Ibrik coffee, Turkish mocha, oriental coffee, Egyptian or Greek coffee - All are different names for the same drink, and that’s because they use the same method of preparation, the Ibrik.
Brief history of Ibrik coffee
Ibrik coffee has been part of the Ottoman coffee culture for centuries. However, the name Mocha goes back to the Yemeni port city of al-Muchā (Mocha, Mokha) on the Red Sea. The small town used to be a central hub for coffee from the Yemen highlands.
The arrival of coffee in the Ottoman Empire is closely related to the conquest of Egypt in 1517 by Sultan Selim the Cruel. When the Ethiopian governor brought coffee beans as a guest present during a visit to Constantinople, the seeds were sown.
The first coffee house opened as early as 1544. The Ottomans were really enthusiastic about the new hot drink. According to legend, the Prophet Mohammed is said to have strengthened himself with coffee.
Sultan Mehmet IV already knew that enjoying coffee promotes socializing and communication. But for political reasons, he was not entirely comfortable with the sociability of the quickly-growing coffee culture. To be on the safe side, he pronounced a coffee ban in 1633. Several hundred coffee houses were closed. From then on, drinking coffee was punishable by death. The ban was only lifted at the beginning of the 17th century.
Since then, Ibrik coffee has been the most popular form of coffee preparation in Turkish cafes and has a high social status.
The art of preparation
There are mainly two variations of the preparation. However, they (almost) all have one thing in common: the coffee is heated in hot water - which is not yet boiling - until the aroma can fully develop. This is in contrast to most brewing methods that use a type of filter. However, in this case, the coffee is unfiltered and thus more intense in flavour.
The two variations are these:
- Using a micro-burner or stovetop
- Using hot sand
Using a micro-burner or the stovetop is the most common way to brew this style of coffee because these are things you will find in every household. The sand coffee maker is a rare sight and you usually see these only in coffee shops.
The main difference is that, when using the micro-burner or the stovetop, the heat is applied directly at the bottom of the Ibrik. Thus it’s heating the water from below. The hot sand, on the other hand, heats the Ibrik a bit more uniformly because most of the device is buried in it. Both ways can result in a delicious cup of coffee!
What is the right grind for the Ibrik?
The coffee is ground as finely as possible - it should have a similar consistency to white flour. Most common grinders are not able to achieve this fine degree of grinding - so one usually uses pre-ground coffee for the Ibrik.
How much coffee you need to use?
The amount of coffee is measured in teaspoons, about 4g of coffee per cup. Normally, the water is put into the pot first, then sugar (if desired) and lastly the coffee. Then the coffee and sugar are stirred until the coffee has sunk to the bottom of the device and the sugar has completely dissolved.
Which cup should you use?
Traditionally, Ibrik coffee is enjoyed in small demitasse cups, almost the same size as the espresso cups. However, in recent years, many also use larger cups or even mugs, so it just depends which way you want to enjoy the coffee.
How to serve the coffee
Ibrik coffee is always served hot. It is usually served with a glass of cold water to refresh the palate before enjoying the coffee. It is typically served with sugar and can be seasoned with spices (such as cinnamon, mastic, cardamom).
All the coffee is poured into the cup, but not all of it is consumed - the coffee grounds remain on the bottom. Many also serve the coffee with a biscuit or a Turkish delight.
You can find my brewing guide for the Ibrik here!
Tasseography: A fun fact
I saved a fun fact for you for the end of this brewing guide! Ever heard of tasseography? It’s actually a fortune-telling method and a very old tradition that probably originated at the end of the 17th century. In contrast to other such methods, tasseography uses coffee grounds to interpret patterns and predict the future.
Since Ibrik coffee leaves a residue of grounds at the bottom, many fortune tellers used to turn the cup upside down and when the grounds were set in a specific pattern, they were trying to interpret that pattern for the person who drank the coffee.
If you think about it, this method is probably the oldest coffee brewer in the world. The concept is so simple, just add coffee and water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Isn’t it cool that people have been doing this for centuries?