Turkish coffee is not your average method of brewing coffee. This form of brewing coffee is filled with culture and has a rich history, although Turkey has not always been known for brewing the most flavorful or high-quality coffee. However, the specialty coffee movement has made it possible to brew excellent Turkish Coffee. Since 2016, World Coffee Events has hosted a competition using the Ibrik or cezve brewer, which is the pot that is used to create Turkish Coffee. Since then, the competitions have been a form of proof that Turkish Coffee does have a valuable place in the specialty coffee world.
What is Turkish Coffee?
What is Turkish Coffee? Turkish coffee brewing is one of the oldest methods of brewing coffee in the world today, having been around since the early 1400s. There are two different stories when it comes to how this method of brewing coffee was first invented, and nobody is entirely sure which one is correct. The first story is that local coffee brewers were discovered by the Ottoman governor of Yemen, who was impressed with the drink and shared it with the Sultan, spreading it around the empire. Alternatively, it might have started when two Syrian traders arrived in Istanbul with coffee brewed using the Turkish brewing method, opening shops around the city selling the best Turkish coffee Istanbul that are visited by the Sultan who loved the drink. Either way, whichever story is the correct one, we do know that the Ottoman Sultan was definitely a big fan of the drink, and the Turkish coffee brewing method originated from the Arabian Peninsula, also known as Yemen.
In Istanbul, the first coffeehouses were opened in around the year 1470 and modeled after coffee houses in Yemen. All the coffee was brewed using the Turkish coffee method, as far as we are aware. Back then, they would even judge a woman’s marital potential by how well she could make Turkish coffee.
How Turkish Coffee is Made
Turkish coffee is made using a very small pot or Turkish coffee pan that is filled with hot water and very fine coffee grounds. The Turkish coffee stove or pot is known as a cezve, while the rest of the world knows it as an ibrik. Most are made with brass, copper, or ceramic and a long wooden handle. The majority are made from plain materials, although you can get them elegantly decorated.
The pot is filled with water and coffee grounds before being held over a heat source to start the brewing. When grinding the beans for Turkish coffee, it is important to make sure that they are extremely finely ground. It makes a cup of coffee that is very concentrated and can often be quite bitter and sludgy, although specialty coffee makers have come up with ways to brew this type of coffee without resulting in any bitterness. To balance out the bitterness of this coffee, the drink is traditionally served with a sweet treat like a slice of cake or Turkish Delight.
Alternative Names for Turkish Coffee
Although most of the Middle East and Eastern Europe used to call this method Turkish Coffee, many have abandoned the name. This is due to the fact that the Ottoman Empire was known for brutality and did not leave a very good impression on neighboring countries. When it became Turkey after the empire fell, many neighboring countries began to refer to this coffee brewing method by different names. For example, you will find ‘Bosnian coffee’ recipe options in Bosnia, Armenian coffee in Armenia, and in Greece, a Turkish Greek coffee pot simply brews ‘Greek Coffee’. While they are all the same thing, Turkey lost their monopoly on the name of this coffee brewing style due to the unpopularity of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey.
Turkish Coffee Strengths and Weaknesses
While Turkish Coffee might not have traditionally created the best-tasting brew, it is a brewing method that is currently being revolutionized and transformed by the specialty coffee movement, which has led to more balanced and flavorful Turkish coffee after centuries of the drink being traditionally bitter. However, this method of brewing coffee is not for everybody, as it results in a small amount of intense and concentrated coffee that can be quite gritty since no filter is used in the brewing process.
Along with this, making your own Turkish Coffee that actually tastes good is not always easy since after centuries of it being traditionally a very bitter drink, there’s not as much information out there online for those who are looking to brew coffee this way, compared to using other brewing methods. For this reason, there can be quite a steep learning curve for anybody looking to get into brewing Turkish Coffee.
Is Turkish Coffee The Right Brewing Method for You?
It is certainly not for everybody, and with other, easier, and less bitter methods of brewing coffee available, it’s no surprise that Turkish Coffee is not the top option on many people’s lists when it comes to how they want to brew their coffee. However, this method of coffee brewing might be an ideal one for you to try if you are fascinated by coffee methods that are old, exotic, and have a rich and significant history. If this sounds like you, then you will probably enjoy giving Turkish Coffee a try.
On the other hand, if you like your coffee to be as simple and easy to make as possible, while tasting consistently great each time, Turkish Coffee might be one that you want to miss, at least for your main brewing method for the cup of coffee in the morning that gets you going throughout the day. If you don’t like grit ground in your coffee, this is probably a method you’ll want to avoid since without a filter it gets very gritty. On the other hand, if you appreciate a challenge and a learning curve, brewing coffee using this method might be worth trying.
Tips for Getting Turkish Coffee Right
As with any method of brewing coffee, it is important to always start out with coffee beans that are freshly roasted and ground before making Turkish coffee. This is especially important when brewing using this method since there is a higher risk of over-extraction and bitterness compared to other methods. Once you’ve selected the right coffee beans, keep the following in mind to get Turkish coffee right:
- Grind the beans finely: The beans for Turkish coffee should be ground to a very fine powder; even finer than espresso grounds. It should have a flour-like consistency and the finer, the better. If you can’t feel individual grounds anymore, you are doing it right.
- Get the coffee to water ratio right: While you’d normally use around one gram of coffee with 16ml of water, Turkish coffee is much more concentrated, and uses a 1:9 coffee to water ratio. Use a kitchen scale to make sure that you get this right and avoid grinding more coffee than you need.
- Get the water right: Along with using filtered water to avoid allowing compounds in that can change the taste of the coffee, it’s important to get the temperature right too. A Turkish coffee should never reach boiling point, but you do need to allow it to get very close. When brewing, you are looking out for a fine foam appearing on the top of your coffee. This happens when the coffee oils and air combine, but the water is not boiling.
- Remember there is two parts to the brewing: The first part of brewing happens in the ibrik, and it will continue brewing in your cup. Since there is no filter used, the coffee grounds are so fine and the water is so hot, your coffee will continue brewing even after you pour it.
Making Turkish Coffee Step By Step
To make a Turkish coffee, you will need:
- Fresh roasted coffee beans
- Coffee grinder
- Filtered water
- Kitchen scale or coffee scale
- Paddle or stirring spoon
- A heat source
- Preheat your stove on a low-medium setting. For two cups of Turkish coffee, pour 120g of water into the ibrik, and grind 14g of coffee into very fine coffee grounds before pouring it into the water.
- Place the ibrik on your heat source and allow it to sit for thirty seconds, before using the paddle or stirring spoon to stir the coffee grounds into the water.
- As the coffee heats, you will begin to see small bubbles form. Keep a close eye on these and if they begin to reach boiling point, lift the ibrik off the heat slightly to allow it to cool.
- You should begin to see a thick foam forming in the ibrik. Allow the foam to rise until it reaches the top of the pot, before removing it from the heat.
- Quickly pour all of the coffee and the grounds into your two cups. Allow the coffee to continue brewing in the cups and cool down for around 2-3 minutes. The grounds will also settle in the bottom of the cup during this period.
While it might not be the first coffee brewing method you think of, Turkish coffee is an interesting option worth trying. Search where to buy Turkish coffee near me to give it a try.