Last week after jumping out of bed early Sunday morning the first thing I did, just as I use to every single morning, was prepare myself a cup of dark, hot coffee. I sat on the balcony watching the cats play in the olive grove on the other side of campus, and kept taking small sips from the mug I was clutching in my hands.

Mornings in Jordan are cold. My coffee was warm, strong as a bullet, more bitter in taste than I ever remembered, darker than tar. And it was exaclty what I needed that very moment…

That thought of a small cup of coffee with unseparable relish of cardamon was exactly what has made me jump out of bed so wildly that half-way to the kitchen I have realized I am actually running barefoot.

That thought of a small cup of coffee with unseparable relish of cardamon was exactly what has made me jump out of bed so wildly that half-way to the kitchen I have realized I am actually running barefoot.

Sometimes, we can’t survive without coffee. For many of us, including myself, coffee is a part of a daily routine, first thing in the morning, or a must in the afternoon. Perfect weekend morning?

A cup of pure pleasure at 10 o’clock when you’re still lying in bed with your dog and a good book .<3

In the Arab world, coffee is by far the most popular drink, a vital part of the heritage of most Gulf countries, and a recipe for a successful day. The great value and importance assigned to that drink across the globe has made me take a closer look at its history and origins. Amazing stories I came across, many of which happen to be greatly related to Poland (!) have made me appreciate my guilty pleasure even more.

= Now is this time you run to your own kitchen and prepare a double espresso to join you =

Ready? Let’s start with a question: what do we all think, when we think of coffee?

Well, the answer is not so obvious.

Let me give you an example: what do we think of if I were to say for example pizza? Most of us would probably say – Italy. If I was to say sushi, what would you think of? Japan. That was easy. You can clearly see there are certain things you associate with certain things. But if I said coffee, what would you think of? Brazil? Ethiopia? Colombia? Some may say Italy?

The answer might become easier with a little background, so let me drop some historical klowledge at ya. :-)

You all probably already start figuring out that there is some islamic spirit into that. And you’re right.  In the end, I’m in Amman where coffee is easier to buy than water. 🙂

Rainbow street in Amman - the best place to get a quality, fresh grounded coffee in a good price

Rainbow street in Amman – the best place to get a quality, fresh grounded coffee in a good price

The word „coffee” itself comes from Arabic, in which we call the drink „ قہوہ” ( read kahła). Now قہوہ comes from the verb „قهي”, (read kahija) which literally means „to lose one’s apetite”, because the Arabs knew that when you drink a lot of coffee, you don’t feel like eating anymore, so they would usually have coffee after their meals.

The word قہوہ was spread from Yemen, to the rest of Arabia, until it reached the Ottoman Empire. And it was the Ottomans who really revolutionized coffee.
What do I mean by revolutionized?

Arabs liked coffee. Ottomans and the Turks – loved coffee. And through stdies of artefacts and written works ( many of which you can find in old museums of Madaba ), we find that Ottomans couldn’t survive without coffee. All of them would drink it to the point where many of the scholars of the Ottoman Empire stipulated that, when of course Muslim man has to spend some money on his wife: supplying her with house, food, clothing as otherwise it’s grounds for divorce, in the Ottoman Empire, besides all of the above, man had to supply his wife with enough coffe.

Really.

Every morning in the Arab countries begins with a conversation accompanied by a cup of dark coffee near the fire place.

Every morning in the Arab countries begins with a conversation accompanied by a cup of dark coffee near the fire place.

So, we get it: coffee was a big deal for Ottomans. However, as big of a deal as it was, they could not pronounce the letter “و „ (polish ł). Instead, Ottomans used the letter „w”, so the word ‘hahła’ was pronounced ‘kahwa’. This pronaunciation began to spread as the Ottomans started attacking many European nations.

It was actually the last instance of offensive jihad in Hama that became a breakthrough in the history of coffee: the last time in the history of Ummah when the Muslims made offensie Jihads and the Ottomans were attacking Austria. AND POLAND, which were united at that time.

Ottomans were defeated in this battle, the second siege on Vienna. And as some of you might know, when you leave the battlefield, you leave everything behind. So the Ottomans left their coffee. Because yes, it was so important to them that the supplies of army leaving for battle included boxes of coffee, and all the soldiers would thake their own coffee with them as well, wherever they went.

So the coffee was left behind. The Ottomans left and the Austrian and Polish came in and were just about to discover the new drink. They asked many of the Turkish soldiers „what is this drink?” And the Turks said it was „kahwa”.

Eventually the dark drink which took a liking across the armies as a great source of quickly released energy and a stimulant cheaper than for example tobacco, got the name kawa (big time Poland!), from which it transofmed to kaffee and further coffee, as the armies travelled (with their coffee) proclaiming new lands.

The very traditional way of serving coffee in small cups (white) - called finjan. The coffee is being poured from a small pot, each person has his or her own one.

The very traditional way of serving coffee in small cups (white) – called finjan. The coffee is being poured from a small pot, each person would his or her own one.

Are you finished with your espresso and thirsty for more of both coffee and stories?
I hope so, because then the Pope came in and the battle of Christians, Muslims, and black beans bagan for good!

Enjoy your afternoon/morning, or everning wherever on our little planet you are everybody, and don’t forget to come back for a second part of flavourful story with the Arab insight!!!

-A

2 comments on “The discovery of coffee – Turkish, Polish, and the Ottoman on a path of world’s most popular drink
  1. Beata Borzyszkowska says:

    zachwyca sposób w jaki piszesz o kawie, tyle ciekawych nowych informacji,
    cudowne zdjęcia
    sama przyjemność – czytając ten artykuł od razu ma się ochotę na kawę

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