Turkish Coffee brewing method has a long history. Arabic Peninsula, Middle East, Turkey, Greece, Balkans, North of Africa, use this method for hundreds of years. It is the oldest coffee brewing method.
Do you know why Turkish Coffee is called “Turkish Coffee”? Because it’s spread all over the world from Turkey. But it has different names in different regions. Different regions have different recipes, but the method is the same.
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Where Was Turkish Coffee Discovered?
Coffee came to the world for the first time in Ethiopia. Then it moved to Yemen. Yemen was the most significant coffee-producing country for a long time. There was information from Sufi Dervishes that from the early 14th century, they were drinking Turkish Coffee. It wasn’t Turkish at that time.
They used to drink unique herbal tea with caffeine content. People started drinking coffee; they started to brew coffee and its effect. They liked the buzz effect of coffee because they were praying all night and were drinking coffee.
How Coffee Spread the world
So, it spread in that region in Yemen. Then early in 15th or 16th century coffee shop or coffee houses started to open in Cairo, Mecca for the first time.
Muslims weren’t allowed to drink other things. So they started to get together around the mosques and drink coffee.
In 1517, the Ottoman Empire invaded Yemen. Then they found coffee and brought coffee to the palace to Istanbul. Sultan and his family loved the taste of the coffee.
Eventually, the people in Istanbul started to drink coffee. But they were importing roasted coffee from Yemen. In the middle of the 16th century, two Syrian guys named Shams and Hakim opened the first official coffee shop.
Day by day, coffee was spreading through the city. European travellers met coffee for the first time in Istanbul, and they spread it to different places in Europe like London, Vienna, Italy etc.
Ottoman Sultan and the French King were good friends. So, they introduced coffee in France. Then French brought coffee to Caribbean Island.
From Caribbean Island, coffee moved to Brazil in the early 18th century. After that, Brazil became the most significant coffee producer and importer.
In this way, Turkish Coffee spread worldwide and named “Turkish” as they introduced it to other countries.
Turkish Coffee Brewing Method
One of the earliest brewing methods is called “Decoction”. The word’s meaning is heating or boiling a substance in a liquid. Here substance is coffee and the liquid is water. That means extracting the compounds from a substance into the water. “Decoction” is the primary cooking method.
The general term is “Percolation” because we extract from the substance into the liquid. But we filter the substance so that we can control the extraction.
So the most significant difference here is the filtration. The difference gives advantage and disadvantage to Turkish Coffee. Because we don’t filter the coffee, we brew it; we pour it into the pot with the coffee ground. So extraction is continuing and it can easily over-extract.
So we prevent over-extraction for better-tasting result. For doing that, we have to describe the variables of the brewing method.
History of Adding Sugar and Spices with Coffee
There was a bias about whether coffee tastes bitter or not. Some people explained coffee as bitter as hell; some people explained coffee sweet as love. What was the difference?
When Brazil became the most significant coffee producer, there were different coffee grades on the market. There were low grades, high grades, good quality, bad quality and many more coffee grades.
The demand and price pushed them to produce cheaper Turkish Coffee roaster. That type of coffee had an unpleasant flavour. But it became a standard eventually for that region.
People started to expect that particular taste. So without proper method and equipment, the taste of coffee became bitter.
To balance that bitterness, they started to add sugar and spices. From then on, people got addicted to taking sugar with coffee.
If you go to a café and order Turkish Coffee, they will ask you how would you like coffee! Plain or with sugar? Medium sugar or sugary?
Coffee Taste Depends on Two Primary Issues
- Product Quality
Quality of beans like low quality, high quality differs the taste. When mixed with water, quality can affect a lot.
Methods are so many. If you Google it, you will find thousands of recipes. You can make a pleasant, evenly extracted coffee if you follow the standard coffee brew standards. For example, for filtered coffee, we call golden coffee standards.
Description of Extraction
Generally, extraction means to transfer the flavour components from the coffee into the liquid. We can extract a 30 to 35% flavour for one coffee bean.
We don’t want to extract everything from the bean. Because from 20 to 23%, we extract unpleasant compound like Chlorogenic acid, phenol, caffeine etc. These add extra bitterness.
For this Turkish Coffee method, the extraction level is slightly higher. But if you follow the rules, you can finish out by 20 to 25% extraction without too much bitterness.
10 Principles of Brewing Turkish Coffee Making Method
There are ten principles for brewing coffee in this method:
- Specialty coffee
- Turkish Coffee roasting and grinding
- Coffee water ratio
- Good quality water
- Turkish Coffee pot
- Heat source
- Turkish Coffee cup
- Brew time
- Turkish Coffee ritual
So the first principle is “Coffee”. Traditionally low-quality coffee, green, roasted coffee are used. They don’t have any good flavour. But this is about the brew method, like French Press. So you can use any coffee to make Turkish Coffee.
Different region’s people use different coffee as their preference. For example, they expect no acidity, flavour, and creamy for the Turkish market.
But for Specialty Turkish Coffee, specialty grade coffee is recommended. So, you should not introduce high acidic Coffee. If that Coffee has high acidity, you can balance it during roasting.
People generally add sugar to their Coffee. But I don’t recommend to add sugar because Turkish Coffee has a natural sweetness.
When selecting Coffee, you should pay attention to these. But if you serve in a specialty coffee shop, you can serve an excellent Brazilian or Kenyan quality.
Turkish Coffee Roasting and Grinding
Generally, a light roast is preferable. Very few roasters in Turkey have dark roast options because they prefer to roast light. The grind size should be very fine during the grinding.
The temperature reaches almost 200 to 250 degree. It burns the beans almost. When they commercially grind, the grinding process continues for hours. The coffee becomes super-hot, and all the high notes are gone! So they prefer to roast light.
You can use any roast profile. If you have a dark roast coffee and want to trial it, you need to adjust your brew ratio to prevent the over-extraction. Of course, the coffee should be fresh.
You should wait for five to ten days for resting the coffee for Turkish Coffee. It is necessary for the taste. It helps to settle down the taste, degassing and flavour development.
Grinding is essential for this method. Imagine, five six hundred years ago, there was no grinder. They were using mortar and pestle. They used to grind very fine powder. The grounds needed to settle down as there was no filtration.
If we grind coarser like Espresso grind size, it floats! It is not a good experience for Turkish Coffee. So the grounds should be very fine.
There is a chart called Daniel Ephraim’s chart. It shows the grind size for different types of brewing methods. For example, while grinding for Fresh press, from one bean, you can create 300particles.
You have to grind one bean into 15 to 35 thousands particles for Turkish Coffee! Could you believe that? But this affects the extraction. So the particles should be very fine.
In the market, this coffee sounds like “Pre-ground” coffee. The worst thing is that when you open the packet, it lost all the right flavours in 10 minutes. But people keep the packet for like six months. That doesn’t make sense!
So, we have to grind freshly before brewing to get the authentic flavours.
There are so many grinders in the market. But unfortunately, the electric grinders are not suitable for Turkish Coffee. You know that the powder gets stuck or clog with the grinder immediately. So you have to use a hand grinder for Turkish Coffee.
The traditional hand grinders were starting their journey in the mid-17th century. Also, lately, different types of grinders came to the market. For example, Commandante can grind fine enough for Turkish Coffee and all other brew methods.
Coffee Water Ratio
Coffee water ratio is the main recipe. We have to measure with scale or any sound measuring system for the right consistency. The coffee professionals like to give coffee water ratio because it makes the method easier.
You can always change the ratio and recipes. It depends on your preferences. But a 1 to 10 ratio is an ideal profile to start. If you are new at coffee, you can start with 1 to 10 or 1 to 9 or 1 to 11. Then you can adjust eventually.
You can use small cups like a demitasse cup. It’s from 60 to 90-millilitre capacities. You can use 7 grams of coffee and 70 grams of water for one cup of coffee.
Good Quality Water
Water is another essential principle. 80 to 85% of the beverage in Turkish Coffee is water. The sour taste of water can affect coffee. Also, the compound of water helps extract the coffee’s flavour.
Coffee Association of America (CAA) set a water standard. It gives the range for water content, minerals, pH range etc. But it’s not easy to find the perfect water range in the market. So you have to use distilled water.
There are pre-blend minerals in the market. You can add it to the water for making the water suitable for coffee.
Another important thing is the water temperature. In Turkey, generally, they use room temperature for brewing. But this is not an explicit rule.
In Bosnia, they boil the water first, pour the coffee, boil it again, and then pour into the cup. They call it Bosnian Coffee.
Turkish Coffee Pot
One of the traditional equipment for Turkish Coffee is called “Jazzve”. In other countries, they call it Ibrik or coffee-pot sometimes.
There are also many Turkish Coffee machines for homes, offices, shops, and other places. In those machines, you can’t control all the variables. So I prefer the manual method because I can control the brew method.
There are also different materials for this equipment like glass, ceramic, metal, stainless steel, copper, composite etc. The materials have different thermal conductivity.
Thermal conductivity is an important issue. Because when we apply heat from the bottom, the good thermal conductive material can immediately pass the heat.
In a manual coffee pot of copper, the temperature rises when we heat it. The pot’s narrow ring creates pressure before it reaches a boiling temperature. It creates a beautiful creamy foam at the top.
So is it fair to have foam at the top of the coffee? No! It doesn’t give any flavour. And the worst thing is, it holds the coffee grounds. The only good thing is, it shows the freshness of the coffee.
Agitation is another essential principles. When we grind the beans finely, fine grounds create clumps. We need to saturate the clumps. So we stir. But we have to be careful while stirring. Because if we stir too much, we increase the extraction.
So we need to stir about 10 to 15 times. When it is saturated evenly, we don’t need to stir anymore.
There are some natural turbulences in the pot that we can’t control. There is chemical degassing form the coffee. You can see the gases released and bubbles rise that creates foam. The other one is thermal degassing. These degassing create friction which creates another agitation.
So we have to control the manual agitation that we can control.
There are different heat sources for this method. Charcoal burn fire is the traditional heat source.
In the sand heater, the pot has to bury into the sand. But the heat conductivity of sand is not good. So the consistency doesn’t remain the same.
The electrical hot plate or induction is not a good source. Instead, gas is a good source which we can control the heat. That’s why I prefer the gas flame.
If you can control the brew time, you can use any heat source. But for the consistency, a gas flame is suitable.
Turkish Coffee Cup
Traditionally, the cup is a small demitasse. Earlier, people made it with porcelain. You can use glass or different materials also. Unlike the Espresso cup, it’s generally 10-10-10. It cools a little faster.
The traditional cups are similar to Espresso cups. Its shape is narrow at the bottom and wider at the top. But if the bottom is more expansive, the grounds settle down faster at the bottom.
Traditionally, dating a longer brew time creates better taste. But unfortunately, we over-extract in a longer time. Many people boil it for 3times to create a big foam. But at the time boiling point is reached and over-extraction occurs.
So, brew time for one cup depends on your equipment. It can be for two minutes or two minutes and thirty seconds. But when you brew with the same equipment, try to finish simultaneously. It is like a key for consistency.
You can see a small dimple under your coffee pot. That dimple can create a little more turbulence and prevent the clumping.
Turkish Coffee Ritual
Ritual is the last principle of Turkish Coffee brewing method. Usually, water is served with coffee and with something sweet. For example, Turkish delight candy is very popular with this method.
For a more natural look, they serve dried dates with coffee. They match the flavours of the sweets with the flavour of the coffee. They recommend drinking water first to clean your palette and drink your coffee. Then taste the sweet dessert.
While serving, the coffee is around 200 or 250 degrees temperature. So you have to know two things. For coming at a temperature of 100 or 70 degrees, you have to wait ¾ minutes. Another thing is that there will be some more extraction at this time.
Evaluation of Turkish Coffee
For the other brew methods, we can evaluate this coffee.
There are two evaluations of this method: visual evaluation and service evaluation.
Everybody likes a nice cream at the top of the coffee and the drinking temperature. And the other variables are the same as the brew method. Pleasing aroma, good flavour, right sweetness, all should be balanced.
Turkish Coffee has tons of stories behind it. The technique is similar to a professional copy technique. This similarity gives another advantage to the brew method.
At the first sip, you get different flavours. When it cools down, it gets more balanced, acidity and sweetness together. The aftertaste also stays longer than Espresso.
How to Make Turkish Coffee with a Hand Grinder
Take roasted coffee beans. Ensure that the roaster roasted the beans about 5 to 10 days ago.
Measure 7 grams of roasted coffee beans. Pour the beans into the hand grinder. Grind it in evenly fine particles for 2 to 3 minutes.
After that, put the ground coffee into the coffee pot. Some people pour the water first. But it creates more clumps. So I will recommend pouring coffee first, then the water.
Add 70 grams of hot water at a temperature of 140 degrees centigrade. Stir the liquid 10 to 15 times.
Then put the coffee put over a high gas flame. After one minute, in the middle of the brew time, lower the temperature. After another minute, the coffee is almost ready.
Pour the coffee into a cup at an angle. You will see a creamy foam at the top of the cup. You can take your first sip after 2 to 3 minutes later. Thus you can enjoy a pleasant Turkish Coffee.
Frequntly Asked Questions
Is it Okay to drink Turkish Coffee every day?
It is okay to drink Turkish Coffee every day from 2 to 3 times. But if you drink more than 3 cups a day, it can cause blood pressure and rhythm disorder.
Why is Turkish Coffee so Special?
Because of its traditional brewing method. Turkish Coffee has a robust flavour and unique taste.
Why is Water Served with Turkish Coffee?
It is a tradition to serve water with Turkish Coffee to clean your palette.
Which coffee beans can I use to make Turkish Coffee?
You can use some Arabica Beans. But you have to grind the beans very finely to get the right consistency.
Why is Turkish Coffee so Thick?
While brewing Turkish Coffee, you can’t filter it. The ground beans don’t dissolve completely. That’s why it’s so thick.