Regional Coffee Guide: Turkish Coffee
Brewing up a few cups of tasty Turkish coffee can be the perfect way to welcome guests into your home. This century-old method of brewing coffee makes for a deliciously smooth, frothy cup of joe that you’ll find impossible to make just once.
The History of Turkish Coffee
Contrary to what the name implies, Turkish coffee was actually not invented in Turkey at all. It was invented in modern-day Yemen at a time when the entire Middle East was ruled by the Ottoman Turks. Sometime around the early 16th century, the governor of Yemen discovered the beverage and decided to introduce it to the Sultan, or ruler of the Ottoman Empire.
It didn’t take long for its popularity to spread. It quickly became a staple of the nobles and elites and, before long, people across the empire were drinking it. In fact, Turkish coffeehouses were briefly banned entirely as the rulers thought that people liked to talk about politics over a cup of coffee--and they probably weren’t wrong.
Since its introduction to the Ottomans, Turkish coffee has slowly weaved its way into Turkish culture itself. In fact, it was such an integral part of the Ottoman Empire that people across the Middle East still drink coffee this way today.
A Strange Proposal
Turkish coffee is so ingrained in Turkish culture that they actually have a wedding tradition that revolves around it. Before the bride and groom are formally set to marry, the groom and his parents visit the home of the bride-to-be.
The groom prepares a cup of Turkish coffee for each of her guests. In the traditional manner, she adds sugar to the parents’ coffee. For the groom's coffee, the bride-to-be may use salt rather than sugar in order to gauge his character. If the groom drinks the coffee without a negative reaction, the bride-to-be can safely assume that the groom has a good temper and would be a suitable husband.
However, in some regions, the opposite is true. If the groom’s coffee has salt it may be a sign that she does not approve of the marriage. So don’t be too jumpy to throw salt in the coffee of someone you fancy, they might take it the wrong way.
How To Brew Turkish Coffee
The secret to the delicious cup of joe known as Turkish coffee lies in its unique brewing method. Not only is the brewing method unique, but the container used to do so is as well.
Cezve (or Ibrik)
Unlike a lot of coffee, Turkish coffee is actually brewed in single portions. It is traditionally brewed in a small bronze or copper pot called a Cezve in Turkey or an Ibrik in most of the rest of the world.
Turkish Coffee Ingredients:
- Finely-Ground Coffee
- Sugar (Optional)
- For lightly sweet, add ½ of a sugar cube
- For moderately sweet, add 1 sugar cube
- For very sweet, add 2 sugar cubes
These measurements are for one coffee cup since Turkish coffee is brewed in single portions.
Brewing Turkish Coffee
First, mix the coffee grounds and cold water in the cezve/ibrik until well-combined. Don’t be too aggressive with the mixing. If you want your coffee sweet, add the sugar now, not when the coffee is brewed.
Secondly, put the pot on low heat on a stove or other heater. Stir occasionally.
Next, wait for the coffee to heat up. When it is about to boil and begins to foam, remove it from the heat. Use a teaspoon to scoop the foam into the coffee cups, and return the pot to the heat.
Once the coffee begins to boil, pour it into the cups and enjoy!
Brewing Turkish Coffee Without A Cezve Or Ibrik
If you don’t happen to have one of these cute Turkish pots, don’t worry! You can still brew up this cultural classic. All you’ll need is a small saucepan, the smaller the better. If the pan is too big, you’ll need to brew more coffee in order to get the necessary amount of foam.
Tips To Make The Best Turkish Coffee
- Sprinkle in a little cardamom, mastic, salep, or ambergris. Although this isn’t the true traditional method of brewing, these spices are commonly associated with Turkish Coffee.
- Use cold, filtered water. Why not use clean water? And do NOT use warm or hot water, this defeats the purpose of Turkish Coffee.
- Use very fine grounds. Since the coffee grounds are not removed from the coffee after brewing, you don't want noticeable chunks floating around in the coffee.
- Use the lowest heat possible. A longer brewing process allows more of the coffee’s flavors and aromas to be absorbed.
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