What Is The History Of Turkish Coffee?

Thick, rich and strong, Turkish coffee is not an experience for the faint of heart, but have you ever considered what is the history of turkish coffee?

History Of Turkish Coffee
Turkish coffee is a potent brew that only those bold palates can handle

Around the mid-1500s, the people of Turkey discovered the potent drink called coffee. Of course, most people, when they learn of something new, try to make it their own by preparing it with a novel twist, and the Turks were no different.

Over time, the Turkish people tweaked and adapted the preparation of coffee so that it became something unique and regional. Currently, when you talk about Turkish coffee, you learn that this coffee is a potent brew that only those with bold palates can handle. 

How Coffee Came To Turkey

In the 16th century, Turkey was first introduced to coffee by way of the Turkish governor of Yemen named Ozdemir Pasha. The new drink came to his area from Ethiopia and thought it would be a great idea to introduce it to the leader of the entire Ottoman Empire, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

Of course, the Sultan was suitably impressed, but soon his staff began toying with new ways to brew this hot, strong drink.

Suleiman’s staff started pounding and grinding the coffee beans into a fine powder and brewing it in a special pot called an Ibrik. The Sultan was impressed and soon the beverage called coffee and the unique Turkish method of preparation became irrevocably intertwined with Turkish culture.

First, the wealthy and powerful began enjoying coffee, but it wasn’t long before the masses were all introduced to it and frequently enjoying a cup of coffee. 

You might also be interested in our Spanish latte guide.

The Next Chapter In The Story Of Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee with coffee beans
Turkish coffee maker were called Kahveci Usta, Ottoman version of a barista

When coffee became widespread in the nation of Turkey, a new position was created called the Kahveci Usta. These people were the Ottoman version of a barista, and they were often employed in royal palaces and in the homes of wealthy individuals doing nothing but making coffee for the household.

Eventually, the first coffee houses were established where people gathered together to drink coffee along with other fine beverages and talk. 

In the 17th century a new man came into power, the Ottoman Grand Vizier Koprulu. This man did not see the coffee houses as a good thing.

He worried about the discussion topics that took place in the coffee houses and thought that in time if the talk turned to politics, these places could foment rebellion and be a threat to his power. Coffee houses were banned, and the public was horrified.

Punishments were harsh for violating the law that forbade gathering at coffee houses, but the coffee house experience had become such an integral part of Turkish culture that the public continued meeting there, risking severe penalties. 

Coffee houses were central to the enjoyment of public life, with people enjoying discussions, lectures, and even puppet shows in the coffee houses.

Turkish Customs Surrounding Coffee

Over the centuries, the Turkish people have developed certain customs around drinking coffee. Coffee culture is still strong in Turkey, with people still enjoying strong cups of this drink in coffee shops 

One such custom involved a young woman making coffee for her future husband. This was a test of her coffee-making abilities, and if she did a poor job of making coffee, she risked being rejected by her beloved. There was also a point in Turkish history where a woman could divorce her husband if he didn’t provide her at least one cup of coffee a day. 

Another interesting Turkish custom around coffee is fortune telling by studying the residue left in the bottom of the coffee cup. When you finish the coffee, you should turn your cup over and dump the “mud” from the bottom of the cup out. Legends say that one can find out much about one’s future by the patterns of the coffee grounds. 

How To Make Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee being poured down in a cup
Turkish coffee is made using the device called a cezve

Turkish coffee is made by coffee makers in a device called a cezve, which is a fancy long handled copper pot that is used specifically for coffee preparation.

1. Boil Water And Sugar

Measure out about 50 mL of water per cup of coffee and add to the cezve along with the desired amount of sugar. The water and sugar are brought to a boil over heat.

2. Add Coffee

 Add a teaspoon of coffee per cup to the coffee pot.

3. Boil The Coffee Twice

Return the pot to the heat and boil it again, discarding the foam. The coffee is boiled twice in this manner, with the foam being discarded after each boiling.

4. Cool The Coffee

 Add a tablespoon of cool water is to the pot to help the grounds settle to the bottom.

5. Serve

Pour the coffee into tiny cups and serve.

Central Asian Names For Turkish Coffee

You should definitely be careful about ordering Turkish coffee when you are traveling in the Central Asian area, particularly if you are not in the actual nation of Turkey. This area has a complicated history surrounding the nation of Turkey and the Ottoman Empire, and people have complex feelings about the name “Turkish coffee.”

For instance, some areas, like Greece, the Balkans, Cypress, Armenia, and Bosnia may take offense if you request a Turkish coffee.

Some places have other names for their version of Turkish coffee. In one nation it might be called Cypriot coffee, while in other areas, it might be called Bosnian coffee. In Armenia, it may be called an Armenian coffee, and still, others call this brew a Byzantine coffee, even though the Byzantine Empire vanished any centuries ago.

Be sensitive to cultural issues so that you do not inadvertently cause offense when traveling. As they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans” and follow the lead of those around you. Maybe you should ask for a cup of Turkish coffee, or maybe you should ask for a cup of Bosnian coffee. 

The Final Word About The History Of Turkish Coffee

Although Turkish coffee had its origins in Central Asia, this kind of coffee has now spread all around the world from the ancient city of Istanbul. Rich, thick, and potent, Turkish coffee is for those who love strong brews. Turkish coffee is interwoven with the history and culture of this fascinating nation.

FAQ About The History Of Turkish Coffee

Who introduced coffee to Turkey?

The Turkish governor of Yemen named Ozdemir Pasha introduced coffee to Sulieman the Magnificient.

How long does it take to make Turkish coffee? 

Coffee preparation in the Turkish method takes between 7 and 10 minutes. 


  • April F.

    April Freeman is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and children on their Middle Tennessee farm where they raise vegetables, fruit, chickens, and cattle. April enjoys writing about food and is always whipping up something tasty in her kitchen. She also is an avid reader of books of all kinds. Find April on WriterAccess.