Canadians constantly drink large mugs of coffee with cutsie names like “Irish cream”, “Cuzco”, or my favourite “Belgian chocolate”. The small sizes are large enough to make you feel as if your insides are drowning in coffee, while the large sizes can indeed comfortably drown a small elephant. Coffee-sellers are millionaires- I understand Mr. Tim Horton, the proud owner of the chain of Tim Horton coffeeshops is a millionaire ten times over, though personally I find his coffee tastes of sour ash, and prefer `Second Cup` or `Just Us`.

Canadian coffee is a hot thin liquid which leaves a mildly sour after-taste, and smells slightly of the paper cup it is served in. It never ceases to surprise me how, in this country full of coffee-mad  people, there is no Turkish coffee.

For the past twenty something years, almost every Friday afternoon I would drink Turkish coffee made by my father. In fact, I think one of reasons I immigrated to Canada was that in the last few months I was in Tehran, my father had stopped making Turkish coffee and my younger brother did the honours. It just wasn`t the same. My mother also made wonderful Turkish coffee, but as she insisted on reading your cup and predicting your future from the brown stripes left behind, and her readings were uncomfortably accurate, I preferred my father`s brew, which was free from emotional baggage.

Turkish coffee is made by mixing two heaped teaspoonful of coffee for every drinker with one flat teaspoonful of sugar and water in the special Turkish-coffee-pan thingy which can only be bought from the special Turkish-coffee-seller in downtown Tehran. (I suppose you can get it from Turkey too, only I never saw any during my trips in Antalya and Istanbul). The mixture should be heated, but not boiled, and not stirred, until a creamy bubbly foam forms at the top. The resulting liquid should be poured carefully in the tiny beautiful special Turkish coffee cups (again, only obtainable from downtown Tehran). The favoured guest will have most of the browny foam (called the gheimagh-not an Iranian word), or the host(ess) can try to divide the gheimagh between the cups.

The cups are about the third of the size of your average Canadian coffee mug, and fantastically decorated, with matching saucers. I had a set of white china with curved, high gilt handles. I wonder what`s happened to it. The coffee is drunk slowly, in tiny sips.

Although the coffee was poured in small portions, my father would cheat, count himself as two and pour a huge mug for himself, and set it aside, drinking it with about one hundred lumps of cube sugar. His son-in-law had observed this habit of making himself a cup of coffee twice the size of the others, and conceived a wish, never to be granted in my father`s house,  of drinking the same amount of coffee from an ordinary mug, instead of a tiny portion of coffee in beautifully painted tiny china cup.

 Come to think of it, and listening to the howling December wind which frightens the golden boy, Turkish coffee and its tiny portions are not so suited to Canada after all. You need the huge slosh of hot steamy chain coffee to deal with this climate and this stranger lifestyle.



  1. Bill Scheinman

    Come to most villages , small cafes and a lot of homes here in Israel
    and you can find your “Turkish Coffee”. Also that “thingy” is called a finjan in Israel and can be bought at most “corner stores” here. I do admit that it is hard to find real Turkish coffee in Turkey probably because most Turks prefer Tea.

  2. bitemymoko

    Tim Horton, a professional ice hockey player, died in a car crash on Feb. 21, 1974. Perhaps you meant that his heirs and business partners are millionaires.

  3. thenewcomer

    Whoops- sorry about that bitey, sloppy fact-checking, thank god it wasn’t an essay! TENG- YOU told me Tim Horton was a millionaire and had ten yaghts!!!

    To Bill: I’ll pass on the visit to Israel if you don’t mind, as I still have my dearest family members in iran and what to visit them without dropping in Evin en route….
    “finjan” in farsi refers to the tiny teacups… the thingy is called ‘ghahveh-joosh” (coffee-boiler). And yes, my experience also confirms that Turks are as tea-crazy as Persians.

  4. teng

    sorry for the bad info,
    i read it somewhere, im sure.

    anyway, it was useful info: atleast we found out that tim horton was a real human, and not just a name, like starbucks.

    I like the tim coffees better that the others. i know its the cheapest, but most others arent really fresh

  5. thenewcomer

    I had guessed he was a real human- Tim Horton is such an average name nobody could actually choose it. The Just Us! in the kenneth rowe building (management) brews you fresh coffee under 2 dollars (I think). Why do you think Tim’s is fresher than the others? It certainly doesn’t taste that way.

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