By Debbie Rogers: One of my favourite ways to end a dinner is to sip into a good Turkish coffee. Dark, intense and piping hot and often served table side from a Turkish Coffee pot known as the Cezve (pronounced jezz-va), it’s more than just a coffee. It’s as if tradition and history are pouring themselves into each cup.
I first really discovered Turkish Coffee first in Istanbul, about fifteen years ago. Sometimes it was served elaborately at the table and other times it was prepared quickly and plonked on the table carelessly. Regardless of how it was served the intense rich flavour pulled me in, the slightly powdery feel as I drank the coffee, the rich smell and the intensity of aromas are something that I adore.
Turkish Coffee is a way of preparation and serving unfiltered coffee which has been simmered in a pot over heat as it brews and is also referred to as Arabic Coffee. The pot or the Cezve has been designed specifically to make Turkish Coffee. Traditionally made in brass or copper, the more modern ones are made of steel, aluminium or ceramic. The Cezve is also commonly known as the Ibrik and there are Ibrik championships across the World.
Throwing tradition aside, it’s also possible to make Turkish Coffee in a modern Turkish Coffee Maker, which is an electric version of the Cezve.
In the Middle East, other types of simmered coffee, including Syrian Coffee, Lebanese Coffee and Egyptian Coffee are all slightly different variations of Turkish Coffee in terms of flavour.
Preparation of Turkish Coffee: It is made by firstly grinding the beans to a fine powder, traditionally in a mortar, but more likely now in an electric grinder. The best grind however is done in a traditional Turkish hand grinder, which allows the grind to be incredibly fine which, most electric and/ or hand grinders can’t achieve. Once ground, the powder is added to hot water (simmering, not boiling) and cooked over the heat until the powder has virtually dissolved and the flavours have intensified in the water. Usually, the coffee is brought close to boil point about three times, making sure it doesn’t boil. Also, it’s not stirred, as this would dissolve the foam, which is a complete no, no.
Making good Turkish Coffee is really a fine art that I am still trying to learn – if it’s kept too long on the heat then the coffee tastes burnt. Equally, if it is not done for long enough then the coffee is regarded as too weak. Leaving the coffee pot on it’s own even for a slight moment can lead to a disaster as it can overheat and boil over in a matter of seconds, leaving behind a nasty mess and a missed coffee opportunity!
Sugar is added to the coffee whilst it’s brewing, when ordering Turkish coffee you should be aware of this and order appropriately. I like to opt for ‘no sugar’, but it also comes as ‘little sugar’, ‘medium sugar’ and a ‘lot of sugar’, which refers to half a teaspoon, one teaspoon and one and a half to two teaspoons respectively. Do bear in mind that the serving size is in small Turkish Coffee cups (demitasse size – 90 ml) so that’s a lot of sugar to dissolve in a small quantity of water!
I love my coffee without sugar, but a Turkish Coffee is often served with sugar which is added during the brewing process and served in small coffee cups complete with the fine coffee grounds. My tip here – never drink to the bottom of the cup or you will get an unpleasant mouthful of coffee power!
Brewing might sound easy, but there’s an art there too, not only in terms of extracting the flavour of the coffee, but also in the foam. A thick layer of foam shows the skill of the coffee maker and this is also the reason why coffee is poured from a height from the pots into the cup, as this can add to the foam.
Enjoyed your coffee? It is said that the pattern of the grounds tipped onto a saucer, can be used for fortune telling using a method called Tasseography. I’ve not seen this in action as yet, but my own personal reading of the coffee grounds (assuming I’ve not gulped them down by accident) always tells me to order just one more cup of Turkish Coffee!
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