Brewing Turkish coffee is an art form that requires precision, patience and practice. From selecting the right coffee to the precise measurement of ingredients to the delicate dance of boiling and serving, brewing the perfect Turkish coffee is an actual form of art.
The Turkish coffee recipe, for one cup, in a nutshell, is:
- Use a 1:10 weight ratio of coffee to water (this is approximately one heaping teaspoon to a small coffee cup)
- Add sugar to an empty pot if you want sweetness.
- Add cool water to the pot.
- Mix the coffee gently with cool water in the pot. After this, there is no mixing anymore!
- Bring gently to the near boiling point (when the foam starts to form and expand). The ideal brewing time is about 2.5 minutes.
- Pour your coffee slowly into your favourite cup.
- Let it cool for a minute.
- Serve with something sweet!
The final result is worth it. A deep, rich aroma, a smooth and velvety texture, and a complex and satisfying flavour will transport you to a different world.
Let's dive deeper and learn more detailed secrets of brewing a perfect Turkish coffee.
Essential equipment for brewing Turkish coffee
The art of brewing the perfect cup of Turkish coffee requires simple equipment: a traditional coffee pot, high-quality coffee, a spoon and a heat source.
The traditional Turkish coffee pot (Cezve/Ibrik)
The Turkish Coffee Pot (Cezve/Ibrik): This is a small, long-handled pot designed explicitly for brewing Turkish coffee. It is usually made of copper, brass, or stainless steel. The traditional Cezve is made of copper and is considered the best for brewing because it heats evenly.
The top of the Ibrik is smaller in diameter than the bottom, giving perfect control over the delicate moment of the temperature where coffee is forming foam and starts to rise, but the water is not yet at boiling point.
When brewing Turkish coffee, it is best to use high-quality coffee beans specifically intended for this brewing method. The most commonly used coffee bean for Turkish coffee is Arabica.
If you're not sure where to find high-quality Turkish coffee, you can check with local speciality coffee shops or online retailers.
Should I use Arabica or Robusta for Turkish coffee?
Arabica beans are known for their milder and well-balanced flavour, with notes of chocolate and fruit. They are also less bitter and have a higher acidity than Robusta beans.
Turkish coffee is rarely made with Robusta because of its high level of bitterness. Robusta beans are often used to add body and crema to espresso blends. But, for Turkish coffee, Robusta is not generally the best option.
The perfect roast level for Turkish coffee
The ideal roast level for Turkish coffee is medium or slightly above medium. A medium roast allows the beans to retain their natural flavours and aromas, which are essential for the traditional Turkish coffee experience.
A slightly darker roast will give a stronger, bolder flavour with chocolatey notes and less acidity. However, too dark a roast is not ideal for Turkish coffee because it masks the natural flavours and makes the coffee easily taste burnt. In this brewing method, the tiny powdered coffee bean particles are in straight contact with water, and thus all burnt elements will taste.
Beans should be freshly roasted and ground to a very fine consistency, almost powdery, using a manual or electric grinder.
The brewing process
Here is your guide to mastering the traditional art of brewing the perfect cup of Turkish coffee.
The correct measure of coffee and water
As a general guideline, a standard Turkish coffee is typically made with about 7-8 grams of finely ground coffee for each small cup of 2 to 2.5 ounces (60-70ml).
In weight terms, the ratio of coffee to water for Turkish coffee is 1:10.
This means that for every 1 gram of coffee, you should use 10 grams of water. However, this ratio can be adjusted to suit your personal taste.
Some people like their Turkish coffee much stronger 1:8 ratio, and some prefer a milder, even up to 1:12 ratio. So, there is room for adjustment according to the coffee used and your preferences. I even have a friend who likes the morning coffee stronger and then her late afternoon coffee milder.
If you do not have an accurate scale, you can start with one heaping teaspoon (about 10 grams) of finely ground coffee per small cup (100ml) of water. This will give you a flavorful cup of coffee. From this basic recipe, you can adjust the amount of coffee and water to suit your taste.
Like any coffee brewing, generate a repeatable baseline by measuring everything with scale or using volume measurements with spoons and cups. Make either mental or written notes and when you taste the ready cup, think about what things could be tweaked to improve the results even more. Then you can make tiny changes when you are brewing next time.
It's important to note that the water used for Turkish coffee should be cold, filtered and free of any impurities. Some people even use bottled fridge cold water for the best results.
The delicate dance of boiling and serving
The coffee and water should be mixed gently together before adding the pot to the mild heat stove or gas burner.
Turkish coffee is traditionally brewed slowly over low heat, not to burn the coffee and let the coffee aromas slowly come out.
Turkish coffee should be brewed over low heat for about 2.5 minutes, and the idea here is to bring the temperature slowly to the near boiling point. Adjust the temperature slightly during brewing to achieve an ideal brewing time.
Once the coffee starts to foam and rise to the top, it's time to remove it from the heat and pour it into cups.
Coffee crema bubbles and other tricks while brewing
Be sure to keep an eye on the first foam bubbles that start to form on the sides of the coffee and water mixture surface. Some people call these little bubbles "fish eyes".
When "fish eyes" start to form, the coffee starts to form even more foam from the sides. And from this point, the foam begins to move towards the centre and starts to rise. At this very moment, turn the heat off and remove the pot from the stove. You have only a few seconds to react before the coffee boils over.
Once you get used to spotting this just before boiling point, you can also learn to hear it if the room is quiet. True masters can do other kitchen tasks or prepare the coffee serving with nice sweet things to nibble while brewing a perfect cup of Turkish coffee. And they do this by listening to the coffee. But in the beginning, I recommend just staring at the coffee because when it starts to boil over, it really goes all over in a few seconds and messes up your stove. And at this point, the perfect cup of coffee is ruined by overheating and ruined crema.
There are a lot of YouTube videos where the street coffee seller allows the foam to rise multiple times by controlling the temperature. But when it comes to gourmet coffee, these entertaining displays just add bitterness to your cup.
When the rich aroma of brewing Turkish coffee fills the air, and the velvety foam starts to dance on the pot's surface, it's time to take it off the heat and pour it into delicate cups. But be careful. As you pour, you have to be gentle and slow to preserve the naturally formed crema that sits on top. This layer of crema is like the crown of your cup of coffee, and it's a sign of a perfectly brewed cup.
Things to avoid while brewing
- Using old or stale coffee. Turkish coffee is made with finely ground coffee beans, so it's important to use fresh, high-quality beans specifically intended and ground for this brewing method. Old or stale beans will affect the flavour of the coffee and make it taste bitter.
- Overheating the coffee. Turkish coffee should be brewed slowly over low heat to avoid overheating the coffee. Overheating the coffee will cause it to become bitter and lose its finer aroma.
- Using the wrong water. The water you use to brew your Turkish coffee should be cold, filtered and free of impurities. Using tap water or water with a high mineral content can affect the flavour of the coffee. Use bottled or filtered water if your tap water has a strong odour or taste, as it will affect the taste of the coffee.
- Not measuring the ingredients precisely. Turkish coffee is delicate, and slight variations in the ratio of coffee to water will significantly impact the final taste. Measuring the ingredients precisely is important to ensure you get the perfect cup. The measurements can be done with a scale or with your standard teaspoon and favourite cups.
- Not using the right equipment: Using a traditional Turkish coffee pot (Cezve/Ibrik) and delicate cups are needed to achieve the best results.
- Over brewing can cause the foam to dissipate, so it's important to remove the coffee from the heat just before it reaches a boil.
- Stirring the coffee during the brewing process. When the pot is on the stove, you do not stir anymore!
The magic of spices and sweeteners - Adding a touch of sweetness with sugar
For a touch of sweetness in your cup, sugar is a popular addition to Turkish coffee. Many people prefer their coffee on the sweeter side, and it's common for the person making the coffee to ask about your sugar preference. In many cultures, adding sugar is the default, but you can always customize it to your taste.
A general guideline is to use 1-2 teaspoons of sugar per each teaspoon of coffee. This can be adjusted to taste. Some people like sweeter coffee and use more sugar, and some prefer less sweet coffee and less sugar.
Sugar must be added before anything else in the Ibrik. Then gently pour water and, even gentler, mix the coffee. This way, the sugar stays at the bottom. The sweetness of sugar at the bottom oozes out when the pot is heated, giving a slightly caramelized flavour.
When brewing Turkish coffee, some popular spices that can be used include:
- Cardamom: This spice adds a unique and aromatic flavour to the coffee. It is also believed to have health benefits, such as aiding digestion.
- Cloves: This spice is often used in combination with cardamom. It adds a warm and pungent flavour to the coffee.
- Cinnamon: This spice is used to add a warm and spicy flavour to the coffee. It is also believed to have health benefits, such as being a natural antioxidant.
- Nutmeg: This spice adds a nutty and warm flavour to the coffee. It is also believed to have health benefits, such as reducing inflammation.
- Vanilla: This spice adds a sweet and creamy flavour to the coffee.
- Star anise: This spice adds a sweet and liquorice-like flavour to the coffee.
These spices are used in various proportions according to preference and taste. They can be added to the ground or directly to the coffee pot with the coffee before brewing.
Serving and savouring the perfect cup
Turkish coffee cups are small and delicate, usually made of porcelain, glass or copper. They are designed to hold the coffee's heat and let the aroma be appreciated. The traditional Turkish coffee cups are small and have a simple design, often decorated with intricate patterns, calligraphy, or motifs.
The traditional Turkish coffee cups are called "Fincan" in Turkish and come in different sizes and colours. However, the most common size is around 2-3 oz (60-90ml), which is perfect for enjoying the strong aroma and taste of the coffee.
Copper cups are also very popular, as they are believed to enhance the flavour of the coffee. Copper cups are often hand-hammered and adorned with intricate engravings, making them both functional and decorative.
The traditional way of serving Turkish coffee is in a group, where a big pot of coffee is prepared and poured into small cups. The coffee is usually served with a glass of water on the side to cleanse the palate before drinking the coffee.
Using traditional Turkish coffee cups is an important aspect of the ritual of drinking Turkish coffee. It's not just about the coffee but also about the experience and the cultural significance. The decorative cups and the coffee pot play an essential role in creating the perfect ambience for enjoying a cup of traditional Turkish coffee.
The traditional way of serving and drinking Turkish coffee
The traditional way of drinking Turkish coffee is to hold the cup in your hand and take small sips, allowing the coffee to cool slightly before taking another sip.
Enjoying the coffee with food or desserts
The coffee is consumed slowly, savouring the aroma and flavour. It is traditionally served with a small Turkish Delight or piece of Lokum, a sweet treat made of starch and sugar.
The social aspect of drinking Turkish coffee
In some cultures, it's considered an act of hospitality to offer Turkish coffee to guests, and it's also a way to bond with friends and family. It's also common to read fortunes by analyzing the fine coffee grounds left in the cup, a tradition called Tasseography.
Are you looking for a new and unique coffee experience? Look no further than Turkish coffee! Want to learn even more?
The process of brewing Turkish coffee is simple and doesn't require any fancy machines or gadgets. With the right equipment and some practice, you can brew delicious Turkish coffee in the comfort of your own home. Once you have all the ingredients and equipment, you can start brewing your Turkish coffee in a few minutes.
One of the best things about brewing Turkish coffee at home is the ability to customize it to your taste. You can adjust the amount of sugar, the ratio of coffee to water, and the brewing time to suit your preference. You can also experiment with different coffee beans to find the perfect flavour.
How Take Your Turkish Coffee Game to the Next Level? Suggestions for further exploration of Turkish coffee culture.
Turkish coffee has a rich history dating back centuries, and many books and articles are available that delve into the origins and evolution of the tradition.
Try different types of coffee. Turkish coffee is more than just a method of brewing. A big part of Turkish coffee mastery is to know about and experiment with coffee beans roasted and ground in a unique way. Try different coffee beans to find the one you like the most.
You may also want to grind your own coffee to perfect the coffee enjoyment. Read our practical guide about how to grind your coffee for Turkish coffee.
Experience different variations. Turkish coffee culture is not only limited to Turkey, but also other countries in the region have their own interpretation of Turkish coffee, such as Greek, Arabic and Bosnian coffee. Each country has its own way of brewing, serving and drinking Turkish coffee.
To keep track of your Turkish coffee brewing adventures, you might enjoy our one-page log page specially designed for our Turkish Coffee lover friends. It includes notes on flavor, aroma, and more, and it is free to download. Download HERE and elevate your coffee-tasting experience to the next level! To buy the log book, please click here: Turkish Coffee Tasting Log Book.