Article 10: Coffee in the growth to the peak of the Ottoman Empire
Coffee contributed significantly to the expansion of the Ottoman Empire – one of the largest states in the world, controlling a vast territory from South-Eastern Europe, to South-Western Asia and North Africa.
After the discovery of coffee by the Ethiopians, the drink quickly spread and became popular in the Muslim world in Persia, Egypt, the Ottomans, and North Africa, making the drink a commodity of economic profit.
In 1536, the Ottomans invaded and took control of the coffee plantations in Yemen. Soon after, the coffee trade contributed to the growth of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. Coffee was the most valuable and popular commodity at that time. Not stopping at domestic products, the Ottomans exported coffee to European countries.
The coffee business was the main source of profit, the Ottomans therefore strictly guarded the monopoly of cultivating this plant. No seeds are allowed to leave the country, unless it is dipped in boiling water or roasted so that it cannot germinate.
The 16th and 17th centuries witnessed the flourishing of Ottoman coffee culture, which was also the period of peak development of the Ottoman Empire. This vast empire had influence over the entire Asia-Europe-Africa regions.
Enjoying coffee deeply influenced the customs of the Ottomans. Coffee became a means of social interaction. Both men and women would chat together over a cup of coffee. Coffee shops were places where people from all walks of life met to chat and trade, inspiring literature, poetry, painting, politics…
In family life, this drink was an extremely important part. If the husband failed to provide enough coffee, the wife had the legal right to divorce.
Today, coffee remains an integral part of Turkish culture. Some rituals with coffee are still popular.
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* Coming up: Ottoman coffee civilization – more than a drink