Welcome to the rich world of Turkish coffee. A centuries-old tradition, Turkish coffee is known for its strong flavor, unique preparation method, and integral role it plays in Turkish culture.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the art of brewing Turkish coffee at home, offering step-by-step instructions, tips, and tricks along the way.
But this isn’t just a recipe guide—it’s a journey into the heart of Turkish tradition. We’ll explore the history of Turkish coffee, its cultural significance, and the key elements that make it so distinctive.
A Brief History of Turkish Coffee
Turkish coffee, also known as Ottoman coffee, has a rich history that dates back to the 16th century. It was introduced in Istanbul during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent by Özdemir Pasha, the Ottoman Governor of Yemen, who had grown to love the drink while stationed in that country.
The brewing method of Turkish coffee—boiling finely ground coffee beans in a small pot (cezve) and serving it in a cup where the grounds are allowed to settle—became popular throughout the Ottoman Empire.
As coffeehouses spread across the empire, they became hubs of social activity, fostering conversation, the sharing of news, and even performances of music and poetry.
In the 17th century, Turkish coffee made its way to Europe, influencing the continent’s coffee culture. This was largely due to the unsuccessful siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Empire, which left behind a large quantity of coffee beans.
In 2013, Turkish coffee culture was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, acknowledging its unique role in fostering social engagement and its time-honored brewing method.
Today, Turkish coffee remains a cherished tradition in Turkey and is enjoyed by coffee lovers worldwide for its strong, rich flavor and its integral role in social rituals.
Ingredients and Equipment
Coffee Beans and Grind
To make authentic Turkish coffee, start with Turkish coffee beans. These beans have a distinct taste and flavor profile. When selecting coffee beans, consider trying the popular brand Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi which is available on Amazon and in specialty coffee shops.
It’s essential to use a powder-fine grind for brewing Turkish coffee. You can grind the beans yourself or buy pre-ground coffee from a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean supermarket.
Cezve or Ibrik
A vital piece of equipment you’ll need for brewing Turkish coffee is a Cezve (also called an Ibrik). It is a small coffee pot typically made of copper or brass with a long handle. The cezve is specifically designed for preparing Turkish coffee on the stovetop and allows for proper extraction of flavor.
If you don’t have a Cezve or Ibrik, you can find one online (such as the one below available on Amazon) or in a store that sells specialty coffee equipment.
Stovetop and Brewing Surface
Choose a suitable stovetop and brewing surface for making your Turkish coffee. You can use a gas, electric or induction stovetop, but make sure that the heat source is appropriately sized to accommodate your cezve or ibrik.
A medium flame will often work best for achieving the desired brewing temperature. It’s crucial to keep an eye on the water temperature during the brewing process to avoid overheating the coffee.
Traditional Turkish Coffee Cups
To serve your Turkish coffee authentically, use traditional Turkish coffee cups. These small cups usually hold around 2-3 ounces of liquid and are designed to capture the rich flavor of the coffee.
Serving Turkish coffee alongside a glass of water amplifies the taste experience, as the water cleanses the palate between sips.
Preparing Turkish Coffee
Grinding the Coffee Beans
To make the perfect Turkish coffee, start by grinding the coffee beans as finely as possible. You can use a burr grinder or purchase pre-ground coffee beans, such as Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi. The texture should resemble powder, finer than espresso grounds.
Measuring and Mixing Ingredients
- Begin by selecting a Turkish coffee pot called a cezve or ibrik. These pots typically have a long handle and are often made of copper with an inner coating.
- Fill your Turkish coffee cup with cold water and pour it into the cezve for accurate measurement.
- For every cup, add 2 teaspoons (3.5g) of ground coffee to the cezve. You may add cardamom or other spices to taste.
- Add sugar according to your preference. The levels of sweetness in Turkish coffee are as follows:
- Unsweetened (sade): No sugar
- Little sweet (az şekerli): 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Medium sweet (orta): 1 teaspoon sugar
- Sweet (şekerli): 2 teaspoons sugar
- Mix the coffee grounds, water, and sugar gently without heating. Avoid stirring after this point, as it can result in a less foamy brew.
Heating and Brewing
- Place the cezve on the smallest burner of your stovetop at low heat. The low and slow brewing method will create a rich layer of foam.
- As the coffee heats, a thick, dark foam will form on the surface. Watch carefully and avoid boiling or spilling.
- Once the foam rises to the top of the cezve, remove it from the heat immediately. Let it settle for a few seconds.
- Gently pour the coffee into your cup, dividing the foam equally among the servings.
- Allow the coffee grounds to settle at the bottom of the cup for about a minute before enjoying your Turkish coffee.
Remember, Turkish coffee can be quite strong due to its brewing method and caffeine content. Adjust the strength by adjusting the ratio of water and coffee grounds to suit your taste.
How to Make Turkish Coffee without a Cezve or Ibrik
Don’t worry if you don’t have a cezve or ibrik for preparing your Turkish coffee. You can still make a delicious cup using a saucepan. Here’s a step-by-step guide for making Turkish coffee without the traditional pot.
Step 1: Measure out the coffee Use finely ground coffee, preferably a medium or dark roast. For each cup of Turkish coffee, use 1 heaping teaspoon of coffee grounds.
Step 2: Add water Pour cold water into a small saucepan. Use a standard coffee cup for measuring, one cup of water per serving. Make sure the saucepan has a wide base and a narrow neck, similar to an ibrik, to allow the coffee to foam correctly.
Step 3: Add sugar (optional) If you prefer your coffee sweetened, add sugar to your taste. Keep in mind that Turkish coffee is traditionally served with a side of sweets, so you might not need to add too much sugar.
Step 4: Add coffee Add the coffee grounds directly into the water without stirring. Let the coffee sink to the bottom of the saucepan – do not mix as you want the coffee grounds to soak up some of the water first.
Step 5: Heat the mixture Place the saucepan on low heat and allow the mixture to slowly heat up. Keep a close eye on the coffee and avoid letting it come to a full boil.
Step 6: Stir the coffee When the coffee starts to sink into the water and the mixture has warmed up, gently stir until well combined. Continue heating the mixture on low heat until it starts to foam.
Step 7: Remove from heat As the foam of the coffee begins to rise, promptly remove the saucepan from heat to prevent it from boiling over. Allow the coffee grounds to settle at the bottom for about 30 seconds.
Step 8: Pour the coffee Carefully pour the brewed Turkish coffee into small cups, making sure the foam is evenly distributed among the servings. Wait for a minute or so, allowing the grounds to settle at the bottom of the cup before enjoying your delicious Turkish coffee.
Serving Turkish Coffee
When serving Turkish coffee, the pouring technique is essential to attain a harmonious balance of flavors and texture.
Start by carefully distributing the crema, the frothy layer at the top, into each demitasse cup. Then, pour the coffee into each cup while ensuring an even distribution of the coffee grounds. This will lead to a consistent taste throughout all the servings.
Turkish coffee is traditionally enjoyed with a variety of accompaniments to enhance the overall experience. Some popular options to consider include:
- Turkish delight: A classic pairing, Turkish delight adds a sweet element to contrast against the bitter coffee. These chewy candies come in a variety of flavors, often infused with spices like cinnamon or clove, and dusted with powdered sugar.
- Sugar: Customize your coffee by offering options of unsweetened (sade), a little sugar (az şeker), or sweetened (şekerli). Tailor your brewing process to match the preferences of your guests by adding the desired sugar amount directly to the cezve while brewing.
- Mastic: A plant resin used to add a unique flavor to Turkish coffee, mastic adds an extra layer of complexity and sophistication to the overall experience.
To truly immerse yourself in the Turkish coffee experience, consider incorporating some traditional practices that intertwine the coffee with various cultural aspects:
- Serving order: Tradition dictates that coffee should be served from the eldest to the youngest guest, signifying respect and maintaining a sense of hosting etiquette.
- Fortune-telling: Popular in countries like Turkey and Armenia, the practice of reading coffee grounds after finishing your cup adds a mystical flair to the experience. To unveil the fortune, flip the cup onto the saucer and wait for the grounds to settle. Carefully analyze the patterns and symbols left in the cup to reveal the spiritual message.
Sharpen your palate and prepare a memorable coffee experience by combining these elements with your serving techniques. Follow these guidelines and immerse yourself in the warmth of this cherished tradition.
Variations and Adjustments
Adjusting Sweetness and Flavor
If you prefer your Turkish coffee sweet and rich, you can experiment with different amounts of sugar to suit your taste. Traditionally, Turkish coffee is served with Turkish Delight or other candies to balance the strong flavor.
Start by adding a small teaspoon of sugar for a slightly sweet taste, and adjust from there according to your preference.
You can even add a little milk or water to create a smoother consistency, but be aware that this may alter the traditional taste. Feel free to pair your coffee with sweet treats like Turkish Delight to enhance the overall flavor experience.
Using Different Brewing Methods
While using a traditional cezve or ibrik on a gas stove is the most authentic way to prepare Turkish coffee, you can also make it using an electric stove or even a sand-filled pan.
Regardless of the heat source, the key is to maintain low, consistent heat throughout the brewing process. This will ensure a proper formation of the dark foam that characterizes Turkish coffee.
- Gas stove: Place the cezve on the smallest burner and set it to low heat. Keep a close eye on it to prevent boiling over.
- Electric stove: Use a heat diffuser to provide an even and controlled temperature. Place the cezve on the diffuser, and set the burner to low heat.
- Sand-filled pan: This traditional method mimics the even heat distribution of a bed of hot sand. Place a layer of sand in a shallow pan, and heat it on the stove. Set the cezve into the sand, and adjust the heat as needed to maintain a consistent temperature.
Remember, when experimenting with these different brewing methods, the key element is to maintain that low, even heat to achieve the desired flavor and consistency in your Turkish coffee. Enjoy the process and have fun perfecting your own unique cup of coffee!
Check out our complete list of other coffee drinks you may like to try.
My name is Dana Dupree and I am an avid coffee lover. Since I began college and realized what a heavy load writing majors took on, I have been a fan of the bean juice.
My job has taken me all over the US on book tours and press conferences, and my favorite part about the trip is exploring the best places to grab my cup of Joe.