What is Turkish coffee and how is it drunk?

One of the places you should visit at least once in your life is Turkey. And one of the coffees that you must try sometime in your life is the typical coffee from there, Turkish coffee (which you can order as türk kahvesi, pronounced more or less “Turk kahavesse”. Don’t you know what Turkish coffee is? Well, it is not a regular coffee, it is not a coffee as you imagine, and you must be even a little bit careful when you drink it.

What do we need to make Turkish coffee?

Cerve for Turkish coffee

We will need the following utensils to prepare an excellent Turkish coffee:

  • A cezve (pronounced something like “Yessve”). It is a metal coffee maker, shaped like a huge handle jug (so as not to burn us), and it is also used to decant the brew once it has been cooked. We can resort to electric modes or to some versions of the cezve that have less glamour but that we can put correctly on top of the glass-ceramic. For the Greeks and Romanians, this utensil has another name: Briki. If you do not want to complicate your life: use a regular ladle. In our guide to Turkish coffee machines, you will find numerous options.
  • Arabica coffee. It is the variety of coffee that Turkish use (if you wonder why to think of its name?). Natural coffee, please; not roasted. We must roast the coffee beans a little before grinding them. Some exporters and manufacturers sell pre-ground coffee.
  • A grinder to transform the Arabic coffee beans into a powder that has a texture like that of icing sugar. If an electric grinder can grind small seeds (such as flax), it can perfectly grind coffee to that texture. It is essential that there are no large deposits: remember that you don’t filter Turkish coffee.
  • Cups. Türk Kahvesi is drunk in small cups, which initially did not have a handle (today it is not uncommon to find them with it) and which would be the size of Italian espresso or a black coffee that we could drink. They are called Fincan. If they do not have a handle, they are introduced to a metallic device called a zarf.
  • Water. You must infuse it into something. We’ll use the cups to measure. Important: we will use both boiling and cold water.

How do you make Turkish coffee?

How Turkish coffee is served
  1. We boil as many cups of water as we have guests. Measure with one of the cups you’re going to use. We will use the same cezve, but you can speed up the process using an electric kettle. But the cezve must be on fire; that’s where we’ll make everything.
  2. If you’re going to use sugar, we’ll put it in now. We can’t put sugar in later. Think about how sweet you like it. We put it in and stir it until it dissolves. Coffee with sugar is usually called “women’s coffee”, and without sugar, “men’s coffee”.
  3. We pour the coffee: between one and two teaspoons per cup. The coffee should be freshly ground, or if we grind too much at once, we should store it hermetically or vacuum packed.
  4. When it boils for the first time, remove the cezve from the heat and spread the foam in the cups as evenly as possible. We put it back on the fire.
  5. When it boils for the second time, we lower the fire to the minimum, and we keep the coffee for a couple of minutes more.
  6. When you are ready to serve it, add one or two spoonful’s of cold water so that the coffee grounds go to the bottom, and serve the coffee without filtering.
  7. We will accompany it with a glass of cold water (some people drink it before, and some people drink it after to keep their mouths clean after the coffee). If you have Turkish delicacies (Lokum), use them to accompany this coffee; it will be great.

What is the Turkish coffee ritual?

Turkish coffee ritual

Coffee is served in tiny cups as soon as it comes out of the fire, and we should not wait too long to drink it. You don’t want it to get cold. It is sipped; remember that the coffee is not filtered. We should stop drinking coffee as soon as we notice more than enough coffee ground in our mouths.

If we have guests in our house, it is a good sign that we offer the coffee to the guest first. If this guest is also a girl’s boyfriend, the coffee should be made by the bride. Sometimes she will put salt instead of sugar; if she drinks it without complaining, it will be well received by the girl’s family. Some spit in the cup. You know how traditions can be.

It is also usual to have coffee after dinner and in the morning, but not for breakfast. It is taken indiscriminately at any time of the day. It is also usual, especially if you drink coffee among Turks, mainly if there is a girl, to use the dregs to read the future. What they do is put the saucer on top of the cup and turn it over to understand what is stuck to the cup. It is common for them to say, “don’t believe what you see, but don’t stop either”. It is common in the Anatolian area.

Finally, I want to give you some personal advice. Please don’t be as dumb as I am. At the buffet of the hotel where I stayed during my last vacation in Bursa, I made the mistake of pouring myself a massive cup of coffee that I assumed would be like ours, and I topped it off with a sugar packet. After pouring the sugar, I stirred the cup. It formed a kind of mud that I could not drink at all.