When Coffee Is Cooked

June 2014

ALTHOUGH THE SOUTH AMERICAN COUNTRIES (BRAZIL AND COLOMBIA), NOT ARABIA, ARE THE LEADING EXPORTERS OF COFFEE TODAY, IN OUR TURKISH FOLKSONGS COFFEE STILL COMES FROM YEMEN. COFFEE COMES FROM YEMEN THE NIGHTINGALE FROM THE MEADOW

When Coffee Is Cooked

The arrival of coffee from great distances by camel caravan is a reminder that love too is a bumpy road. In the 16th century, coffee was also produced in the Ottoman Empire following the conquest of Egypt and Yemen. Coffee made its way into the palace of Suleiman the Magnificent, even prompting the appointment of a “chief coffee maker” to the palace staff. On “Mevlid” nights marking the birth of the Prophet Mohammad, a coffee tent would be pitched next to the Sultanahmet (“Blue”) mosque and the thick, brown beverage served to those arriving for the celebration. The first coffeehouses in Istanbul opened in the city’s most populous district of Tahtakale, and later in Eminönü and Unkapanı as well. Finding its way into every home, rich or poor, coffee spread to even the most remote backwaters of Anatolia, and the serving of coffee in government offices became traditional.

COFFEE FAD IN FRANCE
Europe learned about coffee from the Turks. Foreign travelers and diplomats visiting the Ottoman Empire speak of coffee in their memoirs, explaining in detail how it was prepared and served, and taking it back with them when they returned to their countries, where they continued the practice. When Müteferrika Süleyman Ağa was appointed envoy to the court of Louis XIV at Versailles in 1669, he entered the king’s presence clad in a coarse woolen cloak and declined to prostrate himself before the monarch. Summarily expelled from Versailles by the king, he was dispatched to Paris. In his opulent mansion in the capital, Süleyman Ağa became the darling of Parisian society thanks to his charming conversation. He also triggered a coffee-drinking fad with the beans he had brought with him from Istanbul by the sackful.

NOT FOR CHILDREN
In Turkey, children were not allowed to drink coffee. It was also regarded as unseemly for young girls to partake of the beverage, an attitude that prevailed in the West as well. Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Coffee Cantata”, which he composed in Leipzig, tells the story of a girl who liked coffee. Her father does not want her to drink it and threatens to ground her and not buy her nice dresses if she does. In a final ultimatum he even threatens not to find her a husband! At this, the girl relents, saying, “Okay, Daddy, marry me off right away.” The clever girl makes a pact with her future husband that she can drink coffee whenever she likes, and the two tie the knot!
Coffee is closely bound up with affairs of the heart. Coffee may be an irresistible beverage, but what people really want is to talk and get close to each other. Coffee is just an excuse!
When coffee is cooked
When the grounds froth up
When the heart falls…
Beauty and homeliness have no sway!

COFFEE LEGENDS
Coffee’s stimulant effects were discovered early on. Observing that when goats ate coffee beans they started jumping and cavorting, Ethiopian goatherds soon cottoned on to coffee’s stimulating effect. Monks on the other hand did not care for the taste of raw coffee berries when they ate them. Finding the berries bitter, they tossed them into the fire but then noticed the delicious aroma that arose and started brewing them as a beverage instead. When the monks were able to stay awake all night thanks to drinking coffee, they decided it must be a blessing sent from God so they could pray all night long!saucers and metal sleeves, trays, tray covers -- all tools of the itinerant coffee vendors trade.

NEVER UNDERRATE A CUP OF COFFEE
A variety of utensils and apparatus were used for preparing and serving coffee. Coffee roasting containers and trays, wooden trays for cooling the roasted beans, wooden mortars and pestles, coffee grinders with wooden boxes, metal grinders, boxes for storing coffee, coffee measuring spoons, long-handled ‘cezve’ pots for boiling the coffee, coffee braziers, handleless cups with saucers and metal sleeves, trays, tray covers -- all tools of the itinerant coffee vendors trade.