The simple act of drinking a cup of Turkish coffee is steeped in history and tradition. It could even be said that a trip to the beautiful Eastern Mediterranean countries like Turkey, Cyprus or Greece is never quite complete until a cup of the traditional coffee has been experienced.
Nowadays coffee houses are a central feature of our daily lives, but the Original Café can be dated as far back as the mid-16th century. Apart from being a place where people socialised, these were often a hub for discussing news and political activity. Fast forward to today and the country is full of bustling coffee venues, loved by locals and tourists in equal measure.
So, whether you’re sipping your brew on the edge of the Bosphorus or holed up in your lounge on a grey drizzly day, read on to find out what sets this unique style of coffee apart from the rest.
What is Turkish Coffee?
Often described as rich, thick, and robust, traditional Turkish coffee is perfect for those who love a strong, full-flavoured coffee.
To make Turkish coffee, any type of coffee bean can be used, although Arabica varieties are considered best. However, unlike other forms of coffee, Turkish coffee is unfiltered, meaning that you’ll find fine coffee grounds at the bottom of your cup, giving rise to the swirls and patterns used by coffee fortune tellers.
How to Make Turkish Coffee
Turkish coffee brewing methods generally fall into three categories; stovetop, sand heated, or machine made. Whether you’re a stickler for tradition or prefer the quickest and easiest modus operandi, the coffee still tastes utterly delicious, no matter which method is used.
Stovetop Turkish Coffee
Traditionally, Turkish coffee is brewed on a stovetop using a small, long handled metal pot (known in Turkey as a ‘cezve’ or elsewhere as an ‘Ibrik’).
During the brewing process, the coffee liquid is heated, but never brought to a full boil because that could destroy the flavour compounds, resulting in over extraction and bitterness.
When the mixture starts to froth, the liquid is removed from the heat source before it boils over. However, to obtain the desired level of froth, it may then be returned to the heat and removed just before boiling once or twice more!
Click here to see a video on how to make stovetop Turkish coffee.
Turkish Coffee in Sand
Did you know? Believe it or not, hot sand has been a brewing method used in the Middle East for hundreds of years.
Turkish coffee cooked in sand is made using a sand warmer or metal container that’s filled with sand. Once the Turkish coffee pot has been prepared with water and coffee, and sugar if taken, cardamom, or spices if desired, the sand warmer is heated up and the coffee pot placed into it. This allows the coffee mixture to gradually heat up whilst its flavours infuse together.
It’s important to heat the coffee evenly, so the pot is continuously moved around. When the mixture starts to bubble, it’s removed from the sand warmer and left to settle for a moment. Like the stovetop method, this can be repeated to achieve the correct level of frothiness.
Machine Brewed Turkish Coffee
Sand brewing might seem a bit of a faff and rather time consuming, especially when speed and convenience is key. For those that don’t want to compromise on taste, but prefer minimal fuss and preparation, there is a slightly more practical way of making Turkish coffee.
Thankfully, the brewing of Turkish coffee was revolutionised by the creation of the Turkish coffee machine. This clever invention combined with the arrival of pre blended Turkish coffee, means that coffee lovers everywhere can recreate the same depth of flavour and creamy texture at the push of a button.
If you want to have a go at home, we recommend trying Ozerlat’s exquisite nutty, bittersweet Heritage Blend, for a classic Turkish coffee or their delicious buttery blend, Medium Roast Blend to make a smooth tasting drink.
How to Drink Turkish Coffee
Turkish coffee is always served in small portions in ornate porcelain cups named ‘Kahve fincani’.
It tends to be served unsweetened (sade kahve) or with a little or moderate sugar. So, if you’re partaking in Turkey itself and prefer a little sweetness, make sure you specify how much sugar at the time of ordering.
The rich, aromatic flavour of Turkish coffee also means that you don’t need an awful lot to get the coffee hit. Best of all, it’s often served with a small glass of water and something sweet like ‘Lokum’ (Turkish Delight), the perfect accompaniment to the dark, creamy drink, and which surely makes it a serious contender for the ultimate flavour combination.