Role of Turkish Coffee Houses
Role of Turkish Coffee Houses
Turkish coffee is an integral part of every facet of life in Turkey. Earlier, coffee making was quite an elaborate ceremony in Turkish courts. Coffee makers with the help of about 40 helpers ceremoniously prepared the coffee to be served to the Sultan.
Men in Turkey judged the efficiency of women through their skills in coffee making. Many a girl has been selected or rejected based on the coffee she has served the prospective groom. On the other hand there was also a time when the laws provided that a woman could divorce her husband if he could not provide her with her daily coffee.
Both men and women socialize over coffee in Turkey and coffee houses are a central place for meeting of cultured people and politicians. In the early part of 16th century, puppet theatre shows were held in these coffee houses. These were a form of satirical comment on the political and social conditions of the time. Coffee houses in Turkey have since then become social institutions where men gather to meet, talk and exchange views on different topics. One downside of this however was that men spent more time there than in mosques or in prayer.
Drinking Turkish coffee together in coffee houses became so popular and intellectually stimulating that at one point, the Ottoman rulers felt threatened by these gatherings. They believed that men were assembling to question their political doctrines and perhaps planning for a revolt. So much so that in1656, the Ottoman Grand Vizier Koprulu banned coffee drinking and shut down the coffee houses.
The punishment meted out to anybody flouting this law was severe. The first time they were beaten with a cudgel, and the second time they would be sewn up in a leather bag and thrown into the river to drown. Yet, these laws could not stop the people from coffee drinking - such was its temptation!
Another interesting aspect of drinking Turkish coffee is to have your fortune read from the remains in the cup. After finishing the coffee, you should overturn your cup along with the mud. The pattern formed by this remaining ground coffee can tell you much about your future. This form of fortune reading is called `fal` and is still practiced, mostly by women.
Today if you visit any of the coffee houses in Turkey, you may be served the American style coffee. Most of the hotels and pastry shops also serve this, but the roast is of poor quality and the coffee not so good. To taste the real coffee, ask for actual Turkish coffee or `Turk kahvesi` and make sure you specify which way you like it -`sade` which is bitter without sugar, `az sekerli` or with a little sugar that takes off the bitterness, `orta sekerli` which is slightly sweetish, or `cok sekerli` that is very sweet with lots of sugar.
Whichever way you like it, if you love life and wish to enjoy it, do not forget to experience the romance of drinking Turkish coffee.