If you’ve never heard this expression before, it may have surprised you or caught your attention. But it exists, it’s real. You’ve probably seen a reference to it on the Internet, or a video of an expert Arab barista making coffee with the only help of a pile of sand.
Well, this is not a hoax or an optical illusion. It is possible to make coffee in sand, and in this article we will explain how.
What is coffee in the sand?
Coffee in the sand is a variant of the well-known Turkish coffee. That is: a small metal container is used, and ultra-ground coffee (almost almost floury in texture) is used.
However, it is not necessary to buy a Turkish coffee machine(or cezve) to make Turkish coffee in the sand. It can also be done with a similar container, although it is always advisable to use the original ones, preferably made of copper.
Arabic coffee or Turkish coffee in the sand?
Coffee in the sand is also called Kumda Kahve in its original language. However, the distinction between “Arabic coffee” or “Turkish coffee” is more a Western question, often depending on where you order it, than a real technical difference. Essentially, Turkish coffee and Arabic coffee are the same and are brewed in the same way.
Where can you drink coffee on the sand?
Well, you can find it on the streets or in the houses of any country where Turkish coffee is brewed. Of course, Turkey is the main reference, but it is not uncommon to find containers for making coffee in the sand in Arab, Turkish, Armenian or Balkan restaurants in various parts of the world.
How is coffee in the sand made?
If you want to know how coffee in the sand is made, the concept is very simple: sand coffee or Kumda Kahve is made in the same way as regular Turkish coffee. You can read our guide to learn more about the process. The only difference lies in the way the heat is applied to the vessel.
In this case, instead of using a fire or a cooker, a large stone bowl is used, which is filled with sand. Inside the fountain there is a hollow where burning charcoal is placed, which will heat the sand.
When you heat a stone, the temperature is very high, isn’t it? Well, the same happens with sand (which are still tiny pebbles). For this reason, spatulas or metal spoons are used to stir the sand and homogenise its surface.
The cezves, previously filled with water and ground coffee (and sugar, if a guest wishes), are placed in the sand and immersed until the hot sand reaches almost to the edge. Then you just have to wait a few seconds, until the water almost reaches boiling point (just then you remove it, stir it, and repeat the process two or three times).
For this reason, let’s observe that almost “magical” effect, that the cezve or metal container is filled again and again with coffee when it is placed on the sand. In reality, the only thing that happens is that the coffee – when it is about to boil – overflows the container (as if we put water to boil in a saucepan), and at that moment it is poured over the cup or glass of the diner. Then the cezve is brought back to the boil, and because the sand is so hot, it only takes a few seconds for it to overflow again.
This effect can be seen very clearly in this video:
The point of heating coffee in the sand is that the temperature is evenly distributed over the entire surface of the coffee container. In other words, something similar to what would happen if we heated it in a bain-marie (but without a cooker or an electric socket).
Advantages of brewing coffee in the sand
There are three main advantages to brewing coffee in the sand:
- Some say that coffee in the sand is the most authentic and traditional technique of making Turkish-style coffee.
- The temperature is evenly distributed throughout the cezve (or copper vessel containing the coffee).
- Many cezves can be heated at the same time and at the same temperature. As many as will fit in our sand fountain.
What if I want to make coffee in the sand at home?
Well, it’s a bit difficult if you don’t live in Turkey or a country close to that region… but you know that Amazon has literally everything. And yes, you can also buy sand coffee machines to set up in your living room. Provided you have the space, of course. Take a look: