One of the best things in the world is coffee. I’m not the type to run out to get coffee everyday from your local coffee-shop, but I do enjoy coffee when I do drink it. My coffee is usually never accompanied by anything sweet. If I go to a local coffee-shop I may get a cookie or piece of cake to go along with it, but that’s whenever I go to a coffee-shop. Unfortunately, I find myself too busy to stop at a coffee-shop unless I have free-time. I have a really cool friend that I tend to sit to have coffee/tea with at the local coffee-shop every now and then. My dear friend and I would walk to the local coffee-shop and just chat over our drinks. The coffee-shop isn’t very far from us, so we usually take our five-minute walk and end up spending hours just discussing the world around us. One day, my dear friend and I visited with a few other women to discuss some important business at hand and one of the women criticized this form of socializing. She stated that this leisure-activity was a waste of time and unproductive. I thought to myself, “How could she say that?”. However, I saw her point because many of the times in which I would sit with other women would be to just discuss important matters without much immediate action. However, I have found myself learning from these coffee-house discussions and growing from them. In addition, many people may call this past-time very middle-class. Unfortunately, I am a full-time student and work part-time, so I can’t say I am enjoying something specific to just the middle-class. I guess I am somehow clumsy when it comes to how I choose to spend my money, but these visits to coffee-houses aren’t a regular activity of mines. In addition, coffee-houses, atleast in early Turkish-history, served as a means for military-stratagems to be thought of for future battles and expeditions. So, if this is the case than who said coffee-houses are unproductive and a waste of time? They are the opposite. They provide opportunities for thinking, planning, and dialogue.
Not only do these coffee-houses provide a platform for independent-thinking, but they provide close relationships with others. I was invited over my dear friend’s home this morning at 1AM. So, I got on some clothes and went to her apartment. Of course, we were much delighted to see one another even at such an odd hour of the day. However, we proceeded to start our natural conversations about trivial and big things. And not very long afterwards, she made some Turkish coffee with Turkish delights accompanying our drinks. As we sat to enjoy our coffee and sweets, I noticed that my dear friend poured us both some water to go along with our coffee. So, after pouring water I kind of felt compelled to ask her why she poured water since we had coffee. However, she soon told me that in Turkey they would serve you water alongside your coffee. In serving the coffee, sweets and water together this allows people to take their time to enjoy their outing at the coffee-shop and with their company. I found this very interesting because I have seen so often the total opposite. I have seen people rush to the local fast-food place or coffee-shop to get coffee for work in the mornings or for that extra jolt of energy. So, in many ways, in my opinion, there is that absence of conversation and the true meaning of the local coffee-shop is sometimes stripped away. The whole essence of the coffee-shop originated from Islam and the Islamic-values of hospitality and keeping close relations with others. However, in some coffee-shops this is not always the case since many people are on the go. My dear and beloved friend is Indian, but born and raised in Saudi Arabia and many of the things she shared with me reflected an appreciation for people and conversation. We sat and just talked in her apartment for hours in the early morning hours, but it was okay. It was okay because coffee and sweets usually draws people closer to each other and this is the exact purpose of coffee-shops. In a Spring 2009 issue of “Abroad View: The Global Education Magazine For Students,” Leah Shaffer spoke about Turkish coffee in her article called “Turkish Coffee” that “The first coffee to arrive in Turkey was brought by the Yemeni in 1543 during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish people responded to the new coffee craze by establishing the world’s first coffeehouses a little more than 10 years later. Not unlike the atmosphere of Starbucks, they became places for people to read, play chess, and discuss music, art, and the latest town gossip”. So, I found this very interesting because we created a space within her apartment that resembled a coffee-shop. However, in early Turkish-history, coffee-shops were mainly male-dominated with women finding other spaces, usually at baths, their personal homes and salons. So, I felt quite interested in learning more about coffee-houses in a broader sense. It wasn’t until my dear friend allowed me the pleasure of experiencing her Turkish-coffee with Turkish delights that I was able to see the true beauty in quality versus quantity. There was something about being able to sit down, have conversation, and relax over a nice cup of coffee with a friend. The coffee was not overpowering, but just right. It fulfilled it’s purpose of being pleasing and memorable.
However, I must say there’s something very interesting about this whole coffee-shop movement. So, I thought I would do a little research about this. In reading, I found it interesting to look at the similarities/differences with 16th Century Turkish-coffeehouses and 21st Century American-coffeehouses:
1. In the Ottoman Empire and during 16th century Turkey, the coffee-house was a place for men to gather and socialize. The drinking of coffee was a substitute for alcohol since Islam forbids the drinking of such beverages. Usually, people(men) would attend these coffee-houses after performing their five daily prayers including the Jumuah (Friday Prayer) as a means into catching up, building relationships, and forming alliances. Also, time is important but not really as important due to the reality that many people would say “inshALLAH” in recognition that only God wills what to happen. To show this point about time, “And, as an old Turkish
proverb states, one cup of coffee is worth 40 years of friendship. According to
Bisbee (1951), The prime ingredients of the Turks’ idea of fun and amusement seem to be relaxation, imagination, sociability and humor. Sitting is almost, if not
quite, the most popular recreation of all. Turks sit at windows, in gardens,
at coffeehouses. . . anywhere and everywhere they can see a pleasing view
and relax in conversation. (p. 145)”.
2. In 21st century American-society, the coffee-shop is an exploding venture for many middle-class individuals, as stated on http://independentsofprinciple.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/why-coffee-houses-foster-independent-thinking/. The coffee-shop brings about independent thinking and diversity, no matter how relevant or irrelevant a conversation may be. It presents a segment of society that fosters an atmosphere of thinking, debating, dialogue, and openness. Also, the coffee-shop in many American-neighborhoods are not restricted or limited to just men.
So, in seeing and being apart of this coffee-house movement I can say that it brings about a part of society that is missing for a few of us. It brings about conversations, independent thinking, relationships and dialogue. Sometimes we live fast-paced lives and never sit down to know the next person. I try to slow down my life by writing or reading, but it’s still very hard. In a world that is constantly modernizing its becomes a task to slow down when the world is racing forward. However, I have learned a lesson beyond sitting in a coffee-shop. I have learned the beauty of just knowing people. In many instances, the coffee-shop can be our homes, our local shops, our local schools and etc. It doesn’t have to stay or be isolated to just the coffee-shop. It can be extended to all places. Whenever I go out shopping at a local business, I always see shop-owners being greeted by their regulars and in return, shop-owners would smile graciously and ask how are things with the family. This always leave a soft spot in my heart. On the other hand, I think we have become very mechanical too. We sometimes lack true genuine care for others. We may have bumped into someone and we keep walking. Or if someone greets us with a smile we think that person is a tad bit weird. It’s just sometimes we just make things alot harder on ourselves and others. The purpose of the coffee-shop is to make human-relationships better, to construct better people within society, and to allow for diversity in whatever context you put that in. There’s nothing wrong with stopping to just breathe. There’s nothing wrong with just having a cup of fresh, brewed coffee in the morning and reading the paper. There’s nothing wrong with having intimate conversation over a pastry in the late evening hours. Life shouldn’t feel rushed and you shouldn’t feel obligated in being rushed. Just slow down. Enjoy life. Let your soul melt through some intimate conversation and good cup of coffee.
1. Gannon, Martin. “The Turkish Coffeehouse.” N.p.: n.p., 2010. 79-94. Understanding Global Cultures: Metaphorical Journeys Through 29 Nations, Clusters of Nations, Continents, and Diversity, Fourth Edition. SAGE Publications, Inc., 31 May 2012. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. .
2. Shaffer, Leah. “Turkish Coffee World: Little Cup, Big Tradition.” Turkish Coffee World: Little Cup, Big Tradition. Abroad View: The Global Education Magazine For Students, May 2009. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. .
3. “Why Coffee Houses Foster Independent Thinking.” Independents of Principle. N.p., 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. .