A fellow coffee addict on Reddit gave me a gentle nudge in the direction of Turkish Coffee. Turkish Coffee is not a specific type of bean but one of the oldest methods of preparation known to mankind.
Turkish Coffee, a true origin story
There are a countless theories on how, where and by who coffee was discovered. Some claim that the initial discovery was made in Ethiopia in the 11th century. The Ethiopian people however were said not to use the beans of the coffee plant. Instead the Ethiopian people boiled the leaves in water and the resulting brew was used for medicinal purposes. The coffee plant spread to other parts of the world and one of those places was Yemen, where coffee was initially said to be consumed the same way the Ethiopians did.
It wasn’t until the 15th century that a Yemeni shepherd noticed that his goats got overly active and happy after eating the berries of that same coffee plant. The shepherd then took the berries to a few wise men who then declared it a “sacred medicine”. Afterwards the berries were boiled into a drink and it was used as a balm for medicinal purposes as well.
In the mid 1500’s, in the palace of the Ottoman governor of Yemen, a new way of brewing coffee was discovered. First the berries (or beans) were roasted over a fire and then very finely ground. Afterwards those grounds were slowly boiled in water. After that discovery, coffee spread like wildfire from palaces all the way into peoples homes. People bought raw, green coffee beans and then roasted them in a pan over a fire. They then ground the beans with a mortar and boiled it in a special pot called a cezve.
Turkish coffee is also, to a lesser extent, known as Arabic Coffee. Egyptian, Lebanese, Syrian and Iraqi coffee, as well as many others are all variations on the same basic concept. However they all have subtle differences in preparation, flavor and / or presentation. A few other names for the brewing pot or cezve are kanaka, džezva, xhezve, jazzve and μπρίκι (bríki).
Unlike any other coffee
Unlike the Brewing Methods I have covered so far, this method does not actively filter the ground coffee out of the brew before consumption. Instead the brew is left to sit for a few minutes before consumption allowing the particles to settle at the bottom of the brewing vessel or cup. The coffee is also ground a lot finer than the previous methods, in fact it should be ground even finer than what you’d need for espresso. To get a consistently fine grind I recommend using a good burr grinder. Handgrinders, with the exception of a traditional Turkish grinder, will not be able to achieve a fine enough grind.
As with the Vacuum Coffee Maker, I had to go out and buy gear for this method as well. Luckily this was some of the cheapest coffee equipment I ever bought.
- Freshly roasted coffee (5-8 grams per 100ml, depending on taste, or 1 heaping teaspoon per 3 ounces of water)
- Water (~50ml per cup)
- Cezve (brewing pot)
- Espresso- or other small cup(s)
- Sugar and / or cardamom (optional)
Step by step
- Grind the coffee to a very fine, flour-like powder
- Pour the cold water into the pot
- Put the pot on a stovetop set to a medium high heat and heat the water until hot, but not boiling
- Take the pot off the stovetop and add the ground coffee to the pot and stir a few times
- Optionally add cardamom and / or sugar
- Stir until the cardamom and / or sugar is dissolved and the coffee has sunk
- Put the pot back on the stovetop on a medium heat
- Keep a close eye on the pot. When you see the brew trying to rise up out of the pot quickly lift the pot off the stovetop
- Once the foamy top has collapsed back into the pot, briefly put it back on the stovetop until it starts to rise up again. Optionally you can do this once more.
- If you’re brewing multiple cups, use the spoon to skim the foam off the surface and distribute it evenly over the cups
- Pour the coffee into the cups and let the coffee cool down / settle for a minute
Turkish Coffee has been around for centuries and as a result there are many ways to make it. Some people add the sugar or cardamom and the coffee to cold water and then heat it all together. Some let the foam rise twice, other three times and I bet there are even people who do it four times. The foam is another part of discussion, some skim it off the top after it rises the first time and then heat the brew once more before adding the coffee to the cups. Others don’t bother with the foam at all and just pour the coffee into the cup. Some people let the coffee settle / cool down in the pot before pouring into the cups, others let it cool in the cups.
Adding sugar, cardamom or both is really just a matter of taste. If the brew is to bitter for your taste then make sure to add a little sugar next time. If the coffee is too sweet or sugary, you can always use less sugar.
Turkish coffee is most definitely a very different cup of coffee. If you haven’t tried it yet I very much recommend that you do. The equipment needed can be bought very cheap and it let’s you play with a ton of different variables to tweak the flavor of the cup to your liking. To top it all off, people even use the leftover grounds after drinking Turkish Coffee for fortune telling. They put the cup upside down on its saucer and then use the patterns for a fortune telling method called Tasseography or Tasseomancy.
If you have any questions, suggestions or comments please leave them below. If there is a specific method you would like me to write about please let me know. I very much appreciate it when you share these articles with friends and / or family.