If standard brews are boring you, try the art of Turkish coffee
Whether you want to savor a social beverage with friends or enjoy a cup of solo joe, the delight of Turkish coffee resides as much in preparation as in consumption. Many Americans know little about the beverage, except for its famed strength and possibly the sludge it leaves at the bottom of a cup. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make Turkish coffee with your ibrik. And if you don’t know what an ibrik is, don’t worry – we’ll cover that.
How to Make Turkish Coffee: Background
First, you should know that there is no universal way to make Turkish coffee, as the methods do vary slightly by region. In fact, even the name “Turkish coffee” is a bit misleading. The method of preparation appears to have originated in the deserts of what is now Syria, spreading through conquest and cultural fusions. Popular with Turks, Armenians, Cypriots, Greeks, Bosnians, and other ethnic groups, Turkish coffee has different names and customs in the Balkans, Anatolia, the Middle East, and even North Africa.
How to Make Turkish Coffee: the Ibrik
One issue of confusion is the name of the special pot used for preparing Turkish coffee. We Americans call it an ibrik, though people in Turkey use the word cezve. There is much discussion about the etymologies of these two terms (and others), but the reality is that the pot is pretty much the same! Made of copper, brass, or stainless steel, the ibrik tapers upward from its base, roughly resembling a larger-mouthed Erlenmeyer flask in shape. The ibrik usually features a long, straight wooden handle, though plastics and metals are common too. If you don’t own an ibrik, then you can purchase one online for as little as $10. Fancier models come with heftier price tags, of course.
How to Make Turkish Coffee: the Coffee
You are free to use whatever coffee beans you like, though many stores sell “Arabic coffee” or coffee specially blended and roasted for Turkish-style preparation. What’s most important is that you grind the beans freshly yourself, preferably using either a mill or a mortar and pestle. You can also use an electric coffee grinder, but you’ll want to be sure that it’s capable of grinding the beans into a fine near-powder. The grounds normally used for brewing drip coffee are way too large for making Turkish coffee.
How to Make Turkish Coffee: Measurement
How much Turkish coffee you prepare at once depends on the size of your Ibrik. Once you buy an ibrik, you’re basically locked into that volume of service, so don’t select a 32-oz ibrik if you plan to make only two demitasse cups on most occasions. For an 8-oz Ibrik, perfect for two servings, you’ll want about two teaspoons of coffee. As you grow more experienced in making Turkish coffee, you can adjust based on your taste and the roast.
How to Make Turkish Coffee: Adding the Ingredients
Water and coffee are obvious, and a bit of sugar is optional (I like it). The first step is filling your ibrik with cold water. If you’re lucky, your ibrik will make the filling point apparent either by a decorative line on the exterior or a marked change in the neck’s shape. In short, you’re filling the ibrik most of the way with cold water but leaving enough room for the sugar and then the coffee and to be added, taking the mixture near (but not all the way up to) the brim. At this point, stir the whole mixture for no more than 10 seconds. Don’t overstir! There should still be plenty of grind-y goodness floating atop the water, and you’ll stir briefly again a few steps later.
How to Make Turkish Coffee: Heating
Slow heating is always preferred. Turn your bespoke kitchen stove burner on a low setting and stay with the ibrik. (Turkish coffee demands attention, so you can’t walk away from it while it’s being heated.) After a few minutes, depending on your stove, the coffee should start to foam to near the top of the ibrik. Turkish coffee should never reach a full boil. It also shouldn’t spill over the brim. Just as the foam edges its way to the brim of the ibrik, remove the vessel from heat.
How to Make Turkish Coffee: Heating Again
There is some debate as to how many reheating steps to include and when to stir. Because the foam is considered a vital element of Turkish coffee, you don’t want to lose the foam you’ve carefully created. After the first heating, I advise carefully sticking a spoon in the ibrik, stirring gently without disrupting or reincorporating the foam (10 seconds?), and then heating the mixture a second time – until the foam reaches the top again. After this second heating, I remove the ibrik from heat and begin to serve, while other folks perform a third or even fourth reheat.
How to Make Turkish Coffee: Serving
After heating and reheating, let the ibrik stand for about one minute without stirring, as this allows the powdery grinds to settle. It’s now time to serve up your Turkish coffee in demitasses! You may either scoop out the foam into each cup and then pour the rest of the coffee into the cups, alternating little bits of pouring between cups – OR – you may pour with one hand while scooping some foam with a spoon. I prefer the latter method, as the foam stays more intact that way. Remember that, due to the nature of the preparation, the bottom of the ibrik will contain a silt-y sludge. You can pour most of this into the cups, and it will settle while you’re sipping, though it’s ultimately not drink-worthy once you reach the bottom of the cup.
How to Make Turkish Coffee: Palate Suggestion
Many folks will enjoy a glass of ice water or even a palate-cleansing dollop of mild vanilla ice cream served alongside the demitasse so that the richness of each sip of Turkish coffee can be enjoyed freshly.
How to Make Turkish Coffee: Your Ideas
Recognizing that there are different techniques for preparing this beverage, I invite you to submit comments for this article with your own preferences for Turkish coffee.