If you thought using an Italian espresso machine was the only route to short, strong shots of coffee, you evidently haven’t tried Turkish coffee.
Indeed, coffee was popular in Turkey long before it penetrated the rest of the world. Syrian traders first brought coffee to Istanbul (then known as Constantinople) back in 1555. By the seventeenth century, coffee was an integral part of Turkish culture.
Turkish coffee is typically made on a stove, but is sometimes made in bazaars in a pan filled with hot sand.
Turkish coffee is much thicker and stronger than the regular coffee we drink. This is because the Arabica coffee beans used for Turkish coffee are not filtered out.
This type of coffee is very finely ground and looks like a powder. Turkish coffee has a bitter, earthy taste. Cardamom is sometimes added to some varieties of Turkish coffee during the grinding process.
Some people use milk, but original Turkish coffee is always served black.
The most important thing about Turkish coffee is the foam. It must have a good foam on top. Which is why any ingredients in traditional Turkish coffee are mixed together before it’s placed on the stove. Serving Turkish coffee without proper foam is considered a real insult.
You make Turkish coffee in a copper pot with a handle called a cezve. The cezve looks like a saucepan and comes in different sizes, depending on how many cups are required.
Traditionally, Turkish coffee is served in a small coffee cup and saucer with a couple of pieces of Turkish Delight on the side. A small glass of water is usually served with coffee to cleanse the palate afterward.
How can you make this exotic creation from the comfort of home, then?
I. Turkish Coffee 101
The primary noteworthy aspect of Turkish coffee is that you use an unfiltered brewing process to make it.
In plain English, you infuse your coffee in water before it’s boiled. Spent grounds will sit at the bottom of the pot.
By brewing unfiltered, you get a thick and intense coffee that’s both strong and bold.
The other element that sets Turkish coffee apart from regular coffee is the use of cardamom or sugar during the brewing process. By sweetening the coffee this way instead of after pouring, you get a real depth of sweetness otherwise unobtainable.
Turkish is typically served with a glass of water on the side to help you cleanse your palette between sips, often with accompanying delicacies like Turkish delight.
So, how to make Turkish coffee the easy way, then?
Well, we’ll show you how you can bring this thick and gloopy coffee home, with or without specialized equipment.
II. Making Turkish Coffee With an Ibrik
To make traditional Turkish coffee, you’ll need a traditional pot known as an ibrik or a cezve.
Now, whether or not you choose to invest in an ibrik and embrace the authentic brewing method hands-on, you should always use arabica beans. Try a medium roast and see how you find it. Using dark roasts for Turkish coffee is inadvisable. An integral part of the brewing method involves roasting, so you might end up with a coffee that’s too strong and possibly scorched if you start with darkly roasted beans.
What You Need
- Turkish-style grinder
- Traditional pot (ibrik or cezve)
If you do not have a specialized Turkish coffee grinder, make sure you use a grinder offering a finer setting than you would use for espresso. The end result you’re looking for is coffee ground so finely it appears powdered.
What You Need To Do
- Fill your ibrik with water
- Heat the water on the stovetop on medium
- Add 2 heaped teaspoons of extra-finely ground coffee for each 3oz of water in the ibrik
- Avoid stirring the ibrik at this stage, even if you’re tempted!
- Add sugar to taste. Again, do not stir the mixture yet
- You’ll see the coffee start sinking, while the sugar will start dissolving. Turn the heat to low and start stirring the mixture. You should see a foam start to form
- Remove the ibrik from the stovetop
- When the foam starts to rise, return the ibrik to the stovetop
- Repeat this foaming stage once or twice to taste
- Serve your Turkish coffee with some dates and Turkish Delight, as well as a glass of water
III. Making Turkish Coffee Without an Ibrik
Here’s how to make Turkish coffee like a pro, even if you don’t have an ibrik and you don’t want to buy one.
What You Need
- Turkish-style grinder
What You Need To Do
- To make a cup of Turkish coffee, take a heaped spoon of Turkish coffee for each cup. For a medium sweet coffee, add an equal measure of sugar. A sweet-toothed person needs a spoon and a half of sugar
- If you’re having milk with your Turkish, now is the time to add it
- Once you’ve added the sugar – and optional milk – shake the pot
- Measure some water in the cup then add it to the pot. If you add water after adding coffee, it creates a better foam, something you should be striving for if you’re looking to replicate traditional Turkish
- At this stage, use a teaspoon to stir the coffee, water, and sugar. It’s vital to mix everything thoroughly before it goes on the stove. This will prevent the coffee from burning
- Place the pot on the stove and turn it on. It’s important to get it simmering on a low heat
- As the coffee heats up, you’ll notice the foam edges rising slightly. Don’t remove from the heat, or you’ll lose the foam. Let the foam rise nicely. This is what makes a perfect cup of Turkish coffee
- When you’ve got this in place, remove the pan from the heat. If you’re making more than one cup of Turkish, spoon foam into each cup
- Slowly pour your coffee into the cups. Be careful not to lose that precious foam as you pour.
- Traditionally, Turkish delight is eaten to add a touch of sweetness. If you add sugar and stir the coffee once it’s poured, you’ll lose the foam
While you can undoubtedly get a highly concentrated coffee from the best home espresso machines, if you’re looking for something intoxicatingly different, why not give Turkish coffee a try?
Make sure you use a specialized grinder to get the super-fine grind you need, and then choose whether to invest in an ibrik for traditional Turkish, or whether to use our workaround for Turkish coffee made on the stovetop.
Either way, you’re in for a treat if you master the simple art of making great Turkish coffee.
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