Strong and flavorful, Turkish coffee is highly popular in many places all over the world. It is unfiltered to deliver a high concentration of caffeine that can attract any coffee lover. That is not to mention the cultural aspects of this special drink. But, the best part is that you can easily brew it right at the comfort of your home. Let’s take a look at how to make Turkish coffee and a few important facts to know.
What is Turkish coffee?
Turkish coffee is a unique method of preparing and brewing originated in European and Middle countries, especially Greece, Iran, and Turkey. A typical recipe includes mixing finely ground coffee beans, sugar, and water, then heating it to the foaming stage, right below boiling.
Traditionally, people often brew Turkish coffee in a pot called an ibrik or cezve. But any small heat-resistant cup, pan, or pot can also work. After the liquid reaches the desired stage, both the brew and coffee grinds are poured into mugs. Once the coffee grind powder settles on the bottom, you can enjoy the remaining part.
Compared to other coffee recipes and preparation methods, Turkish coffee does not filter the grounds while brewing. This leads to much higher caffeine content and stronger taste. People often add a moderate amount of sugar, but the drink can be served unsweetened. Some spices and herbs can also be included to improve the flavours.
A short history of Turkish coffee
Turkish coffee has a very rich history of nearly a half millennium. Syrian traders first brought coffee to Istanbul in the 16th century, and in the next few decades, it quickly became an important part of sacred ceremonies in the Ottoman Empire. Coffee makers served coffee to the sultan, and women were trained to brew perfect coffee for their husbands.
Coffee houses were opened in the whole city and became professional. This led to more detailed brewing methods and techniques that make Turkish coffee so unique and different these days.
With the growth and prosperity of the Ottoman Empire, the drink was spread to other regions in the Middle East and Europe. People loved it and made Turkish coffee become one of the richest coffee cultures in the world.
Health benefits of Turkish coffee
As Turkish coffee is typically stronger than other forms of coffee, it might provide some great health benefits. With a high concentrate of caffeine, a natural stimulant, this drink can improve mental and athletic performance, both in energy levels and reaction time.
This substance can also protect the brain against some neurological issues, especially Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease.
Since Turkish coffee is left unfiltered, it might contain many beneficial compounds. For instance, chlorogenic acids are powerful antioxidants that can reduce inflammation, stabilize blood pressure, and improve cholesterol or blood sugar levels. The benefits can be clearly seen when you use finely ground coffee beans rather than large-sized options.
In addition to these benefits, studies have shown an association between coffee consumption with reduced risks of some diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, liver cancer, liver cirrhosis, endometrial cancer, and depression.
Potential side effects
Though Turkish coffee would provide many health benefits, it may also bring a few side effects. Some people often add sugar, which can have negative effects on the body.
Consuming a sweetened coffee occasionally will not harm your health, but regular intake would increase the risk of diabetes, high triglyceride levels, and obesity. So, it is better to limit sugar and replace with other alternatives like stevia, cinnamon, or cardamom.
Another possible drawback is its high caffeine concentration. If you are sensitive to this substance, it would lead to anxiety, sleep difficulty, and other effects when consuming caffeinated beverages. More importantly, caffeine would raise blood pressure. Thus, people with this condition should avoid Turkish coffee.
How to make Turkish coffee
Before starting, you need to prepare the following ingredients for one cup:
- 50 millilitres water
- 3.5 grams finely ground coffee
- 1 to 3 teaspoons sugar
Step 1: Measure ingredients
Turkish coffee is often served in a small cup with a strong taste and flavour. Ideally, you should prepare around 3.5 grams of coffee grounds for each cup, which is equivalent to 2 teaspoons. While there are many varieties, Arabica beans are the most popular types for Turkish coffee.
The simplest to measure an adequate amount of water is to pour it into a fincan, a special cup used to drink Turkish coffee. Each serving should contain around 50 millilitres or 1 and ½ fincan.
Sugar or sweetener is an optional ingredient, depending on your personal taste. There are basically 4 levels of sugar in Turkish coffee. These include:
- Sekerli: very sweet – more than 3 teaspoons (around 15 grams)
- Orta: sweet – 2 teaspoons (around 9 grams)
- Az seker: moderately sweet – 1 teaspoon (around 5 grams)
- Sade: unsweetened – no sugar
Step 2: Grind coffee beans
Since Turkish coffee is not filtered, it is necessary to grind your coffee beans very finely. This task can be done with an electric grinder using the finest mode or a special mill used for Turkish coffee. In case you do not have these tools available at home, it is possible to have it done at the grocery store.
To save time, you can buy pre-ground coffee blends. Ideally, your ground beans should look like cocoa powder with a soft texture.
Step 3: Mix ingredients
Turkish coffee is traditionally brewed in an ibrik, also known as a cezve. This is a small pot made of copper or brass with a long-handled. Put all of the ingredients into this tool and mix them thoroughly by stirring. Consider adding 0.25 grams of cardamom to boost the flavour.
You can purchase an ibrik in any speciality coffee shop. In case you cannot find it, it is still possible to brew Turkish coffee with a heat-resistant cup or small saucepan.
Step 4: Heat the coffee
Place the ibrik on an electric or gas stove with low heat. Stir the mixture thoroughly in 60 seconds and let it brew. After 3 to 4 minutes, a layer of dark foam will show up around the ibrik’s rim. This is one of the most special things that contribute to the strong taste and robust flavour of Turkish coffee.
Step 5: Raise the coffee
Make sure to look for the foam but avoid stirring it. If the coffee is going to boil, remove the pot from the heat in several to cool it down. Remove the ibrik from the oven and pour the foam into a cup with the help of a spoon.
Brew it for an additional 20 seconds before putting the ibrik back to the heat. This would allow the coffee to rise again, meaning that it would come close to the boiling point and create new foam.
Many traditional methods often suggest 3 to 4 raisings, which includes removing the ibrik from the oven, pouring the foam into a cup, and returning it to the oven.
However, some people only do this one time or even not at all. You should experiment with different options and choose these best taste or flavour for your preferences.
Step 6: Pour the coffee
After the last raising, wait for an additional 20 seconds and remove the ibrik from the oven. Pour all contents into the cup, including grounds and foam. Dot it slowly so that the bubbles and foam stay safe. Serve it immediately once the coffee is still fresh and hot to enjoy the strong taste and robust flavour.
Check out the following clip to learn more about the brewing techniques and tips to make Turkish coffee:
How to serve and drink Turkish coffee
Turkish coffee is unique not only in the brewing methods but also in the way people serve and drink. You want to make sure the following things to embrace this special coffee culture.
After pouring the coffee into the cup, clean any spills on the side or rim with a damp cloth. Put the cup on a saucer to prevent spilling while drinking as well. Wait for around 30 seconds until the grounds sink to the bottom before sipping. This can help you enjoy it better.
In Turkey and other countries, it is often considered impolite and disrespectful to serve young people before old ones. So, if you make coffee for a family gathering or important occasions, make sure to serve the oldest person first. Follow the age order, from eldest to youngest.
As other types of coffee, you can drink a cup of Turkish coffee with some sweet snacks or small treats. This can complement the beverage and improve your experience. Some common options to consider include candies, chocolates, and cookies.
You should also prepare a glass of water to clean your mouth before drinking and neutralize its strong taste after each sip. That way, you would make the most out of this special beverage.
Since Turkish coffee is strong and small, it is better to sip it slowly in small amounts. This will give you more time to enjoy the drink and talk with other people. More importantly, smaller sips can bring more air and bring out the flavours in your coffee. Avoid the last 1 or 2 sips because they contain the settled coffee grounds on the bottom of the cup. Otherwise, your mouth can be full of bitter and dark substances.
Useful tips to make Turkish coffee
Below are a few small tips to help you make delicious Turkish coffee with the desired consistency and taste:
1. Choose freshly ground coffee beans
Avoid using coffee beans that are stored for a long period because it is hard to create the desired foam. Instead, make sure to go for fresh options. You can maximise the freshness of your coffee by keeping it in an airtight container in the fridge.
2. Use cold, fresh filtered water
You should never make Turkish coffee with hot or warm water. Otherwise, it is impossible to create a unique flavour and taste. For the best tasting recipe, always use filtered water that is fresh and cold.
3. Use low heat
What sets Turkish apart from other types is the dark layer of foam showing up during the brewing process. You can only achieve it by setting low heat on your oven. Otherwise, the coffee would boil and spill the ibrik, which eventually changes the taste and flavour of the coffee.
4. Do not add milk
A special feature of Turkish coffee is its strong aroma. You do not want to ruin your experience by adding milk. Of course, it is possible to add a bit to have a mild taste, but do not expect your drink to be frothy.
5. Clean the ibrik carefully
After brewing, make sure to clean your ibrik properly. Otherwise, it would affect the taste and flavour of the next coffee. Luckily, this is a simple task that can be done with a towel and warm water. Avoid using soap or abrasive scrubber.
Troubleshooting common issues
There are two common problems that many people often have when brewing Turkish coffee. Perhaps you already experienced them and are looking for a good solution. So, here you are.
1. The coffee is too bitter
The problem is not uncommon in brewing Turkish coffee. Almost everyone faces it in their first time making the drink. This is probably because you over-extracted from the coffee grounds. There are two ways to resolve this issue: heat in less time with a slightly higher heat to get the foam quicker; or reduce the heat on the stove or lift the ibrik a bit to slow down extraction
2. There is not foam
Foam is a unique feature of Turkish coffee. When you do not see it appear during the brewing process, it can be seen as a failure. The main cause can be the heat level of the oven. As said above, you should always use low heat and temperature. Make sure to check this and adjust your burner or stove accordingly.
Turkish coffee is a tasty and exotic drink that can give every coffee lover a fresh experience. Even when you cannot find it at the local coffee shop, it is simple to brew in your own kitchen. Grasp your coffee and enjoy the day!