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August 2012 - Turkish Coffeehouse

The Turkish Coffeehouse
J. Martinez & Company - Coffee Merchants
August 15, 2012

Company Newsletter

The Turkish Coffeehouse

The floors are covered with handwoven Turkish rugs. The gentle sound of water trickles across the room from the central fountain to where you are seated on a pillowed bench, against the wall, with a view of the room, the smoke of pipes drifting lazily overhead. It is late summer and the windows are open, revealing a stunning view of the Bosphorus. The room buzzes with the talk of politics, trade, and the recent battle of Calugareni against Michael the Brave’s Wallachian army. It is 1596; Greeks, Slavs, Armenians and Turks live separately but in this, the Classic Period of the Empire, they mingle more, especially at the coffeehouse, to make Constantinople one the world’s great cosmopolitan cities.

Turkish Coffeehouse

You are in one of over 600 coffeehouses that have come to populate the city over the past 40 years, since two intrepid Syrians each opened a coffeehouse in the Tahtakale district of the city. You gather with your friends to play games like dominos, backgammon, chess and a new card game, bridge. There is singing, occasional dancing, and storytelling. You frequent a regular coffeehouse, so much so that messages are left for you there with the certainty that it won’t be long before you receive it. But your grandsons (for this is a male-only institution) will suffer an interruption in this type of social foray.

In 1623, at the age of 11, Murad IV came to the throne. A few years later when he reached his majority he firmly took control of the Sultanate from his mother, the regent. The Empire was rotting with corruption, the Janissaries were restless and the army was undisciplined. The Ottoman Empire’s last warrior Sultan, Murad took heavy-handed, but, in the end, effective action to restore order and win back Ottoman territory lost, including his most famous victory, the conquest of Baghdad over the Persians.

Murad IV - Sultan of the Ottoman Empire

Murad toured the coffeehouses. He found coffee somewhat suspect, as had certain Muslim religious leaders. But for Murad, it was the caffeine-inspired political discussions that caused him to ban the coffeehouses. He found the taverns sinful as well, despite his own alleged love of drink, and tore them down. Coffee and wine had been banned before, but the bans were religious, and many ignored them. Murad had the power to enforce his bans, and on occasion he personally patrolled the dark streets and meted out instant punish with his sword.

He died at the tender age of 27 of either gout or cirrhosis of the liver, depending on whether the sources are Eastern or Western in origin. The coffeehouses came back and returned to their prior cultural prominence.

August Free Shipping Promotion

After a not-so-scientific poll of our customers on Facebook (visit us, like us, and you will get advance notice of certain promotions and deals), we are running a free shipping promotion through August 31. Any purchase over $75 gets free shipping in the continental United States. Make sure you are logged into your account and use the promo code AUGFREE.