An Old Coffeehouse // (Taş Kahve) - Cunda Island

Coffeehouses have an important role in Turkish culture where people can drink several types of traditional drinks -such as Turkish coffee, tea, lemonade, 'oralet' (orange flavored powder drink) and also spend most days hanging out for social purposes. These places can be declared as social meeting points for different aged-people with the needs of discussing the recent news of the country, carrying gossips of the neighborhood and being relaxed as playing card games and Rummikub. 

 

In Cunda Island, the historic coffeehouse called Taş Kahve (masonry coffeehouse) has been a favorite spot for the locals, especially for the old men who have been living in this old Aegean town -once owned by Greeks- at the coast since the 1930s. Every time I visit the island, it's a routine for me to watch these old men playing games, and I'm all ears their talks about the rates of currency, rising prices of groceries, the situation of the country accompanied by rhythmical noises of coffee beans grounded at the back side of the coffeehouse. 

 

Overlooking beautiful views of the Aegean sea studded with colorful fisher boats, sitting on nostalgic straw chairs which I hope would make me feel calm and let it flow with the slowness of time. Incidentally, I notice the faces in front of me are the same as the other year's. These old men are at their own pace, without any rush, they play and joke with each other, as they are sipping the drinks ordered in sequence. 

 

As I think of this historical place, I suddenly remember the times I read 'The Old Man and the Sea' while following swallows zigzagging from their nests to the door, regular customers, who are already familiar to me, getting together in different teams to play cards and the waiters bringing "Ayvalık Tostu" (a mixed toast special to Aegean town of Ayvalık) one after another. I soon discover that there is something special about this island coffeehouse which makes me crave for a Mediterranean-Aegean feeling of letting go and slowing down. 

© 2023 by Deniz Yılmaz Akman

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