Wednesday World: Turkish Coffee and Culture

Photo from

Photo from

Turkey isn’t just the origin of the Turkish shimmy… Today I’m going to pick an element of this rich culture and discuss one of my favorite subjects: Coffee!

Disclaimer: I’m not an expert on Turkish coffee or on Turkey in general, but here are some cool things I’ve found out about this ritualized beverage.

According to, one tradition holds that when a man wants to marry a woman, he must visit her parents to ask for her hand. Not unexpected. The neat part comes in when the woman serves the family a tray of coffee. She gets to express her opinion of this match through the amount of sugar she adds to the coffee. The sweeter the coffee, the more she likes the man. No sugar at all is the equivalent of a “Hell no.” And if the coffee is salty, you’d better watch out!

Photo from Filterfresh Nation -- Look at that molten chocolate color!

Photo from Filterfresh Nation — Look at that molten chocolate color!

For Turkish coffee to be made the proper way (for which few people have the necessary patience), it takes 15-20 mins, heated slowly over charcoal embers. Considering that ain’t nobody got time for that, these days there are quicker procedures. All you need to get started are:
— Turkish coffee beans
— Turkish coffee pot (“cezve”)
— Turkish coffee cups (“fincan”)
— Turkish coffee grinder (“kahve degirmeni”)

The salient characteristics of Turkish coffee are: the slow heating process that brings out the best flavors, the foam on top, and the coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup (no filtering!).

I’ll let chef Fisun Ercan explain the process, so you can see what the coffee pot (cezve) looks like and get a taste of her personal history with this coffee.

What other elements of Turkish culture would you like to read about? How about Turkish soap operas? I learned about those in my cultural anthropology course on mass media in the Middle East!

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