of coffee in Anatolia and Istanbul is widely believed to have occurred via a certain Özdemir Paşa, Governor of Yemen during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. Another claim is that the Ottomans made the acquaintance of coffee through a coffeehouse opened in the district of Tahtakale by a couple of merchants from Aleppo. The growing trade between India, Asia and Europe, and Turkish relations with Europe in particular, took coffee from the distant Orient and brought it to the Occident. A commonly drunk beverage all over the world today in many diverse cultures, coffee nevertheless is brewed by many different methods. And the cooking, serving and drinking of traditional Turkish coffee is different from all others.
The methods developed by the Turks to prepare coffee for brewing resulted in what is known as Turkish coffee. Finely ground to a powder, the coffee is boiled with water in a small, long-handled metal ‘cezve’ (pronounced jez-veh) and served without straining. It is the only coffee in the world to be served this way with the grounds in the bottom of the cup. The tiny cup, which has taken various shapes and dimensions down the centuries, is usually 4-7 cm in diameter and varies between 10 and 13 cm in height.
THE OTTOMAN PRESENTATION OF COFFEE
Like coffee drinking, coffee serving also followed a series of rituals in Ottoman Turkish culture. Due to the importance of refreshments offered to guests, the most opulent cups and cup holders were used to serve coffee. The ‘coffee cover’ embroidered in silver and gold thread, the cups made of crystal or fine china, and the cup holders decorated with precious stones and jewels literally dazzled the eye. Although these traditions in time began to fade or undergo change, they continue to preserve their importance in large part today.
A RICH OFFERING
Cooked over a charcoal fire in a copper or silver cezve, Turkish coffee is often served together with a sorbet of tamarind, violet, licorice, poppy or muscatel grapes in a veritable visual feast. Turkish delight and rosewater complete the presentation.
TEN BIG COFFEE PRODUCERS
Discovery: 10th century
Arrival in Yemen: 15th century
Arrival in Turkey: 16th century
First coffeehouse in Europe: Italy, 1645
Commercial coffee species: Coffea Arabica and Coffea Robusta
First fruit: 3 1/2 years after planting
Yield: A typical Arabica tree yields 5 kg of fruit and 1 kg of coffee beans
Areas where grown: Africa, Indonesia, South America, Hawaii
Roasting: Heating green coffee beans until they are suitable for grinding
Blend: A mixture of several varieties of coffee in specific proportions
Estate: Quality coffee of consistent flavor and aroma obtained from seeds always grown in the same field
Acidity: Coffee’s characteristic sharp flavor
Organic: Coffee grown and produced without the use of chemicals
Decaffeinated: Coffee from which 99% of the seeds’ natural caffeine has been eliminated
FOR A GOOD CUP OF COFFEE
Fill the ‘cezve’ with one Turkish coffee cupful of water per person.
The amount of sugar varies: ‘az’ or little sugar, ‘orta’ or medium sugar, or ‘şekerli’, meaning with lots of sugar.
Another variety (‘yandan çarklı) is made without sugar, which is served on the side in the form of a sugar cube. The name was inspired by the paddlewheel steamers of old Istanbul. In time, Turkish delight and other sweets took the place of the sugar cube.
Two Turkish teaspoonfuls of pulverized coffee and, according to taste, two of sugar are added per person.
The foam that forms as the coffee cooks over low heat is apportioned out equally to each cup.
After the coffee boils up once, it is brought to the boil again and then poured into the cups.