c. 1600 | Aleppo

Some Like It Hot

On the Turks’ love of coffee.

The Turks’ most common drink is coffa, which is a black kind of drink made of a kind of pulse-like peas called coaua, which being ground in the mill and boiled in water, they drink as hot as they can suffer it—which they find to agree very well with them against their crudities, and feeding on herbs and raw meats.

Other compounded drinks they have, called sherbet, made of water and sugar, or honey, with snow therein to make it cool; for although the country be hot, yet they keep snow all the year long to cool their drink. It is accounted a great courtesy among them to give unto their friends when they come to visit them a finjan or scudella of coffa, which is more wholesome than toothsome, for it causeth good concoction and driveth away drowsiness.

Some of them will also drink bersh or opium, which maketh them forget themselves and talk idly of castles in the air, as though they saw visions and heard revelations. Their coffa houses are more common than ale­houses in England, but they use not so much to sit in the houses as on benches on both sides of the streets, near unto a coffa house, every man with his finjanful, which, being smoking hot, they use to put it to their noses and ears and then sup it off by leisure, being full of idle and alehouse talk while they are among themselves drinking it; if there be any news, it is talked of there.


William Biddulph

From Travels of Certain Englishmen. One of the earliest existing accounts of coffee’s inception in the Islamic world holds that the drink was first used by Sufis in the mid-1400s to help in their all-night prayers. Biddulph, a preacher to English merchants, observed that in Turkey “it is no rare matter for popish Christians of sundry other countries to cut cabin (as they call it), that is, to take any woman of that country where they sojourn (Turkish women only excepted, for it is death for a Christian to meddle with them).”