Like most, I love coffee. One of my earliest memories from childhood is visiting my great-grandmother and drinking what she called “coffee milk.” Coffee milk was made using 10-parts milk, 1-part coffee, mixed with enough sugar to cause ... Read more
Enjoy A Delicious Morning Cup of Joe? Thank A Turk! 01/10/2018
Coffee has a long, interesting, and disputed history—one that leads to and through the Ottoman Empire and a city now known as Istanbul. In fact, it is safe to say that were it not for the Turks, coffee would not be the world’s favorite ... Read more
Memorial Day in Normandy 26/05/2018
In 2017, I had the opportunity to attend the Memorial Day ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. It was a privilege to join hundreds others in attendance in honoring those who died bravely defending the United States of A... Read more
Şalgam - Adana's Medicinal Miracle 06/05/2018
Şalgam (pronounced shalgam) is a drink that provokes a strong reaction for all who have tasted the blood-red brew. For most who live in the southern Turkish city of Adana, şalgam is a staple on the table at almost every meal. For expat Ad... Read more
Crimson Gold 02/10/2015
September in Adana always brings three things: slight relief from the soul-crushing heat and humidity, smoke wafting into the city from the farmers burning the surrounding agricultural fields, and, lastly, fresh salça. Salça (pronounced s... Read more
Balloon Ride Over Cappadocia 07/01/2015
I am jolted awake by a firm knock on our hotel door. My first reaction is to kick into Jason Bourne mode. "They" have come for me. After several seconds I come to my senses, my heart rate returns to normal and I realize it's the shuttle dri... Read more
Like most, I love coffee. One of my earliest memories from childhood is visiting my great-grandmother and drinking what she called “coffee milk.” Coffee milk was made using 10-parts milk, 1-part coffee, mixed with enough sugar to cause an instant tooth ache, and served in an 8-ounce porcelain coffee cup. Although the taste of coffee was faint, my affection for the dark beverage was born.
When I moved to Turkey several years ago, I was introduced to a variation much different than coffee milk or anything I served to customers as a Starbucks barista in my college days. This seemed like an entirely different drink. Thick, gritty, bitter, and strong—so strong. The kind of strong that my dad would have certainly commented, “that coffee will grow hair on your chest.” Despite its pugnacious taste, it was served to me in a dainty cup (most Turkish coffee cups are about 2 ounces). A cup so small the handle only accommodates four fingers and requires the drinker to sip with his or her pinky pointed outward. I was intrigued, and the more I drank it, the more I enjoyed its flavor.
I wanted to find out more about the history of coffee and, specifically, Turkish coffee. I dug around the web to find the origin of coffee was surprised to learn of the enormous role Turks played in the spread of coffee around the world. Coffee has such a long and interesting history that I wrote another blog that you can read here . Still, I wanted to know more about Turkish coffee, so I went to the place where I figured I would find an expert—Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. As I wandered around the Bazaar’s maze of streets and alleys, I ran across Ethem Tezçakar Kahveci and sat down for a tiny cup of coffee. I began talking with the man who served my coffee, Bekir Tezçakar, who happened to be the coffee shop’s 5th generation owner. Bekir was happy to share the history of his family’s legacy.
Ethem wouldn’t just allow Bekir to take over the family business by default. Ethem barred his son from working at the coffee shop, insisting that he must first get an education. Being a good son, Bekir obeyed. If his father wanted him to get a degree, he would get two—mathematics and engineering. Bekir began a prosperous engineering career. His firm has worked on projects all over Istanbul, including the Grand Bazaar and luxury homes along the Bosporus Strait, as well as across the border in Bulgaria. Despite his success in engineering, it has always just been a job. The coffee shop—that is his passion. After his father finally retired, Bekir followed in his ancestors’ footsteps by taking over the family legacy. “My entire family has passed through those columns,” Bekir said referring to the two enormous marble pillars in front of his shop. “I feel an obligation to keep my heritage alive.”