Before 900s, Galla tribe discovers the stimulating effect of coffee beans in Ethiopia. Coffee beans are roasted, ground and lumped by being mixed with oil. In 1000s, the plant brought to the Middle East by Arab merchants is planted, the seed of the plant is boiled and the product obtained is named as 'kahwa' In the 1400s, a drink made from the coffee plant of Yemen becomes popular among Sufis and Arab peninsula begins to grow coffee.
The first commercially grown coffee plant is seen in a region close to El-Muha (Mocha) harbor at the mouth of the Red Sea of Yemen. At the beginning of 16th century, coffee that begins to be drunk widely in Egypt arrives in Syria.
In 1517, the coffee is introduced to Istanbul for the first time by Yemen Governor Özdemir Pasha in the period of Suleiman the Magnificent and the first coffee houses are opened between 1551-1555.The coffee flavor that Ottoman Turks taste in Yemen and bring to Istanbul in 1536 is served to the sultan by 40 permanently employed coffee masters in the glorious halls of the palace. Coffee that is admired by the Sultan becomes the favorite of the palace as of that date. So much that even the odalisques in the harem are taught to brew coffee.
With the coffee houses that spread to the entire city in time, coffee leaves its mark to the social life of the period. And thanks to the brand new brewing method invented by the Turks, the coffee baked in copper vessels and pots is named as 'Turkish Coffee'.
The original brewing method of the coffee requires to follow very detailed steps. First, the freshly roasted high-quality coffee beans are ground in a mortar or a grinder until they are fully granulated. Then coffee, cold water, and sugar, if requested are put into a pot. The pot is placed on fire and the coffee is cooked until a foam is formed on the surface. And finally, it is served with a glass of water and Turkish delight. To achieve a good flavor, one should be careful about the roasting method and the temperature of the coffee.
In the following periods, coffee beans become an important export item, and extend first to Europe and then to the entire world. French traveler Jean de Thévenot, who visits the Ottoman Empire in the seventeenth century and tastes coffee, explains the preparation method of this drink that resembles the current method in detail and then underlines how important this is for the Ottomans: "Rich or poor, every Turkish individual drinks at least two cups of coffee everyday. Every husband is responsible to supply coffee for his wife."
And Italian traveler Edmondo de Amicis, who visits Istanbul in the nineteenth century and lives here for a while, describes this passion as follows: "There are coffee houses on the hills of Galata Tower and Beyazıt Tower, there are coffee houses inside graveyards, there are coffee houses in state offices, there are coffee houses in baths, and there are coffee houses in markets. So wherever you are in Istanbul, just yell for 'coffee' without even looking around and a cup of coffee would be in front of you within three minutes.
In the first half of the 17th century, coffee is still an exotic beverage and is used as expensive medical products by the upper class just like the other rarely found ingredients such as sugar, cacao, and tea. In the following 50 years, Europeans discover both the social and medical benefits of this Arabian drink. In the 1650s, coffee is sold by the aquaccdratajo or lemonade sellers offering also coffee, chocolate, and liquor on the streets of Italy. In 1683, the first coffee house of Venice is opened. "Caffe" (written as 'cafe' in other regions of Europe) offered by this coffee house became synonymous with the entertaining friendships, joyful conversations and delicious foods accompanying this drink in short amount of time.
Turkish coffee workshop in Mosaic Art Studio