Turkish couple aim to establish a museum to promote Turkish coffee culture


ANKARA, OCT 1: A Turkish couple’s coffee collection is known to be one of the largest private collections related to Ottoman and Turkish coffee culture in the world, and Nihal and her husband Murat Sungur Bursa now aspire to establish a coffee museum.

Turkish coffee, considered a part of the Turkish cultural heritage, was placed in UNESCO’s ”Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” list in 2013.

Turkish coffee combines steps and stages of serving and brewing techniques with a rich communal tradition, while the tradition itself is a symbol of hospitality, friendship, refinement, and entertainment, the Bursa couple said.

Their collection contains thousands of rare items displaying the refined coffee culture that emerged in the Ottoman geography and spread to other parts of the world.

The couple started their collection with three exquisite porcelain coffee cups around three decades ago.

Their interest in coffee culture has grown into a collection, built piece by piece that they acquired during travels worldwide, auctions, street bazaars, and antique shops over the years.

The wide range of more than 5,000 items in the collection covers traditional equipment and vessels for preparing and serving coffee, roasters, coolers, mortar and pestles, grinders, boxes for storing, special coffee pots, cups, and censers, as well as printed matter and ephemera, the oldest pieces dating back to the 17th century.

All these equipment and vessels show the ceremonial character of Turkish coffee and its decorum.

In 2015, Bursa Family loaned some items of their collection to the exhibition “A Drop of Pleasure: 500 Years of Turkish Coffee” at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. Nihal Bursa contributed to the exhibition book by authoring one of the chapters titled A Decorum of Pleasure: Material culture of Turkish coffee from seed to cup. In the same year, the exhibition, Turkish Coffee: Energizing the body+Feeding the soul, was organized in the Turkish Pavilion in Milan EXPO 2015.


Recently, some items from the Bursa Collection have been hosted in the exhibition Coffee: East&West organized by the Mayer Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem, comprising one of the three major sections of the exhibition that display the Ottoman and Turkish coffee culture.

In the historical and holy city of Jerusalem, the exhibition opened its doors to visitors in July.

Objects on display represent the rich coffee culture of the Ottoman-Turkish period, the Bedouins, and coffee-making equipment from more than 30 countries.

It is very common to have temporary exhibitions in private and public museums in all parts of the world. One may ask, ”what makes this coffee exhibition so exemplary and different from others?”

Director of the Museum Nadim Sheiban, who closed down the weapons gallery at the entrance soon after his appointment, has approved the preparation of the coffee exhibition. Sheiban said rather than rifles, bows, arrows and swords, Islam is a religion that supports peace just like coffee has historically done.

Historical objects from among the Bursa family coffee collection were selected and moved to Jerusalem with exactly the same idea Murat Sungur and Nihal Bursa had. They were thrilled when they received an invitation from the museum curator Yahel Shafer to contribute to the coffee exhibition.

During the following months, pieces related to Turkish coffee culture had been carefully selected from the private collection of the Bursa family living in Istanbul and made their journey to Jerusalem.

The exhibition was organized at the Jerusalem Islamic Arts Museum.

Murat Bursa said Turkish coffee ceremonies can be organized during receptions held for foreign country representatives, adding: ”The Turkish Republic is only a century old, but we enjoy heritage from thousands of years by pointing out the same tradition at the Ottoman Court had.

”Tea ceremony in Japan is so admirable and exemplary, just as the Turkish Coffee Ceremony in our culture.”

Collecting and contributing to the Turkish coffee culture is a lifetime endeavor for the Bursa couple. Murat Sungur Bursa is a mechanical engineer, a retired senior bureaucrat, manager in the private sector, and once the CEO of an energy company. He is currently the chairman of the Sustainability Academy in Istanbul. Nihal Bursa is an architect with her degree from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, where she also served as a professor. She is currently the head of the Department of Industrial Design at Beykent University in Istanbul.