You’ve probably heard of French press, espresso, and caffe latte, but another type of gourmet coffee that’s becoming increasingly popular in the US is Turkish coffee. It has a rich, thick texture and a distinct, satisfying flavor that’s unlike any other coffee beverage. Fortunately, you can enjoy Turkish coffee at home as well as at the coffeehouse, and it’s relatively affordable to make.
It’s believed that Turkish coffee originated in the mid 1500s, after Istanbul’s first coffeehouse was opened. It’s now so steeped into the history of Turkey that it’s a traditional custom for brides-to-be to prepare and serve Turkish coffee to their future grooms and family members. This type of brew is also called Arabic coffee due to its origins. Making Turkish coffee is quite different from making other types of gourmet coffee beverages. It’s important to note that Turkish coffee isn’t a type of ground and is instead defined by the process used to make it.
Any type of coffee bean can be used to make Turkish coffee, but it needs to be pounded or ground into the finest powder possible. Using a mortar and pestle or Turkish hand grinder works well, or a burr mill may be used. Electric coffee grinders usually don’t get the coffee ground finely enough, but starting off with an electric grinder and further pounding the beans by hand is an option. No matter how the grounds are made, using freshly roasted coffee will yield a more intense and flavorful cup of brew.
After the coffee beans are finely ground, about a tablespoon is placed into a pot of water that is hot, but not boiling. Sugar is added, but not stirred into the water so that the coffee grounds don’t clump. Once the grounds have sunk to the bottom of the pot and the sugar is dissolved, it is stirred until the coffee begins to foam.
Turkish coffee is usually served with a glass of water to cleanse the palette before drinking the brew. Sugar isn’t a requirement, and there are four levels of sweetness when it comes to Turkish coffee: plain with no sugar (also known as sade), slightly sweet with about a half teaspoon of sugar, medium sweetness with a level teaspoon of sugar, and the sweetest level, which contains up to two teaspoons of sugar.
The cezve is the special pot that’s used to make Turkish coffee. Also known as an ibrik, it has a long handle that helps protect the hands as the coffee is being made and poured. Cezve pots can be made from a wide range of materials, including aluminum, ceramic, stainless steel, gold, or silver. Traditionally, the cezve is made out of copper or brass.