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The History of Turkish Coffee

Iley Özerlat from Özerlat coffee talks about the history of the drink that her ancestors have dedicated their lives to perfecting: “Turkish coffee is one of the oldest ways of making coffee in the world, dating back to before the 16th century. It was first introduced in Cyprus by families emigrating from different parts of Anatolia during the rule of the Ottoman Empire and ever since, Turkish coffee became an integral part of Cypriot culture.”

In the early days, making coffee at home was an arduous process, consisting of roasting green coffee beans in pans, grinding them with hand mills and cooking on burning coal. On a daily basis people would make all this effort just to enjoy a small cup of this beverage.

“The craft has been passed down from father to son”

As the story goes, in early 1900s, my great grandfather Derviş Tahmis Özerlat wanted to provide roasted and ground coffee to Cypriots and so opened a coffee shop underneath his house in Nicosi, selling hand-ground Turkish coffee in paper cones that he made. We have of the family business is a picture of my great grandfather with two apprentices taken in 1917. He was the first person to sell freshly roasted and ground Turkish coffee in Cyprus, roasting the beans in a wood fired cooker and grinding by hand. The craft has been passed down from father to son. When my father took over he developed a way to incorporate the traditional method with modern machinery that still keeps to the original recipe.

It’s probably the purest way to drink coffee – there are no additives, just water and coffee mixed together in a pot and cooked over stove and served unfiltered. Despite being one of the oldest coffee traditions, Turkish coffee is generally neglected in the world coffee scene. Our aim is to dust off this tradition and with a great quality product reintroduce it as a world class beverage.

We went to Cyprus and working with the expert – my dad – created our Mozaik blend, which formed the perfect couple with our Heritage blend – a slightly lighter roasted version of our trademark coffee. The difference between them is the type of beans used. The Mozaik blend contains Colombia Arabica mostly used in espresso beans as well as Brazil Arabica, this combination adds a slight acidity to the taste, which adds that ‘punch’ to the smooth taste of our Turkish coffee. If you want to try it at home, you can buy our coffees on our website – we deliver anywhere. Özerlat Turkish coffee is now also available on

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