January 11, 2016

4 Modern Takes on The Traditional Turkish Coffee


Turkish coffee means grandmas doling out sweet bits of Turkish delight after a late breakfast. It means dark, rich coffee served in an antique cezve. It means centuries of history.

So you might wonder why you’d want to experiment with it.

You want to because these new recipes combine the richness of Turkish coffee with the innovation of the modern age. Because, whether you are a coffee lover or a barista trying to satisfy consumers, experimenting is both scary and exciting. And because you’re third wave, and third wave coffee drinkers are, above all, curious about coffee.

SEE ALSO: Turkish Coffee: A Story of Mystery, War, Romance, & Empire

What is Turkish Coffee?

Turkish coffee is an exceptionally sweet, dark, and flavorful drink. The sugar is cooked into the coffee, creating a deep caramel flavor that will leave a sticky trail melting down your throat. The grounds are extra fine and are usually left in the coffee to settle at the bottom, sealing in the heat. Oh, and then there’s the firm, foamy top.

traditional turkish coffee

Traditional Turkish coffee – a product of centuries of tradition

If you want to learn how to make it the regular way, we have a recipe here. There are plenty of reasons to do so; this traditional method give you the time to leisurely enjoy your afternoon coffee, nibbling on a piece of sari burma – a traditional Turkish pastry covered in simply decadent syrup – before it goes cold.

Yet if you feel like experimenting, you’ll find even more delicious concoctions await…

Turkish coffee

Turkish coffee: Can perfection be upgraded? Yes!

  1. Turkish Coffee 1.2: The Upgrade

Turkish coffee is sweet and caramelized, but only about a third of your cup is actually coffee. Disappointing, right? The top third, while delicious, is mostly foam and the bottom third contains a muddy mess of grounds.

However, there’s a simple fix. Allow the coffee to sit for about 5 minutes before pouring to produce a coffee with less grounds and a higher peaking foam. And since Turkish coffee is notoriously hot, it’s still at a great temperature for drinking.

Turkish coffee

Want a nice foamy top? Let your coffee sit for a few minutes before pouring! Credit: Jorge Cancela, Flickr

  1. Turkish Espresso

In those drinks where espresso might be overpowered or downplayed, Turkish coffee is the perfect solution. Try this take on café bombón, a Spanish drink stolen from Thai-style coffee vendors.

The café bombón is a slow pour of condensed milk over an espresso shot. Replacing the shot with high poured Turkish coffee to create a sweeter and smoother drink – and you’ll even counteract the temperature loss caused by the milk.

Turkish espresso

Modernize the old classic for absolute deliciousness.

  1. The Faux Pour

If a caramelized top is difficult to achieve, or sometimes it’s just impossible to pull off that high pour, don’t panic because this is the next best thing. In fact, if you find Turkish coffee a little too bitter, you may even prefer this version.

Spooning soft milk foam on top will save the day, preserve the integrity of your coffee, and even soften the punch you-in-your-teeth bitterness of Turkish coffee.

If you need a complex flavor profile like me, you might even want to dust the top with cinnamon to add an extra dimension (and some health benefits).

  1. Turkish Coffee Sundae

It’s time to get radical! Now we’re going to try mixing Turkish coffee into a more complex beverage. And by beverage, we really mean dessert.

Be liberal with the sugar when brewing your coffee and, once it’s ready, high pour it over ice cream in a malt shop glass. Edge with whipped cream, dust with cocoa, and drink. Voilà!

Okay, it’s a bit more difficult than that. In particular, getting the cream to sit along the edge of your glass might take some practice. Make sure it’s stiff, otherwise it will slide right down the side of the glass.

Once you’ve mastered this drink, though, you’ll have the perfect dessert coffee.

You want to mess with Turkish coffee. Not only is it dark, but it’s untouched. It has its own set of complications and problems to solve, but it is endlessly rewarding. Experimenting with it has led to some of the most delicious coffee I’ve ever tried. So go ahead – it’s time to expand your idea of coffee.

Feature Photo Credit: LWYang, Flickr

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