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Le Cordon Bleu News, 02/28/2014
A gastronomic escapade in Turkey: Turkish coffee
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World Culinary Traditions

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A gastronomic escapade in Turkey:  Turkish coffee

In December 2013, UNESCO added Turkish coffee to the world’s intangible heritage list.  This honor demonstrates the important role played by Turkish coffee in Turkish cultural traditions.

Turkish coffee is not just a simple beverage but a drink which goes hand in hand with rites, codes and a certain image of hospitality, conviviality and sharing.  The arrival of coffee in Turkey dates back to the 16th century and the first café was opened in Istanbul in 1554.  Turkish coffee, along with tea, rapidly became one of the favored drinks of the local population.  It developed in the West during the 17th century when it was shipped into the ports of Venice and Marseille.

Turkish coffee is set apart from other coffees by the way in which it is prepared and brewed, something which is passed from generation to generation.  A good Turkish coffee is made with very finely ground coffee beans (even finer than espresso).  It always has a good foam and the grounds should sink to the bottom of the cup.  In order for the coffee to have a good foam, it is advisable to combine the ground coffee beans and cold water in an iron or copper saucepan (cezve) and to brew over low heat, stirring continuously, until it boils.  This is then repeated three times, pouring one third of the beverage into a cup each time.  The coffee should be left to stand for a short while before serving so that the grounds have time to settle at the bottom of the cup.  Sugar can also be added according to taste.  There are 3 types of Turkish coffee depending on how much sugar has been added:  Without sugar (sade), with a little sugar (orta), with a lot of sugar (sekerli).  This very special technique allows the coffee to release all of its flavor and aromas.  The coffee is usually served in porcelain cups accompanied by a glass of water.

Turkish coffee is rooted in the Turkish way of life.  In a café or within the home, Turkish coffee is enjoyed in a family setting, with friends or even with work colleagues.  It is a moment for sharing and dialogue.  It differs from espresso in that it is not meant to be drunk fast but whilst being comfortably seated.  You need to take your time, sucking the coffee up in order for the grounds to remain at the bottom of the cup.  This is of upmost importance as one of the ancient customs of Turkish coffee is that you can tell somebody’s fortune by looking at the symbols made by the coffee grounds.  The messages the grounds reveal bring good news and should therefore be taken positively.  Not everybody knows how to tell somebody’s fortune by reading the coffee grounds, there is a very specific procedure to follow and you must learn what each symbol means.  Nowadays, reading grounds to predict the future is above all a means of amusement during these convivial get-togethers.

Turkish coffee, which is rooted in the culture and traditions of its country, is often consumed during festive occasions.

In order to gain a better understanding of the role Turkish coffee plays in the cultural traditions of Turkey, we interviewed Le Cordon Bleu alumni, Esra Özkutlu, who is from Izmir in Turkey:

Esra Özkutlu – Pastry DiplomaTestimonial
Esra Özkutlu – Pastry Diploma
"Can you explain to us in what way Turkish coffee is rooted in Turkish culture?
Coffee is extremely important in every couple’s lives in Turkey. In the 16th century, it was grounds for divorce if the family of the husband in the couple was not able to make sure that there was a supply of coffee in the home. Read more




Esra Özkutlu and Chef TranchantCan you explain to us in what way Turkish coffee is rooted in Turkish culture?
Coffee is extremely important in every couple’s lives in Turkey. In the 16th century, it was grounds for divorce if the family of the husband in the couple was not able to make sure that there was a supply of coffee in the home. Isn’t that unbelievable?
Likewise, when a young couple wants to get married, the suitor and his family are traditionally invited to the young lady’s family home. After a good meal during which the two families have got to know one another, the young lady makes coffee. She adds salt to her suitor’s coffee to make it very bitter. When drinking the coffee, the suitor must not show any emotion: Neither disgust, nor repulsion. This is a crucial test for the future groom and will allow people to judge how adaptable he is.

How has the role of coffee in Turkey evolved?
For Turkish people, coffee is still a means of exchange and dialogue. Turkish people love to meet up at midday for coffee and a chat. In Turkey there is always coffee in every home. My grandmother used to grind her own coffee but nowadays we buy it from shops where it has already been ground.




Are you interested in Turkey? Or coffee?

Take part in our new Turkish cuisine workshop Discover our recipe for the Turkish dish “Imam Bayaldi” Discover our delicious Coffee soufflé recipe The coffee is highlight at the The SuccessFood exhibition
Turkish cuisine workshop Imam Bayaldi recipe Coffee soufflé recipe Coffee at the SuccessFood exhibition



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