In a world dominated by regular coffee staples like the Espresso and Latte, it is reassuring that there are some countries that still possess some of their own unaltered, age-old coffee traditions. In Turkey, nothing feels and tastes more exclusively Turkish than the smell and taste of a good cup of Turkish Coffee.
What is Turkish coffee?
What is the difference between Turkish coffee and regular ground coffee? Firstly, Turkish coffee is always ground into a very fine powder. This powder is then boiled in a small Turkish coffee pot called a cezve or ibrik. Turkish coffee is served in a small espresso-like cup. The Turkish coffee grounds are available in different variations like medium to dark roast. They also sometimes contain spices like cardamom, which makes Turkish coffee somewhat similar to its relative, Arabic coffee. However, Turkish coffee is distinctly different from Arabic coffee in its color and taste. Arabic coffee is golden brown, like the desert sand, while Turkish coffee is a foamy dark-chocolate brown color, not too far off from regular medium roast coffee.
History Of Turkish coffee
Turkey’s first encounters with coffee originated back in 1517, when a Turkish governor in Yemen, Ozdemir Pasha, gave some ground coffee to Sultan Suleyman, The Magnificent. Shortly after, Turks developed their own new method of preparing the coffee. They finely ground the coffee beans into a fine powder and used a special copper pot called Ibrik or Cevze to brew it slowly using fire or hot sand.
That was the start of coffee becoming a strong part of the Ottoman tradition. In the mid-1600s coffeehouses in Turkey became places for hot debate among citizens, especially regarding religious and political issues. This lead to anger within Ottoman leadership, even to the level of shutting down some coffee establishments.
The rise of tea in Turkey
In the 20th century, due to the lack of supply of coffee during the great wars, tea gained prominence. More and more farmers began growing tea, especially in the Black Sea region of Rize, which has since become synonymous with Turkish tea. In the years that followed, tea consumption has surpassed that of coffee in Turkey, to the level that Turkey has become one of the leading tea consumers in the world.
Turkish coffee Traditions
Turkish coffee has a strong and important place in Turkish history. Therefore, historically, the art of making a good cup of Turkish coffee has been very important. So much so, that a man would decide on his life partner, based on how well she could make Turkish coffee. The tradition was, and to a lesser degree still is, ceremoniously, that when a young man visits the home of a girl is is interested in marrying, she would make and serve him a cup of Turkish coffee. If the coffee was good, then this would be a good sign.
On the other hand, it is said that the girl would sometimes intentionally add salt to the coffee to test the love and commitment of her suitor. Thus, if he persisted in finishing this very unpleasant cup of Turkish coffee, it would be a sign of his strong love and commitment.
Famous Coffee shops in Turkey
Coffee shops in Turkey are not just places where you get your daily dose of caffeine. The coffee shop has become a chill zone for young and old alike. Istanbul features an unlimited number of coffee houses. I am always discovering new coffee hideouts. I am just in love with the experience, and I would recommend visiting these places for an authentic cup of Turkish coffee:
- Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi
- Fazil Bey’s coffee shop
- Tarihi Bagdat Kurukahvecisi
What Does Turkish Coffee Taste Like?
Although I am not a coffee lover, Turkish coffee is my favorite and I enjoy a cup devotedly, every single day. It has a special aromatic taste that other coffees don’t have. The coffee has a slightly bitter taste, quite strong in flavor, thick and dense in texture with a frothy top. In Turkish coffee culture, the coffee is served in small porcelain cups, of which half of it is just the sediment. So the thick remaining part is not for consumption.
How to order Turkish coffee in Turkey
To order a cup of turkish coffee that best meets your preference, choose one of the sugar levels below:
- Şekersiz or Sade : With no sugar added
- Az şekerli: With a little sugar
- Orta şekerli: Medium sweet
- Şekerli: Which means sweet
Making Turkish Coffee
I have seen different ways of making the Turkish coffee, thus far. The first one is when they use that traditional pot called a cezve / Ibrik to brew the coffee slowly on a stove. And the modern way is using the machine (A kind of a coffee machine) where you add the coffee and sugar and the machine adds the water depending on the size of your cup selected.
But I still think that the traditional way is way better and authentic. When you watch the foam rise slowly to the top of the pot, that’s when you know that your magic drink is ready. Turkish people love their coffee ritual and they drink it all the time, usually after meals. When you visit a Turkish family, they make sure to give you a freshly brewed cup of Turkish coffee. It is also a must-serve during their traditional occasions such as engagements and weddings.
Preparing Turkish coffee at home can be possible even without having an Ibrik. You can improvise by using a small pot or saucepan. The smaller the pot is the better. Bear in mind that a successful and perfect cup of Turkish coffee should have a thick layer of froth on top.
What do you need to make Turkish coffee?
Making Turkish coffee is quick and easy and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. There are several easy and innovative ways to make Turkish coffee, using basic items that you can find in your kitchen.
The Turkish coffee pot
The traditional and most common way to make Turkish coffee is using the cezve, which is a small copper pot with a handle.
Making Turkish coffee without a cezve or ibrik
If you don’t own a cezve then you can use any other small saucepan or metal teapot that goes on the stove. The smaller the pot, the better. The idea behind making Turkish coffee is very simple. It is boiled for a few minutes on the stove and then immediately poured into serving cups. That’s it. Some refer to this method as cowboy coffee, since it resembles the old American way of making coffee in the Wild West.
The cheapest way to make coffee ever
A regular Turkish coffee pot, cezve, can be purchased for as little as 2 USD on the streets of Istanbul. To be honest, the only cheaper way to make coffee would be to boil it in an old baked-beans tin.
Turkish coffee machines
There are several types of coffee machines on the market. They come in different shapes and sizes but all work on the same concept. They consist of a cup that heats up the water until the coffee is ready. These devices do make it easier to make Turkish coffee but I still think the old school way is better and produces more foam and a better smell.
Turkish coffee recipe and method
- Ingredients: cold water, Turkish coffee, sugar
- cooking time: 10 minutes
Recipe for a single cup of Turkish coffee
- Step 1: Fill your teacup with cold water and transfer all the water to your cezve of teapot. Then add another one third of a cup of water to the teapot, to compensate for the boiling. This will ensure that you get a full cup of Turkish coffee when you are done.
- Step 2: place your pot on medium heat on the stove. do not cover your pot, it should be open at the top
- Step 3: for a single cup add a teaspoon of your Turkish coffee (grounds) powder. Due to its powdery nature, you may find that the spoon tends to pick up a heap, automatically. Don’t bother to level the spoon. You will be able to alter your quantity each time, depending on how strong you like your coffee.
- Step 4: Add your desired amount of sugar. I think that coffee is enjoyed best without sugar.
To stir or not to stir
- Step 5: Now you need to sit back and let your coffee do its thing. Some say it’s a good idea to give your mix a small stir, which creates a lovely golden foam. Others say that you should wait for the coffee to sink on its own.
- Final step: Once you see the top start to thicken, remove your pot from heat just before it starts to boil, as you do not want to over boil your coffee. then pour your coffee straight into your cup and give it a few seconds to settle before diving in.
There is no need to filter or separate the liquid from the muddy coffee powder. Due to its fineness, the coffee powder will automatically sink to the bottom of your cup.
How to serve Turkish coffee
Turkish coffee is usually served in a small teacup, accompanied by a glass of water and a sweet, to counter the bitterness.
Turkey has retained one of the world’s oldest coffee drinking traditions, in Turkish coffee, that has remained somewhat unchanged until the current day. An acquired taste to some, Turkish coffee has become an international sensation. Many favour Turkish coffee because it is relatively cheap, easy to make and most importantly, something different. Turkish coffee has stood the test of time. It has survived wars and revolutions. It has even managed to hold out against the onslaught of its major rival, tea.