Turkish coffee is a small but rich cup of coffee that originated in Turkey as early as the 15th century. The Turkish have an expression for the way Turkish coffee should be made: as black as hell, as strong as death and as sweet as love. Turkish coffee is a cousin of the Italian drink, espresso, and it is believed that this coffee is the oldest way of brewing coffee beans.
Historically, there was a lot of ceremony surrounding brewing and serving the demitasse of coffee, especially when it was being served to royalty. Until recently, a potential bride in Turkey was judged on how well she could make a cup of Turkish coffee and if the woman was not keen on her suitor, she would purposely botch the brew. Nowadays, Turkish coffee is served casually in restaurants all over the Middle East and the US, and there is much less ritual surrounding the caffeinated drink.
Learn how to make the ancient drink the way it has been made for centuries, with just a few modern pieces of equipment added to make the process a bit easier.
- Turkish coffee grounds or beans
- Bottled or filtered water
- Castor sugar
Optional Beginning Step: Grind the Coffee Beans
If you have been fortunate enough to find freshly roasted Turkish coffee beans as well as a Turkish food mill, you can grind your own beans for the coffee. Because the grounds, water and sugar are all being mixed together and there is no filtering, it is crucial that the beans be ground very finely to a talc-like powder. If you do not have a Turkish food mill, you will need to buy the beans pre-ground.
Step One: Measure Your Ingredients
The proper combination of ingredients in Turkish coffee is important. Make sure to get them right to ensure the best cup of coffee.
- Water: Using cold or room temperature bottled or filtered water; fill up the espresso cup you intend to use for drinking, then dump it into the ibrik.
- Coffee: Measure two teaspoons of coffee and pour it into the water.
- Sugar: Pour two teaspoons of sugar into the water and coffee mixture.
Unlike typical coffee, all three ingredients are to be combined before the brewing process begins. This is why the coffee beans must be so finely ground. This is also why castor sugar is recommended — of all sugars, it dissolves the most quickly. If castor sugar is unavailable, standard granulated sugar is acceptable. Stir all of the ingredients together before placing them on the heat source.
Step Two: Heat the Coffee
Place the ibrik directly on one of the burners. One of the nice things about the ibrik is that it can handle any type of heat source. Coals are best, but most restaurants or homes do not have coals lying around. Gas flames are next best, followed by electric burners. No matter what the heat source is, it should be set as low as possible so that the water is slowly heated.
Step Three: Scoop the Foam Off
As Turkish coffee boils, foam forms on the top. This foam is widely thought to be the tastiest part of the coffee, but it disappears shortly after the water starts boiling. Remove the ibrik from the heat and, using a teaspoon, scoop the foam off the top of the coffee and place it in the espresso cup. Return the ibrik to the heat source. This step can be repeated up to three times.
Step Four: Let the Coffee Boil Again
This should only take a few moments after it has been brought to a boil once. Once another layer of foam has formed, remove the coffee from the heat.
Step Five: Serve the Coffee
Once you have determined that you have enough foam—most avid drinkers repeat steps three and four several times—pour the coffee into the espresso cup. It is not necessary to serve the coffee with a spoon since there is already sugar in the mixture, and stirring the coffee will dissolve the foam you worked so hard to develop on the top of the coffee. Also, remember to serve the coffee with a cup of ice water on the side in accordance with tradition. The exact orgin of the traditional is not know, but it has been done this way for centuries.
Step Six: Drink the Coffee
Turkish coffee is meant to be sipped, not gulped. If you are not careful when drinking the coffee, you will wind up drinking all of the grounds. It is expected that a bit of the grounds will be ingested, but it is ideal to try as much as possible to avoid drinking the grounds.
Turkish Coffee Decanter