Tips on Turkish Coffee

I have said on several occasions how I love coffee and my over indulgence has on the odd occasion brought on a caffeine headache. It was therefore a surprise that I hated Turkish coffee. I don’t understand how anyone can drink a cup of mud like substance and not throw up. The giveaway was when the taste was describes as “interesting” – I should have realised then that I was not missing a lot.

Nevertheless I thought I would give the recipe as explained by our Tour Guide, Aykut, on our recent Turkish road trip in case anyone braver than me is tempted.

Firstly you must understand that in Turkey coffee is a big thing.  The question is not do you want a coffee, but rather how do you have your Turkish coffee. By ‘how’, your host is asking about the amount of sugar you would like and to answer, you say “sade” – no sugar; “az seker” a little sugar; or “sekerli” very sweet. It is then the responsibility of the person making the coffee, usually the youngest girl of the house (I will expand on this when I get around to arranged marriages) to prepare it according to everyone’s individual preferences.

Making Turkish coffee requires no special skills but there is a ritual to follow and it cannot be rushed especially if each person’s preference is different as cups are made individually and not just in a large pot.

According to Aykut, the Turks buy tiny quantities of coffee, about 250g at a time, to ensure it is always fresh. It is ground extra fine and used as needed rather than storing in a jar. You also need quality water and a metal spoon for stirring, together with a special wide bottom pot, usually made of copper with a long wooden handle called an Ibrik. Coffee is always served in cups the size of an espresso cup, however even the beautifully decorated cups were not enough to tempt me to try a second time.


Turkish coffee is famed for the way it is made.

  • Always use cold, filtered water. To measure the amount of water for each cup, use the coffee cup you are serving the coffee in, rather than a standard measuring cup.
  • For each cup of coffee, use a heaping tablespoon of ground coffee.  Do not stir it yet. Just let the coffee “float” on the surface of the water because if you stir it now you might cause it to clump together. Put the pot on the stove to heat.
  • Add sugar to taste. Still Do Not Stir – let the water warm a little. Turn the heat to medium-high for about 3-4 minutes.
  • When the coffee starts to sink into the water and the water is warm enough to dissolve the sugar, stir it several times this encourages foam to build up.
  •  As the coffee warms and the bubbles form on the surface, turn down the heat. This dark foam is important. It is customary to serve Turkish coffee with foam on top.
  •  Using a teaspoon, transfer some of the foam into each coffee cup.
  •  Return the pot to the heat, when hot, pour half the liquid into the cups over the foam.
  •  Return coffee pot to stove again for an additional 15-20 seconds and pour the rest of the liquid into the cups, filling them to the rim.
  •  It is extremely important never take your eye off the process. Do not let the temperature get hot enough to start boiling or the coffee will taste bitter.
  • Keep it at the “foaming” stage as long as you can. The more froth, the better it will taste.

Serving and Drinking Turkish Coffee

  • Turkish coffee must always be served with foam on top. Do not stir after pouring into cups or the foam will collapse.
  • Wait about half a minute or so to let the grinds settle to the bottom of your cup, then drink sip by sip.
  • Turkish coffee is always served with a glass of water. Drink this first to cleanse your palate.
  • Cream or milk is never added to Turkish coffee.
  • If you want to go authentic or want to tone down the strength and intensity of the brew, you can add spices such as cardamom or anise.
  • Most people like to serve coffee with a small sweet like Turkish delight or a chocolate.
  • When it comes to serving, it is important to start with the eldest guest in the room. It is a sign of respect to acknowledge their age and considered disrespectful not to do so.
  • Since Turkish coffee is much denser than filtered coffee, it is not customary to drink more than one cup.
  • In some regions, your fortune can be told by the placement of the coffee grinds left in the cup!

Images taken from various sources on internet
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