Coffee has a crucial place in the lives of Turkish people for 500 years. Despite its origins tracing back to Ethiopia and its expansion to Yemen, an Arabian Peninsula country, it was the Turks who introduced coffee, now with its identity rooted in Ottoman geography, to Europe. From the mid-16th century, when coffee entered Turkey, an intense bond between coffee and the Turkish people was established. Although growing coffee plants in Turkey is unfeasible, the process of preparing coffee, from roasting the beans to pouring them into cups, was developed by the Turks and became known as "Turkish Coffee." Before the widespread adoption of filter coffee techniques, the Ottoman method of brewing coffee in a pot had a profound global impact, making it the most prevalent approach from Boston to Vienna and shaping the history of Turkish Coffee.

Ottoman Ambassador Introducing Coffee to Paris: Hossohbet Suleyman Aga

The first recognition of coffee by Europeans was through the writings of diplomats and travelers who journeyed to the East and Ottoman cities, particularly Istanbul. Europeans who visited the Ottoman Empire for various reasons brought coffee to their countries. In 1644, Monsieur de la Roque, accompanied by the French ambassador working in Istanbul, brought the first coffee beans to the city along with samples of coffee-making equipment. In 1660, merchants from Marseille began importing their favored coffee taste from Istanbul to France. In 1671, the first coffeehouse was opened in Marseille. Initially favored by travelers and traders, these coffeehouses gradually became popular among all segments of society.

In 1669, Mehmet IV sent an ambassador to King Louis XIV of France. This ambassador, Hossohbet Nuktedan Suleyman Aga, introduced coffee to Paris. Among the belongings of the Ottoman ambassador were several sacks of coffee, which he described to the French as a "magical drink."

Suleyman Aga quickly gained favor among Parisian diplomats. Being a guest of Suleyman Aga, who shared his culture and pleasant company, along with the unique flavor of Turkish Coffee, was considered an honor among Paris aristocrats. The ambassador impressed everyone with his good company, recounting numerous stories about the history of Turkish Coffee.

Parisian diplomats and statesmen considered invitations from Suleyman Aga, who welcomed his guests with Turkish coffee and pleasant company, a great honor.

The Spread of Turkish Coffee to Europe and the Emergence of Viennese Coffee Culture

Since the early 17th century, the Ottoman people facilitated the introduction, acceptance, and popularity of coffee –second to water in consumption– in major European cities like Venice, Marseille, Paris, London, and beyond.

On the return from the siege of Vienna in 1683, the Ottoman army left a sack of coffee worth a booty at the city wall. While Austrian soldiers deemed these sacks unnecessary, Georg Franz Kolschitzky, a commander who worked as an agent for both armies, claimed them in return for his services in the war.

Utilizing techniques learned during his travels to the Ottoman Empire, Kolschitzky roasted and ground the beans and combined them with hot milk and sugar to create the first Viennese coffee. The Viennese embraced this drink and it quickly became a cornerstone of Austrian coffee culture. As Turkish coffee remained in Turks' memories for forty years, a cup of coffee in Vienna significantly altered the course of countries. With the development of various theories and remedies for diseases, books were written and famous works were displayed in the squares of the city. A statue of Kolschitzky serving coffee in a janissary costume is still displayed on the streets of Vienna. Coffee, which embarked on its journey from the Ottoman Empire, initially spread throughout Europe and then across the globe.

While coffee is simply a beverage in Turkey, its unique rituals and traditions, handed down through generations, have granted it a vital role in the history of Turkish Coffee and social interactions. In the 17th century, the French traveler Jean de Thévenot experienced coffee during his visit to Ottoman Turkey and documented its preparation process, remarkably similar to Turkish coffee-making today. The Italian writer Edmondo de Amicis, who lived in Istanbul for a while in the 19th century, also highlighted the accessibility of coffee anytime and anywhere as follows: "Coffee is now consumed everywhere, on top of Galata and Serasker towers, on ferries, cemeteries, barber shops, Turkish baths, and bazaars. No matter where you are in Istanbul, you don't even have to look, you just need to call out 'Kahveci! (Coffeehouse!)' and three minutes later, a steaming cup of coffee is ready in front of you."


How Was Turkish Coffee Prepared Throughout Its History?

As for its preparation, Turkish coffee is roasted as a bean and cooled in special containers, then pounded in a mortar or large stone mortar or ground in a mill to make it ready to be cooked. Coffee is roasted all over the world. The beans can be coarsely or finely ground, or milled. However, what sets Turkish coffee apart is the unique processes it undergoes, from roasting to grinding, fermentation, and particularly the cooking phase.  It is also part of ceremonial practices, whether consumed individually or within a group. While Turkish coffee has historically been prepared using a pitcher, today it is brewed in coffee pots designed for the purpose, featuring long handles, distinct spouts, and bodies wider at the bottom than the top. Although the prevalence of electric coffee pots in recent years, real Turkish Coffee drinkers are reluctant to abandon this ancient method.