Turkish coffee... that mysterious, unfamiliar form of coffee that everybody has heard the name of, but knows nothing about. A quick internet search from the curious reveals how seemingly everyone who dares make it makes it vastly different from each other: so much so, that no one can know which recipe is the 'real' one. Nearly every recipe seems heavily based on old (outdated??) tradition, so how do you know if this one is any good and that one not? And of course, the majority of coffee shops probably won't offer this brewing method, so you don't know what to aim for, to know if you are getting it right or not (the places that do offer it in the US are most likely hookah bars... not the place to find quality coffee for sure...).
So how did I get started making this stuff?? It was way back when I was getting into coffee, when I was upgrading the whirley-blade grinder for a burr grinder. I constrained myself to hand grinders because they were vastly cheaper and I liked the idea of hand-grinding anyways. I would always see the awesome-looking brass 'Turkish' mills, and went ahead and got one, thinking that surely they could grind any size (for other brewing methods) if they can grind down to the dust that Turkish coffee demands. It wasn't a good grinder, but it did the job for over a year nevertheless. So naturally I began researching what this Turkish coffee stuff was... it looked mysterious, awesome, and different: the perfect combination to give it a try. In addition, there are less variables to play with- no temperature taking and no grind size dialing (the finer, the better). So I spent the $15 for a cezve and dove into this lost art.
I had done my Turkish coffee brewing research and was armed with several different methods, expecting some to work and some not to. The surprising thing was that none of them actually nail it... Does this technique consistently fail? Yes? Move on to the next. And so on and so forth. I persisted and kept trying over and over, until I got to the bottom of it. And pretty much every recipe gets it wrong to some degree- your flavor will be off (or downright awful!), your foam nonexistent and/or wimpy, or both. Essentially, I had to perfect it on my own through a trial-and-error basis. By now I have 3ish years of practice with it, I nail it in flavor and foam every single time, and it is my absolute favorite brewing method ever!
Why brew Turkish-style?
Why is Turkish coffee my favorite method? Simply put, Turkish coffee offers a flavor so amazing and rich, I have yet to taste a brewing method that surpasses it. Besides that, the taste is nearly indescribable. I will make a comparison here. Personally, although espresso is really good coffee, it can sometimes taste 'forced', but not in a bad way. Again, this is in comparison to Turkish coffee: it feels more 'natural' and represents the flavors very well and true, but yet not 'forced'. For reiteration, I have nothing against espresso. The main adjective to describe it remains rich though. In addition, it has a unique 'presentation' side to it (the foam) that makes it look plain awesome. Clean-up is very quick and simple. As stated earlier too, there are less variables to manage.
Let's Get On With It!
Okay, first thing's first: forget any Turkish coffee recipes you might be familiar with already, if you have read about them before. I've been through all of them and they don't work. Moving forward:
-Demitasse cup, or some small vessel that you are okay to drink out of (I use my weighing bowl after my Turkish cup broke). A typical 2-ounce espresso cup will probably be just a bit too small
-Small measuring cup
-One of those cheap $15 Turkish coffee pots will do, choose the smallest size. I'd stay away from the fancy painted ones for now, but buy what you want of course.
-A high-quality, infinitely adjustable grinder. I'd highly recommend a hand-grinder, but that's partially biased... When I mentioned high-quality, I mean dual-bearing: if it doesn't mention dual bearings anywhere in the product description, then it's safe to stay away from it. Those eye-catching brass Turkish mills actually work very well for this purpose, but beware that they aren't made for durability or frequent size-changing. I personally use the Orphan Espresso Lido E-T and it's superb. I'd recommend any grinder from OE, Knock, and Portaspresso. As for anything electric, I have no idea for lack of experience with them... An alternative I've never tried before, but enthusiastic about, is a mortar and pestle, give it a try if you want!
The grinder here is very important: if the coffee is even slightly too coarse, it'll be very noticeable in the foam and not pleasant to drink.
-Small stirrer of some sort, where the grounds won't stick: I cut a bbq bamboo skewer very short and that works great
You need 7.8 grams of coffee, plus or minus one bean. Of course it's okay to use light-roasted coffee, but it would be difficult to grind due to its high density. I'd recommend a coffee you enjoy on the medium-dark roasted side, such as from FC to FC+.
75ml or 1/3cup of filtered water. It can be either lukewarm or refrigerated; the only difference is a slightly longer brewing time.
The first thing to do is to start grinding right away. Make it as fine as possible of course. It should go into your fingerprint if you rub a bit in between your fingers when done. On my Lido E-T, it takes a few minutes to grind that small amount, but the result is perfect fluffy coffee dust. Pour it into the Turkish coffee pot when done.
Next pour in your water. It should fill up about halfway into the Turkish coffee pot. No stirring yet! Stirring now will form clumps which are easily avoidable and unwelcome. Carefully set it atop a gas simmer burner- no electric stoves will work well; gas only. Turn on the burner at a very low setting- the flames shouldn't be touching the pot. Too high a heat will not let enough time for proper extraction, and that's no fun...
The heat should form a thin layer of condensation on the sides of the pot. This happens much more so with refrigerated water. Whether using lukewarm or refrigerated water, eventually the condensation evaporates- this seems to be the perfect time to give the pot a good 'ole stirring (it's warm enough to prevent clumping). After stirring, don't touch it one bit. Let it sit still from now on.
Now is the most critical part of the brewing process. The freshness of the coffee, and the convection currents induced in the heating water, will soon cause foaming on the sides. If left untouched/forgotten, the sides will foam up more and more, the speed increasing. It will soon become vigorous enough to literally rise upwards, and will very easily rise above the pot and spill. But you are never to take it anywhere near that far. Some common myths are to let it rise up to the brim, either once, twice, or thrice, but those will always land you a disaster!
Here's where I differ from the norm, and urge you to follow: only let it foam up a little bit. The foam on the edges should be darker in color. They should be a dark brown, and the middle should be sandy in color (it becomes sandy after stirring). Let the area of the dark foam equal the area of the middle sandy foam. Never let the darker foam overtake the area of the sandy foam- at this point the foam will become unstable (an unstable foam will 'crack' on the surface of your cup). But by allowing it to foam up just a little bit, the final foam in the cup is stable and very repeatable. Once ready, pour it into your drinking vessel. From turning on the burner to pouring, 4-5 minutes should have passed.
After pouring, now is the perfect time to rinse out the pot- the cup needs to sit anyways to let the grounds settle to the bottom. Rinse it out and make sure there's no coffee left over. Dry it thoroughly, and put it up wherever you store it. Now you're free to enjoy! Congratulations!! Please feel free to ask questions and let me know how well it works for you!
Ibrik? Mokapot? Percolater? Flip Drip? Cowboy Coffee? An old sock?
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