ANKARA, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- Turkey is not a producer of coffee, yet the culture and tradition surrounding this stimulant has more than 500 years of history going back to the Ottoman Empire and is still very vibrant today despite groovy and modern brewing techniques which are en vogue.
"Turk kahvesi" or the Turkish coffee is derived from the Arabica bean and composed of a very fine grind. The taste is very strong and there are meticulous preparation techniques that accompany a strict service method.
It has nothing to do with the modern brewing techniques of coffee that we see in hipster coffee shops in big cities all around the world.
One should not start to drink immediately after the Turkish coffee has been served and give the sediment to settle down in its tiny cup before taking your first delicious sip.
Turkish coffee is prepared in a special small pot with a long handle that is traditionally made of copper. Sugar is never added after the coffee is cooked and you have to add it in the copper pot during the preparation processes.
Once the coffee comes to a boil, you should let the foam rise and take it off the heat. For hardcore coffee drinkers, Turkish coffee without foam is simply unacceptable. The coffee is generally served with a glass of water and also with a Lokum, Turkish delight.
At the very beginning, the Turkish coffee was very bitter and due to the general poverty of the people, there wasn't simply enough money for sugar, a very pricey good at the time, so they had to eat dried fruit and drink water to reduce the bitterness of the beverage.
It is said that the Turkish delight was invented in the purpose of sweetening this guilty pleasure.
HISTORY OF THE TURKISH COFFEE
According to experts and historians, coffee was first brought to Istanbul in the middle of the 16th century after the Ottoman troops conquered Egypt and then Yemen, the homeland of the Arabica bean and became an essential part of the Ottoman Court's elaborate ceremonies.
Osman Serim, a renowned beverage and food expert, art historian and also a founder of the prestigious Turkish Coffee Culture and Research Association, explained that the first sultan to be served ceremoniously a cup of coffee was Suleiman I, commonly known as Suleiman The Magnificent.
"It is essential that the Turkish coffee should be prepared with middle roasted 100 percent Arabica been," insisted Osman Serim.
"Coffee then is introduced in Europe, first in Genova, the merchant city of the time, and further in Paris in the 1650s as a stimulant in the wave of the oriental Turkish exoticism," explained this coffee guru who relentlessly organizes workshops accord Turkey and abroad to promote the Turkish coffee.
In the years that followed its arrival in the Ottoman Empire, coffeehouses proliferated in Istanbul, the capital of the powerful empire and people begun to gather and converse around a cup of coffee, a tradition that perpetuated ever since, event though until the turn of the century for mainly financial and practical reason, tea drinking had the upper hand among Turks, according to statistics.
"Turkish coffee is a ritual and with the arrival of big coffee chains, there is a renewed interest in this traditional drink," explained Serim.
Turkish coffee's special preparation, brewing techniques, and rich communal culture made it worthy of being inscribed in 2013 into UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
The tradition itself has also been recognized as a symbol of hospitality and friendship, with locals meeting at coffeehouses to converse and sometimes gossip over coffee, or coffee being offered to visitors as a welcoming gesture.
The beverage's importance in social occasions was also an important factor in its inscription, with coffee being served during holidays and engagement ceremonies.
The Turkish coffee has also left a big mark on Turkish language and folk songs. There are several expressions derived from the love for the beverage such as the proverb "A cup of Turkish coffee will be remembered for forty years," meaning that the person who offers the coffee is to be respected and remembered for a long time for the sake of his offering.