What is Turkish coffee and how is it prepared?

Turkish coffee is a way of preparing and serving coffee, typical of the Turks. It was inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on Unesco’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Arabica coffee beans ground to the flour’s thickness are used, resulting in a very intense coffee served in small cups without a handle. This coffee is served with or without sugar, but if sugar is used, it is diluted with ground coffee and water before boiling it.

The main tool for preparing Turkish coffee is a small pot for boiling water with ground coffee and sugar called “Cezve. This pot is made of copper and brass and has a long handle, sometimes covered with wood to avoid burning with heat.

My Turkish coffee maker or “Cezve”
My Turkish coffee maker or “Cezve”

What is Turkish coffee like, and what does it taste like?

Turkish coffee prepared with the cezve is known for being one of the best ways to prepare coffee worldwide. This coffee maker is easy to use and produces excellent results in each preparation, even without the need to be a coffee expert.

The taste of Turkish coffee prepared with the cezve is smooth and round, with a concentrated but not aggressive body. In addition, its aroma is incomparable, and you will not find it in any other coffee maker. This recipe will produce a clean cup of coffee without residues or particles and can be adjusted to satisfy any taste preference.

Freshly served Turkish coffee
Freshly served Turkish coffee

The cezve is easy to clean and looks beautiful in any kitchen. In addition, it can brew any coffee, from lighter to darker roasts, without requiring a special roast.

Brewing with this coffee maker will allow the full potential of the coffee to open up, allowing chocolate, fruit, or berry flavors to stand out in the cup. Each flavor will be clean and crisp yet balanced.

Overall, Turkish coffee prepared with the cezve is comparable to a well-brewed espresso but less aggressive in acidity, making it an easy drink that can be enjoyed anytime.

How is Turkish coffee prepared?

As I have pointed out in the introduction, Turkish coffee is not a type of coffee but a way of preparing and serving coffee.

To brew authentic Turkish coffee, it is necessary to use a Turkish coffee maker (Cezve) and to grind the coffee very finely since it will not be filtered but infused. Normally a special grinder is used to grind the coffee very fine, although most modern grinders are capable of grinding this fine.

If your grinder does not achieve a grind as fine as flour, the alternative is to buy the special pre-ground coffee for Turkish coffee makers.

Types of Turkish coffee

There is only one way to prepare authentic Turkish coffee. However, there are three types of Turkish coffee that have to do with the amount of sugar they contain:

  • Without sugar, it is called “sade“.
  • For very little sugar, it is called “az seker“.
  • For 1 or 2 teaspoons of sugar, it is called “orta“.
  • For 3 or 4 teaspoons of sugar, it is called “sekerli“.

The recipe you see below is the one that works best for me, but you can adjust it to your tastes or needs until you get the perfect Turkish coffee for you. This recipe is for a Turkish coffee az seker:

Steps to prepare Turkish coffee

  1. Choose quality coffee beans and ensure that not too much time has passed since they were ground. The time since roasting does not matter too much in Turkish coffee.
  2. Ideally, grind the coffee beans just before preparing them. The grind size should be as fine as flour.
  3. Add water at a temperature of 140°F to the Turkish coffee maker to shorten the brewing time.
  4. Use a ratio of 1:10; that is, for every 17 grams of coffee, use 170 grams of water.
  5. Preheat your Cezve and pour the water inside. If you preheat it, the temperature of the water will barely drop below 140°F.
  6. Add the ground coffee and mix until the lumps disappear. Use chopsticks to avoid scratching the thin layer of tin inside the copper coffee maker.
  7. Heat the pot over low heat and ensure not to burn the coffee. The foam will form around 158°F and turn light to dark as the water heats up. We aim to heat until a caramel-colored crust forms when the coffee is ready.
  8. The preparation time varies from 2 to 7 minutes, depending on the size of the cezve and the intensity of the fire.
  9. Serve the coffee in small cups and wait 3 to 5 minutes for the coffee particles to fall before tasting it.

Remember that to obtain an excellent flavor; it is important to grind the coffee just before preparing it and to control the heat and color during the preparation process. In this way, you can enjoy a smooth, round cup of coffee with an incredible aroma.

The importance of the color of the crust during the preparation of Turkish Coffee

The color of the crust is a key factor in preparing a delicious Turkish coffee. If the crust is of a light color, the coffee will be acidic, and if it is too dark, it will be bitter. The balance in the color of the crust varies for each coffee, but generally, the objective is to reach a caramel color.

As we said in the previous section, at 158 °F, the first stage of the crust will occur; the formation of the foam. It will have a clear and uniform color as a result of the mixture of water with the oils of the coffee:

Foam formation at 158º F
Foam formation at 158º F

At around 167 °F, the actual crust will form through the appearance of bubbles, which is coffee that rises from the bottom of the coffee maker. The color changes from light to dark brown.

Crust formation at 167 °F
Crust formation at 167 °F

Observe if the crust changes color evenly or if it begins to darken first at one edge. The coffee is ready if the edge is too dark and the center is still bright. But wait a little longer if the center is too bright and wide. The ideal temperature for Turkish coffee is around 190 °F.

Caramel-colored crust at 190°F
Caramel-colored crust at 190°F

It is best to use a cezve for one cup. If you prepare multiple coffees, distribute the coffee evenly in each cup.

When you taste it, take small sips to enjoy its strong aroma and texture. And to appreciate all the flavors of Turkish coffee, it is advisable to taste it at room temperature.

The Turkish coffee ritual: how is it served?

Turkish coffee is a traditional ritual in Turkish culture enjoyed for its flavor and aesthetics. It is used to receive guests and social or business meetings and has different forms of presentation depending on the place and time of day.

Turkish coffee is often served with a glass of cold water to cleanse the palate before drinking the coffee (never after), and a small piece of sweet (Turkish delight) to balance the taste while drinking.

Turkish coffee is usually drunk mainly after lunch or dinner and rarely served at breakfast. Although it is currently served in common cups with a plate and spoon, the most traditional form is in a handle-less glass called a “fincan” inside a copper protector called a “zarf“.

Turkish coffee is an art valued for its preparation process, flavor, and presentation. Serving it is a way to experience the Middle East’s rich cultural heritage and be transported to a different time and place.

The Turkish coffee ritual is carried out carefully to obtain a perfect result and remains an integral part of Turkish culture.

What spices can be added to Turkish coffee?

It is possible to add many spices to sweeten coffee. Spices are usually very appreciated by those who dislike drinking bitter and tasteless coffee.

The spices you add can sweeten the coffee and make it smoother without the calories of sugar. In addition, you can discover different blends according to your taste.

In this way, you can combine the benefits of spices and coffee to produce delicious and healthy varieties of coffee for your body. Here is a list of several spices that can be used with Turkish coffee:

  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Vanilla
  • Saffron
  • Muscatel
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric

Frequently asked questions and answers

What is so special about Turkish coffee?

Turkish coffee is distinguished by its preparation method, which involves grinding the coffee beans very finely and boiling them in water (with or without sugar). A copper pot called “Cezve” is used, and it is a very important drink in Turkish culture, considered a symbol of hospitality and friendship.

How is Turkish coffee drunk?

Turkish coffee is drunk in small porcelain cups without handles called “fincan“, often accompanied by a glass of cold water to cleanse the palate before drinking the coffee. It can be sweetened with sugar or unsweetened, depending on each person’s preference, and it is accompanied by a few small sweets to balance the taste of the coffee.

What is the flavor of Turkish coffee?

Turkish coffee has a strong and concentrated flavor, with notes of spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. It can also have a slightly bitter taste and an intense aroma.

What spices does Turkish coffee contain?

Turkish coffee can contain a variety of spices, including cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger. These spices are added to the ground coffee before boiling it in water and help to give the coffee its characteristic flavor and aroma.

Why is Turkish coffee drunk with water?

Water is served with Turkish coffee to cleanse the palate before drinking the coffee. Drinking the water after the coffee can be interpreted as not liking the coffee.

Written by Pablo Barrantes Nevado
I am Pablo Barrantes, a coffee lover. I decided to start this website to solve all the doubts that arise every day when preparing our favorite drink: coffee. I am an industrial engineer by profession, but I have worked in coffee shops for many years, where I have learned all the secrets about coffee machines and coffee. My passion for coffee has led me to investigate and study beyond the obvious, and thanks to this, I can offer solutions and give news about coffee and coffee makers. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I research, document and write here.

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