Brought to Istanbul in 1555 by two Syrian traders, coffee became known as the “milk of chess players and thinkers”. By the mid-17th century, Turkish coffee became part of elaborate ceremonies involving the Ottoman court. Coffee makers (kahveci usta), with the help of over forty assistants, ceremoniously prepared and served coffee for the sultan.
The first record of a public place serving coffee dates back to 1475. Kiva Han was the name of the first coffee shop, located in the Turkish city of Constantinople (now Istanbul). Coffee was such an important item during that time period, that it was legal in Turkey for a woman to divorce her husband if he could not supply her with enough coffee. Turkish coffee was served strong, black and unfiltered, usually brewed in an ibrik.
Various legends involving the introduction of coffee to Istanbul at a “Kiva Han” in the late 15th century circulate in culinary tradition, but with no documentation.
Coffeehouses in Mecca soon became a concern as places for political gatherings to the imams who banned them, and the drink, for Muslims between 1512 and 1524. In 1530, the first coffee house was opened in Damascus, and not long after there were many coffee houses in Cairo.
The Dutch were given a capitulatory treaty in 1612, and they introduced tobacco into Turkey, which had first starting drinking coffee under Sulayman. Tobacco, coffee, wine, and opium were called the “four cushions of the sofa of pleasure,” but to the Muslim clergy these four drugs of the devil were debauchery.