Turkish sand-brewed coffee causing a stir in China

These days, when young Chinese people think of Turkey, besides the ice cream and hot air balloons, many will be reminded of sand-brewed coffee.

These days, when young Chinese people think of Turkey, besides the ice cream and hot air balloons, many will be reminded of sand-brewed coffee.

Photos and videos about Turkish sand coffee are a common sight on social-media platforms such as TikTok, Xiaohongshu and Bilibili, complete with exotic carpets, tapestries, copper stoves filled with fine sand, and little long-handled coffee pots.

In recent years, Turkish sand coffee has become increasingly popular in China, with shops specializing in the brew cropping up in several cities, including Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Shenzhen.

Unlike instant coffee, the brewing process – involving little coffee pots nestling in a bed of hot sand – has attracted attention. Many young people have begun to purchase the equipment and experiment with the process at home, thereby boosting sales for those in the business.

At the recent 18th China-ASEAN Expo, Osan, an exhibitor from Yemen, demonstrated how to make Turkish sand coffee on a stove, causing some excitement among visitors.

Osan stood with his set of copper stoves, complete with pans of fine sand heated from beneath, and an array of cups and nuts. Osan poured water into the long-handled pot, stirred in some coffee powder, and then nestled the pot in the hot sand.

"The sand heats the sides and bottom of the copper pot, so that the purest taste of the coffee powder itself can be retained inside to the greatest extent," Osan said, as he pushed the pot back and forth. The coffee boiled quickly, and the brew was poured into a waiting cup.

Among the recent Chinese converts to this rich beverage is Nini, from the city of Laibin, in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. She heard about Turkish sand coffee quite a while back, and eventually experienced the true taste of coffee.

As a visitor to the expo, Nini watched in amazement as Osan worked his magic, then sampled the resulting drink.

"It has a burnt fragrance," said Nini with a thumbs up. "It feels like a full soup sliding over the tongue when I drink it, and then it tastes a bit bitter and sour. After drinking, my mouth felt sweet, and my whole throat is very comfortable. The aroma stays in my mouth, and it is a charming feeling. It is very different from other coffees."

During the four-day expo, many buyers and locals came to visit. Osan said that coffee-making utensils and cups sold well. Customers placed orders at the exhibition site, then the warehouse delivered the goods to their homes.

As he had hoped, he not only received a large number of orders, but experienced the enthusiasm of Chinese people for this Turkish speciality.

"People don't know much about this coffee culture, but since the beginning of the year, more and more people have started to learn about it," Osan said.

His company often brings utensils to exhibitions and shopping malls to display and brew coffee on the spot, and many people are enthralled by this unique method.

"We have customers in Beijing, Shanghai, Yiwu, Ningbo and other places, and they like this Turkish style very much," he said.

"Besides coffee, this set of utensils can also brew milk tea and hot milk. I think this is one of the reasons why it has become increasingly popular," Osan said.

Due to the pandemic, international shipping rates and material costs have been rising. However, Osan is not particularly worried. In his view, China's economy is recovering well and high-quality products are still popular in the market.

He said he will continue to import Turkish coffee and promote the sand-brewed coffee culture in more places across China.

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