If you have even a passing interest in coffee, chances are you’ve heard about Turkish coffee.
Perhaps you’ve tried this distinctive drink before and you just want to learn how to make it at home.
Maybe you have only gone as far as espresso but never actually sampled traditional Turkish coffee.
Either way, we’ll walk you through the mechanics so you can widen your repertoire of brewing methods.
So, whether you’re a Turkish coffee virgin or you’re an old hand, learning how to make coffee this way isn’t that hard.
Before we get down to business, though, some background first.
I. Brief Background
Turkish coffee is fully entrenched into the country’s culture. Even the Turkish word for breakfast – Kahvaltı – means before coffee.
Coffee arrived in Istanbul way back in 1555. Syrian traders were responsible for introducing coffee and it was rapidly embraced by the Turks. Shortly after this introduction, the first coffee shop opened for business in Constantinople.
Once established in Turkey, coffee started spreading throughout eastern Europe while also crossing into north Africa and the Middle East.
By the 17th century, coffee was more than a beverage in Turkey. Coffee had become a vital component of tradition. From meetings to marriage customs, this method of brewing coffee became central.
Today, Turkish coffee remains one of the most social and beloved traditions so what makes coffee brewed this way stand out?
II. Characteristics of Turkish Coffee
The first thing to note about Turkish coffee is that it’s an unfiltered brewing method. What does this mean, though?
Well, the coffee is infused in water before being boiled. The leftover grounds typically remain at the bottom.
The result of this brewing method is a thick, bold coffee that’s remarkably rich and usually pretty strong. It’s so strong, in fact, that it’s frequently served with an accompanying glass of water. You can then sluice your palette between sips of joe. As such, Turkish coffee is absolutely not to everyone’s liking.
The other differentiating factor with Turkish coffee is the way it’s frequently brewed with sugar or cardamom. This is a sweet spice often used in eastern cookery. Sweetening the coffee during the brewing process rather than adding sweetener afterward adds a deep layer of flavor.
Another tradition of Turkish coffee is the accompanying sweets like Turkish delight rounding out a taste sensation.
Sounds tempting, right?
Luckily, you don’t need to worry about heading to a specialist coffee shop or hunting high and low for anything exotic.
Instead, we’ll show you how to make Turkish coffee at home the easy way.
III. How To Make Turkish Coffee with an Ibrik
Firstly, we’ll outline how you can use the Turkish brewing method with an ibrik. This is the classic Turkish coffee pot, also commonly called a cezve.
A word about the beans…
Regardless of brewing method, Arabica beans are better than Robusta beans.
That said, you can get a serviceable cup of Turkish with the normally inferior Robusta making this a highly versatile brewing method.
In terms of roast profile, roll with a medium roast as a reference point. We suggest this since a core part of the process of brewing Turkish involves further roasting. Start off with a extremely dark roast and you could end up with coffee that’s too strong even for real caffeine hounds.
What You Need
- Turkish grinder
- Ibrik or cezve (traditional pot)
Note: If you don’t have a specialist Turkish grinder, check if your existing grinder has a dedicated Turkish setting. In terms of grind size, you want your coffee extra fine, even finer than you’d use for espresso. The finished texture should be so fine as to be practically powdered.
What To Do
- Add water to your ibrik
- Heat the pot on medium until you see the water begin to heat up
- Add a couple of heaped teaspoons of your extra-fine coffee grounds for every 3oz water. You should not stir at this stage
- Sweeten to taste with sugar. Avoid the temptation to stir
- Watch as the coffee starts to sink and the sugar – if you added any – starts dissolving. At this point, turn the heat to low and begin stirring. A foam should start to form
- Look for the appearance of a ring. Turn the heat down further or remove your ibrik from the heat source
- Always ensure that your water stays off the boil but you should keep heating it as you stir. This will enhance the foam that’s building and dramatically improve the taste. Stick with the foaming stage until you see this start to rise
- Remove the ibrik from the heat then pop it back on again. Repeat the foaming stage once or twice
- Serve with dates, Turkish delight or straight with a glass of water on the side
IV. Importance of Pot and Cups
Before we show you how to rack up some Turkish if you don’t have specialist equipment, what’s the significance of that traditional pot?
The classic ibrik or cezve is small with a wide bottom and elongated handle. This comes out an upward angle from one side.
Sizes range from dinky single-serve brewers holding just a few ounces right up to 12oz ibriks so you can cater for the whole family.
The cups used for Turkish are normally made from thin porcelain. This helps the drink to stay warmer for longer. Some cups have a copper holder and lid.
Now, while all this gear undoubtedly helps and allows you to bask in the traditional brewing method, here’s how to make Turkish coffee without the ibrik…
V. How To Make Turkish Coffee Without an Ibrik
We’ll break down the simple equipment you need to make Turkish coffee without that traditional pot:
What You Need
- Turkish grinder
- Heat-tolerant cup
What To Do
- Grind your beans extra-fine in just the same way as if you were planning to brew up in an ibrik
- Add your water to a cup that’s highly heat-resistant
- If you want to sweeten your coffee, add sugar at this stage. If not, add your coffee grounds to the water
- Stir the water and coffee until well mixed
- Heat over medium heat until you see the foam starting to form. When this foam looks like it’s about to overflow, remove the cup from the heat then replace after a few seconds
- Repeat this process with the foam if desired
- Serve in small cups and allow to settle for a minute after pouring. This enables the sediment to make its way to the bottom instead of ending up in your mouth
Note: Avoid bringing the water to a boil as oils are extracted directly before boiling point. This should generate the optimum flavor.
1) What is an ibrik?
An ibrik, also called a cezve, is a small traditional pot made from brass or copper. Sometimes, these pots are made from silver or gold. With a long handle and a special lip to promote pouring, this is the classic equipment used for Turkish coffee. The structure of these pots ensures the coffee and water blend well. They are also designed to preserve the integrity of the foam when you start pouring.
2) Can I make Turkish coffee without an ibrik?
For sure. Although an ibrik is the optimum device, you can still brew up Turkish-style using a heat-resistant cup as outlined above. You’ll need to watch the temperature closely. You’ll also find there’s less froth when you’re brewing with a larger pot. To this end, aim to use the smallest pot possible for your needs.
3) Is Turkish coffee extremely strong?
Since the coffee remains unfiltered, Turkish coffee is typically super-strong. This is the primary reason it’s often served with water. In terms of caffeine content, you’ll find Turkish coffee is stronger than drip coffee but not quite as strong as espresso.
4) Is it normal for Turkish coffee to be slightly gritty?
Yes, this is due to the lack of filtration. You can mitigate this to some extent by ensuring your beans are as finely ground as possible. Nevertheless, you should expect some sediment.
5) What grind size do I need for Turkish coffee and can I grind my own at home?
You need to grind the beans to the consistency of powder. The grind size is even finer than you’d use for espresso. You can certainly take care of this at home. We always advise grinding your beans directly before brewing whatever brewing method you’re using. Turkish coffee is no different.
6) Is it possible to use a manual grinder for Turkish coffee?
Absolutely. Indeed, the low speeds generated with manual grinders means you won’t end up with your beans overheating. The obvious downside is that you’ll need to put in a fair amount of physical effort. This is compounded since you need a super-fine grind. As a hands-on way of embracing this traditional brewing method, though, manual grinding is well worth considering.
7) What’s special about Turkish blends of coffee?
While you can use any type of coffee with this brewing method, Turkish blends are understandably optimized for this style of brewing. Espresso blends are the next closest in terms of specialty blend.
8) What other nationalities embrace this style of brewing coffee?
Turkish coffee is now famous and enjoyed the world over. It’s particularly popular in the Middle East and in Cyprus, Syria, and Tunisia.
9) Is Turkish coffee healthy?
This is a nuanced question. Bottom line, coffee brewed in this way is just as healthy as any other type of coffee. Moderation is the key. Start drinking ten cups a day and you’ll almost certainly notice negative effects starting with problems sleeping. Stick to a few cups during the earlier part of the day and you should be absolutely fine with Turkish.
10) How should I serve Turkish coffee?
Grab yourself a large tray and load it up with some glasses of water to serve on the side. This helps you to cleanse the palate between sips of coffee. Prepare your coffee just before you intend to serve so the foam and temperature are both optimal. You should serve some sweet pastries or cookies on the side as an extra touch. Turkish delight or baklava also work wonderfully as an accompaniment to strong, sweet Turkish coffee.
11) What’s the importance of the foam on Turkish coffee?
When you make Turkish coffee the right way, you should notice a thick and dark layer of foam across the top. This is termed kaimaki in Greek. Where the crema on espresso is created through heat and pressure, kaimaki comes about through heat alone. If you can’t see this on top of your Turkish, something went wrong. Maybe you used too little coffee. Perhaps you didn’t heat the water sufficiently. Or you could have got the grind size wrong. Stale coffee can also cause this issue. In some more more hardline eastern countries, it’s actually considered a grievous insult to serve coffee without this foam.
Well, we very much hope you’ve enjoyed this detailed guide to making Turkish coffee the easy way.
Whether you choose to go all-in with the traditional ibrik, or you just fancy trying your hand at making Turkish coffee in a cup, follow the steps above and you should have no problem at all.
Remember to focus on getting that grind size right to minimize the amount of sediment you’ll encounter.
Take your time, embrace the whole ceremony and enjoy some great Turkish-style coffee next time you’re in the mood for something strong and sweet.
In closing, don’t forget to bookmark La Mano as your one-stop resource for all things coffee-related. See you soon!