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30 Postcards: Turkish Coffee In Izmir


A history of coffee against a Turkish backdrop.

"A small-town guy with a big-world viewpoint. Never in, always out. Educated and an educator. Classy and sassy. Intent on raising the science of travel to an art form. Wired, connected and impactful."

Those are a few of the words and phrases Kevin Richberg uses to describe himself -- and that's just the tip of the iceberg. You'll remember the MIT-educated marine biologist-turned-travel writer from his 30 First (Gay) Dates project. In the years since, Richberg's lost the romance aspect but kept the passion as he expanded his travelogue to the world at large, taking travel guidance from strangers through The 30 Postcards Project.

One of the postcards he received came from a woman named Ozlem, who suggested Kevin try authentic Turkish coffee. He thought this was splendid advise, so Kevin headed to Izmir, Turkey, to get a taste for the country's most famous flavor. Here, the eye-opening, educational and easy-on-the-eyes results.

As Kevin explains:

"Almost all of us are completely addicted to it today, but 500 years ago it didn't exist. Well, it existed, just not in the Starbucks version we know today. The two meter tall shrub we now call the coffee plant could only be found naturally in the highlands of present day Ethiopia, and it was there that Sufi monks first began using the plant's seeds to stay awake during morning prayer.

"It was the Ottoman Turks who saw first harnessed the coffee bean's commercial appeal, inventing Turkish coffee, essentially the world's first grande venti caffe, and amodern traveler to Asia Minor can still sample its original version to this day.

"In this episode of 30 Postcards I explore what it means for Coffee to be Turkish, and how strong this particular preparation can be. It's actually quite easy to make it for yourself at home, with the right grounds and the essential cezve, a traditional copper pot. Just don't drink more than three in one sitting, a lesson I learned the hard way."

This the first in a series of video diaries from Kevin's far-flung adventures abroad. Check back tomorrow for the next installement, which takes viewers to The Philippines.

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