ISTANBUL: Tasting Turkish Coffee For The First (And Last) Time

UNESCO cultural heritage or not, this stuff is not to my liking
UNESCO cultural heritage or not, this stuff is not to my liking

Gozde and Cansu are outraged; you’ve been in Turkey for 13 days and haven’t yet sampled this UNESCO certified breakfast staple.

“We’ll make you some right now!”

You watch them mix sugar and powdered coffee beans in a battered tin pot. They boil it twice over the stove, pour the mixture into a tiny espresso cup and serve it with a glass of water.

But you loathe coffee. The sickly grandefrappamaccachinolattes from Starbucks only stay down with the help of palate-numbing syrups- and those beverages are really nothing more than coffee-flavoured milkshakes.

You take a sip; it’s scaldingly hot. The sourness is like a kick to the mouth. The grits coat your teeth and tongue in a fine, bitter film. The effort hat has gone into producing this little cup of coffee motivates you to finish it: the last mouthful is a sludge of ground coffee- you swallow it, slam the empty cup down and chug the water.

“You’re not supposed to drink the last bit.” Cansu says in mild confusion. “But never mind. Turn it upside down on your saucer so I can read your fortune.”

There’s a fish in your coffee grits. Apparently that means a romantic partner is headed your way.

“And how often do you drink coffee? It seems like a lot of effort to make.” You ask.

The biting aftertaste of coffee lingers on your breath.

“It tastes like paper so we never make it,” they say casually, turning your cup around for a better look. “Now, I’ve found a girl at a table, but I’m not sure what that means..”


  1. Love this little vignette! Headed to Turkey soon myself, and I’ve tried the coffee before…not something I’m sure I want to repeat again but I suppose it’s the ‘cultural thing’ to do. Also didn’t know it was UNESCO, so that’s cool.

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