Turkish coffee (Türk kahvesi) has been a central icon in Turkish society since it was developed about 500 years ago, and we at our site would like to introduce it to you. In the past, coffeehouses were a crucial place for social discourse. Today this beverage still plays an important role in Turkish society, and can be found in multiple countries in and around Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. It has even been included on Turkey’s “intangible cultural heritage list” put out by UNESCO.
Traditions about Turkish Coffee
In the past, when a man in Turkey (formerly the Ottoman Empire) decided to marry a woman, the potential groom’s parents would visit the bride’s house to ask for her parents’ permission. The bride-to-be would be expected to serve the man’s parents the best Turkish coffee she could make to show her good skills. Another common cultural aspect about drinking a cup of Turkish coffee is the tradition of using telling one’s fortune by observing the grounds in the bottom of the finished coffee cup. Sometimes it’s really good way to start a conversation.
Ingredients in Turkish Coffee
Coffee — Turkish coffee doesn’t refer to a certain roast, blend, bean variety, or flavor. The title refers solely to the boiled and unfiltered preparation method. Originally people made coffee on charcoal embers, but this method has long since disappeared as indoor stoves became common. Two heaping teaspoons of very finely ground coffee for each cup is the recommended proportion, and a strong, dark roast is preferred. The Turkish teaspoon is a bit smaller than the common teaspoon, approximately 1 cm long and 0.5 cm wide.
Spices — Various spices are frequently added to Turkish coffee preparation, but this step is optional. Native to India, cardamom is the most common spice added to this beverage, typically one pod per serving. Be sure to remove the inedible outer shell and crush the seeds, or even grind them into powder along with the coffee. Anise seed, cinnamon, coriander, and other spices are also used.
Sugar — The addition of sugar is considered to be a necessary part of the brewing process, but it can be omitted. When measuring the sugar, the amount depends on your personal tastes. If you make Turkish coffee for your friends, family, or guests, be sure to ask their sweetness preference before brewing. There are primarily four levels of sweetness from which to choose. These rank from unsweet to sweeter in turn. In the Turkish language, these are: sade, az şekerli, orta şekerli and çok şekerli. You can opt for brown sugar to sweeten the beverage, but white sugar is recommended for the higher amount of foam it creates in the boiling process.
Water — Bottled or filtered drinking water is recommended to make the tastiest product. The most suitable amount is one demitasse-sized cup (90 ml) for each serving; use more or less to taste.
Coffee Pot — originally, copper was the preferred material for making the specially designed Turkish coffee pots (called a cezve or an ibrik). More recently, ceramic, stainless steel, and aluminum materials are commonly used. The pots come in various sizes, depending upon the desired quantity of Turkish coffee. Each is designed with a long handle (to avoid burns) and a pouring spout to decant the beverage.
- The measured, cold water is poured into a clean ibrik. A small saucepan is also fine to use in place of an ibrik, if the traditional pot is not available. Add the measured coffee, sugar, and cardamom, and stir briefly. The pot is brought to a boil on low heat.
- Remove the pot from the heat, and stir to dissolve the sugar and break up the coffee grounds (important!).
- Move the pot back to the heat. Keep it on the heat until coffee foams up near the rim. Then remove it from the heat. Stir again, but take care to only stir the top portion of the beverage.
- Repeat the last step again. Careful not to let the product boil over, or for too long. This can make the end result bitter, as well as cause a mess. Some chefs boil twice; others boil three times.
- Remove from the heat. Pour the coffee into a demitasse cup and (also important!) let the beverage rest 2-3 minutes so the grounds can settle to the bottom before drinking.
- Traditionally Turkish coffee is accompanied by a small glass of water.
- There is usually foam on the top of Turkish coffee when it is served. The presence of the thick foam is a desirable texture element to a well-made cup.
- Finely ground Arabica coffee beans (dark roast) are the best. If this is not available, any type of coffee is OK, but be sure to ask a coffee shop assistant to grind it for Turkish coffee. Powder-like consistency is needed.
- Take care not to stir the beverage after the coffee is poured into cups, or the foam will disappear and the sediments will be stirred up, making the beverage silt-like and unpleasant.
- Keep your eye on the brewing process at all times. Due to the preparation method, it is easy for the pot to boil over and make a big mess. Therefore, attention should be paid during the whole process.
- If you prefer a sweeter taste, or prefer less intensity and strength of the coffee, you could add more water, less coffee, and/or a larger concentration of spices and sugar.
- Turkish coffee is intended to be relished, and sipped very slowly.
- As the famous old proverb goes, “Coffee should be as black as hell, as strong as death, and as sweet as love.” This is especially true of Turkish coffee!
Enjoy Turkish Coffee
Before drinking Turkish coffee, it is of vital importance to cleanse the palate by drinking water to guarantee you will experience all of the rich flavors. To further enjoy this tasty beverage, serve it to your guests along with treats such as Turkish delight, liquor, small chocolate candies, or cookies. In Turkey, people like to have Turkish coffee after every dinner with friends and family. More than just a beverage, the Turkish coffee experience a good time to enjoy their company and talk about things in everyday life.
Have you tried to make Turkish coffee at home? Tell us about it in the comment section.
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