Coffeehouses are a cultural, social tradition centuries old that crosses continents. The first coffeehouse is believed to have opened in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1555 as quoted by Ibrahim Pecevi:
“Until the year 962 , in the High, God-Guarded city of Constantinople, as well as in Ottoman lands generally, coffee and coffee-houses did not exist. About that year, a fellow called Hakam from Aleppo and a wag called Shams from Damascus came to the city; they each opened a large shop in the district called Tahtakale, and began to purvey coffee.“
As I open the door to La Spiaza, I drink in the aroma of coffee and am immersed in this social place serving up all types of caffeine beverages pressed, dripped and blended. A coffeehouse is much more than just a place selling espresso, it’s where philosophy is discussed, conversations are shared, and music or comedy acts may appear.
“In England, coffeehouses were dubbed penny-universities, because for the admission price of one cent, a person could sit and be edified all day long by scholars, merchants, travelers, community leaders, gossips, and poets.” Leah Hager Cohen author of Glass, Paper, Beans: Revelations on the Nature and Value of Ordinary Things
This particular coffeehouse hosts music nights with new bands (Falling Slowly or Tiny Folk are just a few of the musical acts from La Spiaza viewable on vimeo.com) providing them an intimate stage in a neighborhood place to perform. Local artists work adorns the walls lit by lighting hanging from the tin-pressed ceiling. There are bookshelves in front and back of the cafe with books and board games.
While my beverage was brewed up, I watch people play cribbage, surf the Internet and read books. I receive inspiration from historical figures’ quotes on coffee that are written on the restroom wall.
I sip my hot foamy caffeine drink as I steep in the casual, brewed cultural tradition all around me.
If you are interested in reading about more traditions, visit Where’s My Backpack Travel theme: Tradition.