Want to make the perfect cup of Turkish coffee? You’ve come to the right place. I’m here to tell you exactly what you need to make that delicious, full-bodied, traditional drink just right.
There are two aspects to making a sublime Turkish coffee. One is technique. The other is passion.
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Passion for Turkish Coffee
Until I was 15, I thought that being a competent coffee-maker was enough; I was wrong. At that age, having already been making coffee for three years, I visited a flea market with my grandmother. We met an old Turkish copper-beater, a weathered old man with a crumpled cigarette dangling from his wrinkled lips and an immense love of coffee. He presented me with a handmade cezve (pronounced jezveh, also known as an ibrik or briki) and silver dosing spoon.
Later that day, my grandmother gave me another cezve that had been passed down from her grandmother’s grandmother. Yet as beautiful as these cezves were, the biggest gift they gave me was an awareness of how wonderful this drink truly is.
When you are passionate about Turkish coffee, when you will give up anything else to consume more of it, when you want to learn all you can about it—then, you can make a perfect drink.
Some of my favourite cezves. Credit: Jan Strandstrom
And from that day onwards, I had passion. As a uni student in Serbia, coffee was far more important to me than money or new clothes; it was the one item I couldn’t do without. In fact, having been taught by a friend’s Roma grandmother how to read people’s fortunes in my early teens, I made a habit of reading fortunes in coffee—in exchange for bags of it.
I hope you feel, or will come to feel, passionate about Turkish coffee. Even if you don’t, though, with the perfect technique you can still make a good drink.
Turkish coffee must be consumed with your pinkie extended. I cannot stress this enough. Credit: Jan Strandstrom
First, the coffee needs to be ground; this should be done just before you make the drink. The grind must be very fine, like talcum powder. If you struggle to get a grinder that can achieve this level of fineness, I recommend buying a Turkish hand grinder. Believe me, it’s worth it.
Antique hand grinder? Don’t mind if I do. Credit: Jan Strandstrom
Now we’re ready to start brewing. Use an espresso cup as a measuring device and pour 3 or 4 cups of cold water into a cezve. (No Turkish deli near you? Look for them online; ebay normally has some.) Then I strongly recommend adding 3 or 4 flat teaspoons of sugar—but don’t mix it in.
Put the cezve on the stove. As the water heats up, the sugar (if you added it) will begin to caramelize; this will make your coffee sweeter, more well-rounded and more delicious.
When the water boils, take it off the stove and add 4 heaped teaspoons of coffee. This time, mix it well.
Brewing the perfect cup requires a little concentration. Credit: Jan Strandstrom
Now put the coffee back on the stove and keep a close eye on it. The mixture is going to rise; as soon as the brew boils and reaches the top of the cezve, quickly take it off the heat and let it settle. You should also take this opportunity to stir the surface with a small spoon, just to get rid of the larger bubbles. Then quickly return it to the heat. Repeat this a further two times.
After it boils the third time, you’re ready to serve it. Take it off the heat and let it settle for 30 seconds. With a teaspoon remove some froth from the top of the brew and put it into each espresso cup. Then pour the brewed coffee into each cup until it’s about 5mm off off the top. Let it settle for a minute.
And voilà! You’ve made Turkish coffee.
It’s now ready for you to enjoy. If you made it without the sugar, I recommend having a bite of Turkish delight (or anything else that’s very sweet) before your first sip.
Boom! How good does that look? Credit: Jan Strandstrom
My grandmother used to say that the secret to long life, and the cure for absolutely anything, is to take a bite of Turkish delight to attract all the germs in your guts, then a sip of rakia (Bulgarian plum brandy) to kill all the germs, and then finally a gulp of black Turkish coffee so no one can see what happened. Yes, we have strange sayings in our part of the world, and yes, Turkish coffee really is that important to us.
Yet even if Turkish coffee doesn’t cure your cold or allow you to live until you’re 100, a cup of this delectable drink will definitely improve your day—and maybe even be the start of a new caffeine love affair. I certainly hope so.
Feature Photo Credit: Jan Strandstrom
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