Any coffee-lover who have visited Turkey knows about Turkish coffee. After hearty meals, most restaurants serve it complimentary as a tradition. This delicious heritage has spread around the world during the Ottoman Era, yet, it is known and loved by the name Turkish coffee, instead of Ottoman coffee.
Anyone can prepare Turkish coffee, but not everyone’s coffee will be deemed proper by the connoisseurs. In social gatherings in Turkey, making and drinking coffee is like a ritual. Usually only one among the friends is known to make it better and when it is time, everyone expects him or her to brew the coffee. Would you like to be that person? If so, I recommend you read this article carefully. Here I will outline how to prepare proper Turkish coffee and give tips and notes on how to improve the taste and the serving quality of your coffee.
You will need a “cezve” which is a brass or copper pot made specially to make Turkish coffee. You can find one to buy online or ask your nearest Turkish market.
Turkish coffee is consumed sip by sip from small porcelain cups, called “fincan“. They are very much the same as thin porcelain espresso cups.
Also, you will need the very finely ground coffee. Ground coffee needed to make Turkish coffee is finer than espresso grounds. It is, in fact, a fine dust. Again, either ask your nearest Turkish market, or go online. If you prefer to roast and grind your own coffee beans, you can try to find a coffee grinder which is capable of producing very fine particles. What I found in my research online is that, many coffee grinder makers claim their grinder can do the job, yet, user reviews tell a different story for most. So, make your pick accordingly. I will try to give you pointers on how to choose a proper grinder soon.
Now, let’s make some coffee.
- 1 teaspoon heaping Turkish Coffee ground
- Sugar optional
Use your cup (fincan) to measure the water. Fill it with water; if you will add sugar to your coffee, subtract a similar volume of water from the cup.
Pour the water into your pot (cezve).
Add the ground coffee and sugar, if needed.
Place the pot on low heat.
Stir the ingredients in the pot once, until they are blended, and leave it to cook.
Once the coffee starts to swell, remove from heat.
Slowly pour into your cup.
Easy, isn’t it? Not quite. If it were this simple, everyone could make and enjoy perfect coffee, and making it properly would not gain you any good names among your friends. There are many points to making a good Turkish coffee. Here are some, that come to mind immediately:
Notes on How to Make Proper Turkish Coffee
- As always, the main criteria is the quality of the coffee ground. Properly roasted, finely ground, fresh coffee ground is important. This is why you should buy your coffee in small amounts. Once you open the packaging the ground coffee will quickly lose its potency.
- The measurement is the volume of your cup, because there is no standard for the volume of fincan. But, this leads to another problem. When you change the volume of water, you will need to adjust the volume of coffee ground you need to use. Here, you will need to do some trial and error, and find the best taste to your palate. As a rule of thumb, never use less than a heaping teaspoon.
- Taste and hardness of water affects the coffee’s taste. If possible, use better water than the chlorine-added tap water.
- The foam on top of the Turkish coffee is its crown. How to have more foam? Easy. Use more coffee. You will need to increase the amount of coffee you use, but be careful not to overdo it.
- Put the pot on heat after you add in the coffee and the optional sugar. You can stir before or after you put it on heat, but don’t be late.
- The coffee will start to swell from the sides. Don’t wait for it to bubble all around. When there is a small area left in the middle that didn’t swell yet, remove from heat.
- Brewing the coffee slowly adds to its taste. If you do it on the lowest heat, you will spend more time, but you will have a better smelling coffee. Also, the time between it begins to swell and the time you need to remove it from the heat also increases, giving you more time to judge and react.
- Some people want to brew for more than one person at a time, and this leads to a foam problem. Serving two at a time with proper foam on top is usually manageable, but more than that is almost impossible. If you insist, here is what you can do:
- Simply, ignore the fact that you need to serve it with foam on top, and serve away with whatever you got.
- After the first swell, share the foam to cups, reheat the coffee to make more foam, and share that too (this is usually done 3 times.) Some even add more coffee after the first swell, but I think it changes the taste, and therefore, I do not recommend it.
- Pour the coffee into the cup slowly from the side, to disturb the foam the least.
- Serving Turkish coffee in cups with smaller base and wider top is a show of expertise. They need more foam than the cylindrical cups.
History of Coffee
The story of coffee starts in Ethiopia. Where Mennon, son of Zeus, came from. The lands of the rosy fingered goddess Eos.
This land is accepted as the birthplace of coffee. Even today, you can still find indigenous coffee plants in the wild.
It is said that the name Coffee comes from a part of this region, Kaffa. Though, it may well be the other way around, as some etymologists suggest.
The legends that tell the tales of the discovery of coffee is varied and abundant in number. This is no surprise, as this is the second largest market in the world after petroleum. And its trade has been going on for more than a millennium.
There are many legends and stories about the discovery of coffee. One of the more entertaining ones is as follows:
There was a goat-herder who was a poet from birth. One night when his goats do not return back, he goes out to search for them. When he finds them, he sees that the goats are prancing horns, dancing on their two rear legs and bleating happily. When he looks closer he sees that they were eating the red berries and bright green leaves of a plant he had never seen before. He fears that the goats would be poisoned and die. He tries to take them back home, but it takes a while before he can manage that.
Next morning he takes the goats back to that same place. Encouraged by the fact that the goats were not poisoned, he first tastes the leaves, then the berries of the plant. Soon after, he starts to dance and sing with the goats. He sings and recites poems. He feels that he would never get tired again, or feel anger. He goes back home and tells about this miraculous plant to his father. Soon, the gossip of the plant spreads across the land and coffee becomes a part of Ethiopian culture.