The history of Turkish coffee spans more than 500 years, as the coffee became an important part of Turkish culture and folklore throughout that period.
The Turkish coffee traveled from Istanbul to all parts of the world in a long trip carried by merchants to Europe, so it can be said that the real start of coffee to the world was from Istanbul.
How did coffee spread in the Ottoman Empire?
Coffee appeared in the Ottoman Empire around 1540, , as history shows us that coffee was introduced by Özdemir Pasha, the Ottoman ruler of Yemen, who noticed the distinctive characteristics of the coffee drink.
Ozdemir Pasha offered coffee to Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, who liked this drink so much that the staff of the Topkapi Palace decided to use a new method of making coffee.
The era of Sultan Suleiman is the real breakthrough for the history of Turkish coffee since coffee penetrated the Ottoman society at this era.
The workers in the Ottoman palace took the coffee beans, crushed them and boiled them in a special jug, so that the new drink impressed Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife Hurrem Sultan.
In 1544, two Syrian Arabs opened the first coffee shop in Istanbul, and at that time Sheikh Bostanzadeh Mehmed Effendi issued a fatwa stating that coffee is not forbidden but rather useful and desirable.
Coffee spread from the palace to the nobility in the country, and then coffee became an integral part of Turkish culture, and its drinking habit spread among the public, as Sufi’s drank coffee frequently to stay up late and strengthen the mind to aid them in worship.
Turkish coffee was prepared by a professional employee called “Kahveci Usta”, The Usta was present in most of the Ottoman palaces to prepare coffee for nobles and wealthy Ottoman citizens.
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Soon, the number of professional coffee employees in the country increased, and many of the Usta’s opened their own coffee shop, and the coffeehouses became an important part of Ottoman society and the history of Turkish coffee.
The number of cafes increased significantly, until it reached 600 during the reign of Sultan Murad III, as cafes expanded outside the capital Istanbul to Konya, Gaziantep, Mardin and Anatolia in general.
Why was coffee banned in the Ottoman Empire?
Sultan Murad IV “the Conqueror of Baghdad,” issued a royal decree to close cafes, and the main reason behind the Sultan’s decision was that the cafes had turned into places that included many anti-state political gatherings that sought to disobey and stir up strife in the state.
How did Turkish coffee move to Europe?
In 1615, Venetian merchants who came to Istanbul brought this drink they loved so much back to their country, and this was the first time in the history of Turkish coffee that coffee was widely served to Europeans.
The first Italian coffeehouse was opened in 1645, and then coffee arrived in Paris in 1643 and London in 1651, and then spread to the entire European continent.
The golden age of coffee in the Ottoman Empire
The era of Sultan Abdul Aziz and Sultan Abdul Hamid II is considered the golden age of coffee in Turkey and the Ottoman Empire, where coffeehouses and the culture of drinking coffee spread significantly throughout the country.
Coffee also spread outside the Ottoman Empire, and the term “Turkish coffee” was known in that era in Europe, where the Turks excelled in making the famous hot drink.
Coffee in the Ottoman Society
Drinking coffee is one of the most important social customs that spread in the Ottoman Empire and Turkish folklore, as women met each other to drink coffee and eat sweets, especially lokum sweets .
Men also gathered in cafes to discuss politics and play backgammon, and in the early 16th century, these cafés hosted a new form of satirical, political and social criticism called the Shadow Theater of Turkish Folklore, where the Karagöz dolls became famous as “puppet theater”, Ottoman cafes became social institutions that provided a place to meet and talk.
Coffee trade in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey
In the sixteenth century, Istanbul became a crowded center for the coffee trade, as well as being the largest coffee market in the world in that period, as the city contained all kinds of coffee coming from different countries of the world, so that Europeans came to import them to their countries.
The coffee trade between the Ottoman Empire and Brazil first began in 1727, as the empire was importing coffee beans from Brazil in addition to Yemeni coffee beans.
Many studies have been conducted on coffee cultivation in Turkey, specifically in Anatolia, Nestlé Nescafé launched in the 1980s a program to grow coffee in Turkey since 2004, in Mersin and Antalya, and the equivalent of only 16 hectares of coffee were cultivated in Turkey.