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What is Turkish Coffee?

Written by . Published on under the Coffee category.

A traditional Turkish coffee cup full of coffee sitting on a brown table

My local coffee shop has Turkish roots. The shop serves traditional Turkish cuisine alongside coffee. On their menu, they list that they serve Turkish coffee. I’ve been intrigued by this offering ever since I first saw their menu but I never ordered the coffee. I always went for safer drinks, such as the flat white, which I knew I would like. I’ve never been one for ordering black coffee outside of my home; I can make black coffee at home.

I had no plans for lunch so I decided to go out for a Turkish coffee. I did place an order for a cream cheese bagel after my coffee. I could not resist.

What is Turkish Coffee?

Turkish coffee is the way in which coffee was traditionally served in many Arab countries, such as Turkey. Turkish coffee is not filtered, unlike many coffees served through modern brewing methods, which means a fine layer of sediment usually appears at the bottom of each serving. It is a strong coffee, similar to an espresso, and so it is typically served in smaller glasses.

How is Turkish Coffee Brewed?

Turkish coffee is brewed using a cezve, or an ibrik (the Western term). A cezve is an hourglass-shaped container with a handle attached.

First, water is poured into the cezve and then the cezve is put on a boil. The water is poured to the neck of the pot. The grounds of the coffee are added to the water when the water is warm. Turkish coffee is known for using a very fine grind, finer than that of an espresso drink. This means that Turkish coffee brews relatively quickly as the coffee has more surface area in contact with the water.

The pot of coffee is heated up until a foam appears in the coffee. Then, the coffee is removed from the heat. The coffee is left for a few moments and is then placed on the heat again a few times. The number of times the coffee is taken off the heat varies by the person who is brewing the coffee. Once the coffee has been taken of the heat a few times, the coffee is ready for serving. It is poured into a small cup.

I asked my barista why the cup in which my Turkish coffee was served was so small (picture at the start of this post). The cup in which my coffee was served was made specifically for Turkish coffee. Turkish coffee is served in smaller cups because it is supposed to be a short, powerful drink.

My Experience Drinking Turkish Coffee

The coffee I was served was very hot. I had to wait a few moments for the drink to cool down even though it was served in a small cup. I pursed my lips up to the cup a few times to evaluate the heat of the cup so I did not burn myself. After about five or so minutes, I took my first sip.

I think the coffee I had was slightly sweetened. I have read that Turkish coffee is often sweetened. I do not usually take sugar in coffee but I forgot about how Turkish coffee is often served with sugar until many moments after I had placed my order. I enjoyed having the traditional drink without making any special requests. The barista has more experience with Turkish coffee than I do.

The coffee was strong and had a hint of bitterness. I was not so focused on the flavors of the coffee as I was thinking about the brewing method. The coffee was smooth to drink but I did pace myself. It took me about twenty minutes or so to drink the full cup, perhaps longer. I think the coffee is more appropriate for sipping than it is for drinking as a shot, like one would with espresso. There was a fine foam on the top of the cup, almost like an espresso crema.

At the bottom of the cup, there was a fine sediment. The sediment made the very bottom of the cup invisible. I was glad that the sediment remained at the bottom of the cup even as I neared my last few sips otherwise I would have had a mouthful of coffee grounds. I am unsure why the sediment stayed so well at the bottom of the cup. I’ve read this sediment is common in Turkish coffee.

Would I have Turkish coffee again? Yes, I would. I’d like to try it without the sugar too. The drink was surprisingly smooth as I expected something very intense in flavor, like a double espresso shot. Perhaps the sugar helped take the edge off the bitterness.

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