Turkish Coffee

I once dated a fella who drank Nescafe. With powdered creamer, no less. It was one of the many things I found hopelessly endearing about him, like that he lived in a condemnable, unheated apartment with a bunch of other junkie artists in a wretched section of town, and that he did whip-its- whip-its!- and drove a truck with a death rattle, and wrote beautiful songs. Everyone I knew lived in Charles Village and owned a french press. Drinking Nescafe out of a dirty mug in his (approximation of a) kitchen while shivering under a (smelly) blanket was thrilling.
“I like it,” he said defensively when I poked fun at it. (He was defensive a lot. I should have paid more attention to that.) “It’s good.”
I hated to admit it but I kind of agreed. Nescafe tastes like coffee flavored candy, or coffee flavored ice-cream. Unmistakably coffee-ish, but flat, with no depth, no bitterness.
I didn’t drink it again after he left and started dating his bass player. My next fella was a coffee snob and with him I drank americanos, but you aren’t here to learn about the history of my love life as told through coffee drinks, but to learn about Turkey.

Before I left the states everyone I told about my trip said the same thing: “Ohmygod the coffee is going to be so good!”
I was surprised when I came here and found that Turks, the progenitors of Turkish coffee, appear to primarily drink Nescafe. With powdered creamer.
It’s not that you can’t get any other kind- you can also get a “filter coffee” or a Turkish coffee in the cafes, and I’ve even seen a few coffee makers in the appliance stores- it’s just that everyone seems to have a foil bag of Nescafe or Jacob’s or something in their pantry. It’s what I drink at home, now. It’s what we all drink at work.

Every morning I stumble out of bed and wander into the kitchen and pour myself a glass of water. I put my breakfast in the oven to warm, and switch on the electric kettle. One minute later I have a very reasonable facsimile of a cup of coffee. Sure, it’s flat and dishwatery, (except for the last swallow which is sludgey and sweet with undissolved sugar) but it’s comforting somehow. Consistent. Reliable.

“You know,” I said to my co-worker, as I plopped a sugar cube into my mug, “it’s hard to explain but where I come from, this kind of coffee is, well, it’s comical.”
He frowned.
“I don’t understand,” he said.
“Never mind,” I said.

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1 Comment

Filed under Daily Life, Turkish Culture

One response to “Turkish Coffee

  1. I’ve given up trying to explain to Turks that Nescafe is not actually coffee. In Istanbul you can probably get filter coffee easily, but here in Antalya you have to be in an upscale cafe and pay a fortune for it. I can’t drink regular Nescafe (probably because I drink coffee without sugar) but I have become partial to the little blue packets of cappucino which produce a mild, coffee-flavored beverage.

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