Nearly every culture has its own tradition involving a hot beverage — whether it be tea, mulled wine or spiced apple cider.
For the Turkish, the hot beverage of choice is dark, muddy coffee known as Türk kahvesi. The drink has captivated the hearts and taste buds of generations, infusing flavor and meaning into the social experience in equal parts.
Art teacher Mesude Isikli, from the Osmaniye province, was fascinated by the ways in which the beverage represented the best of her culture. (For context, Turkish coffee was included in UNESCO’s 2013 Intangible Cultural Heritage List for its significance in Turkish history.)
She was so touched by this part of Turkish life that she decided to start collecting the vessels which make enjoying it possible: coffee cups.
After a friend gifted her an antique Turkish coffee cup as a present — the vessels are typically made of porcelain and adorned with stunning Turkish designs — she made it her mission to collect the largest number of coffee cup styles in the world.
“Conversations start with coffee in our special days…Me and my family, we really like coffee. My passion for coffee has created curiosity for the coffee mugs,” Isikli told CNN.
Over 12 years, Osikli has amassed over 3,000 coffee cups, most of them Turkish antiques. The collection is comprised of over 1,000 different types of unique cups, all of varying shapes and sizes.
“Most of them are antiques, including 120 years and 80 years [old]. They all have a memory story, because these are used and lived cups,” Osikli explained.
Though she cherishes how much the collection has grown thanks to the support of friends and family, her very first mug continues to hold the most special place on her (somewhat crowded) shelf.
“We have a saying: ‘One cup of coffee is worth 40 years of friendship.'”