A Turkish Delicacy

Turkish coffee has an extremely deep history, and has had a large impact on Turkish culture today. While some may call this type of coffee "mud water" and other variants of the phrase that describes the dregs on the bottom of the glass, this style of coffee is so treasured that there was a law in Turkey that if a man did not make enough money to fill the family's ibrik -- the metal pot used for making the coffee -- then the wife could divorce him.

Now, what separates this form of coffee brewing from others is that there is no filtration involved. The coffee grounds are still inside the glass with the drinkable coffee, much like Indonesian kopi tobruk, which is literally boiled water poured over finely ground coffee beans.

There is a saying associated with Turkish coffee, stating that it should be, "black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love." The coffee brewed should be dark, meaning that no cream should be added; it should be strong, and it should be sweet. Out of the three characteristics in the proverb, the only optional one is the sweetness.

To brew Turkish coffee, you will need a demitasse (a small coffee cup, 3 ounces in volume standard); an ibrik, which is often made of copper; finely ground coffee; and sugar, if desired.

As far as the ratio of ground coffee to water, one demitasse full of water per spoonful of finely ground coffee is traditional. While some families may use something a little different, this is the most common one I have found.

By "finely ground coffee," I really mean powder. Like, this stuff needs to be as fine as you can possibly grind it. A lot of electric coffee grinders can struggle to grind that finely, so a special Turkish coffee grinder may be needed. Notice how the ground coffee is caking together.

Now that we have established a good base on what Turkish coffee is, let's actually make some.

First, pour the demitasse worth of filtered water into the ibrik, and set your stove's heat on as low as it can go. If you would like any sugar, add it once the water heats up, and stir it in. Though just about any other recipe will tell you to add the sugar at a different point in the brewing process, this is, once again, the preferred method I have seen.

Grind that coffee like it is going out of style, and then add it to the ibrik as well. Some people will then tell you to stir the grounds in, some won't, but I always give a quick stir with a fork.

This is where it gets complicated. The goal is to achieve a beautiful crema on the surface, without the coffee boiling, which is why low heat is needed.

Watch the coffee brew, and observe the bubbles forming around the rim. There should be a slight simmering inside the ibrik, and as soon as it looks like it will start to boil, quickly and carefully remove it from heat. Allow this to happen one or two more times.

This process is more difficult than it sounds and requires constant observation. If you take your eyes off the stove for even a second, you could end up with a fresh layer of coffee on it, and a frown on your face.

When it is done, carefully pour the coffee back into the demitasse, and take a gander at that sexy crema that formed if you did it correctly.

Turkish coffee is traditionally served with Turkish delight, but since I don't have any, I am having mine with a kitchen sink.

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