To be honest, when I’m home alone it’s like my coffee machine doesn't even exist. I always go for Turkish coffee when I’m by myself and there are actually a lot of heavy coffee drinkers that don't even own an automatic coffee machine and drink only Turkish.
Also known as Greek coffee, Arabic coffee or Lebanese coffee, the exact origin of the Turkish coffee cannot be precisely pinpointed on the geo-historical map. Nonetheless, whichever the nomenclature of choice is, this type of coffee is prepared the same way all around the world, with very insignificant differences depending on the continent. As we would like to share our Turkish coffee knowledge, below you will be able to learn all that is to be learned on this subject.
All about the Beans for Turkish Coffee
Turkish Coffee - Beans
Brazilian beans are very easy to find and go great for Turkish brewing. Even better, Turkish brewing goes great with African beans which, in the form of a lighter roast, are able to pass their earthy tones into the final brew.
Turkish Coffee - Roasting
When talking about Turkish coffee, the most frequent roast is medium-dark. For ages, Turkish roasters have preferred darker roasts while the Greek and Arab roasters have sided with lighter roasts. The roasting methods vary and different roasting temperatures are used, from Cinnamon to Vienna, Full City, Italian et cetera. For Turkish coffee, we need a roasting method that eliminates almost all the acidity from the green beans because an acidic brew does not make for a good Turkish coffee. On an important note, for lighter roasts, the beans need to be flawless. If the beans are not of great quality, with a light roast, you will end up with a not so tasty brew.
Turkish Coffee - Grinding
When learning how to brew Turkish coffee, you also need to know how the grinding process should be. The extremely fine grind size is the key here. While the Greek recipe is designed for the finest grind, the Turkish recipe allows for a somewhat coarser grind. By using a very fine grind size, you will end up with a powdery result which is what we want for Arabic coffee. This way the extraction time will be incredibly fast and the soluble solids will benefit from a better dissolution process. In order to obtain that Turkish coffee specific thickness, you will need to go with a manual grinder or a commercial machine as your everyday electric grinder won’t have the necessary motor strength to produce that fine Turkish grind size. Nonetheless, as mentioned above, there are a few recipes that require coarsely ground coffee.
How does Turkish Coffee Taste?
Turkish coffee doesn't taste or look like any other type of coffee you're used to. Don't try to compare it to something you tried, because there is no similarities. Will you like it? Who knows, in fact coffee taste is sometimes an acquired taste. When I change the beans from a dark to a light roast I need a few days to get used to the new flavor. In a similar way, you might need some time to adjust your taste buds to the new brewing method.
Because of the additional quantity of coffee oils and soluble solids, even though not richer caffeine-wise, Turkish coffee will definitely be darker and stronger that your regular cup of joe. Turkish coffee traditionally served with sugar, but I for one drink all my coffee black and Turkish is not an exception.
Some people tend to compare Turkish with espresso, mainly due to their common bitter note, but with Turkish, the bitterness can be eliminated if you know how to work your brewing parameters. Nonetheless, Turkish and espresso don’t have as much in common as some people think and although they share a couple of characteristics, Turkish will always lack that specific espresso brightness and its aroma and taste are more inclined towards the French press brew profile, but even here, Turkish will be way more stronger in flavor than French press. Turkish coffee, because of its non-pressure extraction method, is categorized under a duller profile type than espresso, but the beverage is delightful either way. Whichever you want to take, Turkish, Greek or Arabic, due to the fine grind which for more soluble solids, oils and sugars to pass into the final cup, this type of brewing method will leave you with a delicious coffee, filled with strong aroma and flavor.
Those who really know how to make Turkish coffee will agree that we’re dealing with a strong coffee. Its strength comes from the amount of soluble solids that pass into the final beverage. Even though it's stronger than other types of coffee, Turkish does not contain more caffeine. The common misbelief that Turkish coffee will give you jitters (like espresso does) is just that, a misbelief. We're talking here, of course, about moderate use and not 5 cups at once. If you would like your Turkish coffee to give you the jitters, the secret is in the boiling time. An extended boiling time means that more caffeine will end up in you final cup. However, by boiling it, you will end up with a flat tasting, average cup.
With Arabic coffee we're talking about Turkish coffee with an extra something. And that extra something is spice. The classic Greek coffee recipe or any Eastern European coffee type calls for coffee and sugar only. With Arabic brew, spices are part of the experience. The spices used for Arabic coffee can be rose water or cloves, but most commonly saffron or cardamom. You can always adjust the ground coffee - spice ration, but the classic recipe calls for one part cardamom to three parts ground coffee. With some Arabic recipes the grind is coarser than your typical Greek coffee.
How to Make Turkish Coffee in 8 Steps
- Measure the water by the number of servings that you intent to have (I use an 8 oz cup).
- Put the brewing pot in the stove, (I use an ibrik), and turn the stove on until the water is heated. For some reason the name ibrik has caught up in North America. The name of the traditional Turkish coffee pot is, however, cezve.
- Add sugar in the hot water (or when it’s cold), but do not - I repeat - do not stir yet and let the water heat up more.
- Once the water is getting warmer, add 2 finely ground coffee tablespoons for each 8 oz of water.
- Now stir until the ground coffee soaks the water and make sure that you don’t leave any ground coffee lumps in the water.
- Once the ground coffee starts sinking, turn off the heat a notch. It is very important that you avoid overheating and thus, over extraction. Once you minimize the heat, begin stirring a couple of times until you see the foam forming.
- When you start to see a dark ring forming and the coffee beginning to raise, keep stirring to make sure that all the fine coffee particles are sinking. This way you will also help the foam form. Very important at this point - don’t raise the brewing temperature. If you’re using an electric stove for brewing it’s better that you lift the coffee pot a little bit because even if the heat is turned down, with an electric stove, the temperature will still keep raising.
- Although the chemical composition is not the same, the Turkish coffee aspect reminds us of an espresso and it needs to have a very fine foam. At this final point all you need to do is to make sure that you keep the temperature low and that you don’t let the coffee raise too much. Brewing at a low temperature will guarantee the perfect foam and texture. Once you obtain a nice thick foam, you can take the coffee pot off the stove. Last but not least - and I can’t stress this enough - if you want a good Turkish coffee, never boil it. If you boil it, the results will be quite unsatisfying in terms of strength and flavor.
More Tips for Brewing Turkish Coffee
- I don't recommend that you let the coffee raise more than two times, especially on a hot burner. Different sources on the web will recommend you raise the coffee 3 times or more. If you have a cooler burner raising the coffee three times is fine, as it makes more foam. If you let the coffee raise too long, or too many times on a hot burner you will be able to obtain a clear cup of coffee. However, you will ruin the specific aroma and taste. Your cup will contain more caffeine, but will be completely flat tasting.
- Always use fresh coffee grounds. No need to explain this too much. Buying small cans of ground coffee, properly packaged it is acceptable. However, large coffee cans are not a good choice, because coffee will go stale very fast. The finer the grind, the faster coffee loses its oomph.
- For the full Turkish coffee experience, leave the grounds in the cup. A high number of coffee experts believe that if the grinds remain in the beverage, the brewing process continues even after the coffee is poured into cups. This is simply not a true fact. Once the beverage is in the cup, the temperature is so low that the brewing stops. There is no risk of over-extraction.
- If you are brewing more than one cup, make you sure you don't fill a whole cup at once. Just pour the coffee bit by bit, equally in each cup. This way you will maintain the foam which is very important .
- Turkish coffee is avoided by many people because of the grounds that stay in the cup. If that bothers you, just leave the coffee in the cup for about half a minute before drinking it. And always skip the last sip. Another trick to sink the grounds faster is to add a few drops of cold water in your cup, or in the brewing pot and let it rest a little bit. The drop of cold water will help the grounds sink faster.
- Finally, remember to keep hydrated and drink a glass of water while you are enjoying your coffee. People tend to believe that it’s good to drink water while you are drinking coffee because it cleans your palate and you can enhance the coffee tasting moments. The truth is that by keeping yourself hydrated while drinking coffee, you’re actually taking care of your health. A strong coffee like Turkish will always dehydrate you and you need to counterbalance that. Also, if you take your coffee with sugar, water will help avoid that famous sugar crash. Enjoy and keep hydrated!