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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.

The shoppinglist

Things to gather

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)
  • Grinder
  • Stovetop
  • Spoon
  • Espresso- or other small cup(s)
  • Scale
  • Sugar and / or cardamom (optional)

Step by step

  1. Grind the coffee to a very fine, flour-like powder
    Grind the beans into a flour like powder

    Possibly the finest I’ve ever ground. Any espresso machine will choke on this.

  2. Pour the cold water into the pot
    Pour cold water into the pot

    For every cup use ~50 grams of water

  3. Put the pot on a stovetop set to a medium high heat and heat the water until hot, but not boiling
    Heat the water until hot but not boiling

    The water is hot enough when you see any sort of bubbles forming on the bottom of the pot

  4. Take the pot off the stovetop and add the ground coffee to the pot and stir a few times
    Add the ground coffee to the water

    Add about 5-8 grams of ground coffee per 100ml of water

  5. Optionally add cardamom and / or sugar
    Optionally add sugar

    I’m using ~5 grams (1 heaping teaspoon) of unrefined sugar for every 50ml of water

  6. Stir until the cardamom and / or sugar is dissolved and the coffee has sunk
    Stir the brew a few times until the sugar has dissolved and the coffee has settled

    You can’t add anything or stir the brew after the next steps

  7. Put the pot back on the stovetop on a medium heat
    Put the pot back on the stovetop on a medium heat

    Using medium heat will prevent accidentally boiling and thus burning the coffee

  8. 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
    Heat until the foam starts rising

    The brewing process will create a crema-like foam that will make a run for it

  9. 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.
    Briefly put the pot back on the stovetop until the foam starts rising again

    When you put the pot back on the stovetop it will only need a few seconds before the foam rises to the top again

    Remove the pot from the stovetop and turn it off

    Remove the pot from the stovetop and turn it off

  10. If you’re brewing multiple cups, use the spoon to skim the foam off the surface and distribute it evenly over the cups
    Skim the foam off the surface and distribute evenly over the cups

    Don’t wait too long with skimming the foam otherwise you’ll end up with very little foam

  11. Pour the coffee into the cups and let the coffee cool down / settle for a minute
    Pour the brew into the cup(s)

    To preserve the foam pour slowly but steady

  12. Enjoy!
    Enjoy!

    Two cups loaded with energy and productivity. Right?

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.

The result

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.

Leftover grounds after drinking the coffee are used for fortune telling

I personally have no experience in fortune telling but I’m guessing it’s telling me to drink the other cup

 

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.

There are 7 more articles in the Brewing Methods series: The French Press, The Moka Pot, The Vacuum Coffee Maker, The AeroPressHario V60, Cold Brew Coffee and Espresso.

2 Comments

  • nick s says:

    5-8 grams per 100ml? I usually go with one teaspoon per cup (the small serving ones) of coffee. I assume that’s more than 8 grams/100ml. But I like the coffee strong and thick.

    • Wouldn’t surprise me if that came out to be roughly the same but in my humble opinion measurements like teaspoons are not precise enough. For an accurate measurement I always use a scale. But I agree, I like my Turkish plenty strong too 😉

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