what is turkish coffee? everything you need to know about it
Summary: Curious about Turkish coffee? Then you are at the right place. Below you will find what Turkish coffee is and why it is a gem in the coffee world. Let’s dive into the world of Turkish coffee to know more about a coffee made by the oldest coffee brewing method in the world!
Turkish coffee is very famous all around the world for its rich and thick taste, showy foam, and being a good company of warm conversations and rituals. Most people have either heard some stories about it or already tried it on occasion. Now, it is time to dive into more details about Turkish coffee and its culture.
What is Turkish Coffee?
Turkish coffee is a traditional coffee brewed by slowly heating the very fine ground coffee in cold water up to the boiling point on ember if possible or on the stove. To do so, a unique mostly copper-made Turkish coffee pot named “cezve” has been used for years. However, automated Turkish coffee machines have recently been developed and they are also very good at reflecting the traditional taste and texture of Turkish coffee.
There are four coffee brewing methods classified depending on how the water is introduced to the coffee around the world. We explained these four methods broadly in our dedicated blog. Of these four methods, Turkish coffee is made by decoction or boiling. Even though boiling is used to name this method, in fact, boiling is not wanted when making Turkish coffee because the boiling temperature causes the bitter acids to be released into the coffee. Not “boiling” but “heating up to a point very close to boiling” is a more correct way to explain how Turkish coffee is brewed.
Making coffee by boiling is the oldest coffee brewing method in the world. In fact, it was the main method until the late 1800s when some sophisticated appliances such as filters, cafetières, moka pots etc. were developed to brew coffee. When making Turkish coffee the extremely fine ground coffee is put in cold water and heated up slowly. This slow heating process allows coffee beans to release all the inherent flavors into the water including aromatic oils which other coffee brewing methods mostly lack. It is exactly 205°F (96°C) that the aromatic oils in the coffee grounds are released so Turkish coffee should be heated up till this point. However, it should not be boiled to avoid the bitter acids dissolving into the coffee as mentioned above.
Turkish coffee making method produces a coffee thick in texture and very rich in flavor. It feels filling due to its oily structure. Turkish coffee is not filtered after brewed so the coffee grounds compile at the bottom of the cup. Normally, these coffee sediments at the bottom, named “telve” in Turkish, are not expected to be consumed but some coffee lovers eat them after they finish the drink. Turkish coffee is very hot when it is first brewed so it is necessary to wait a while for it to get cold enough before drinking.
The Roots of Turkish Coffee
Coffee making is known to have been invented in Ethiopia in the 14th century and moved to Istanbul in the 16th century. There are two different stories about how coffee traveled to Ottoman lands. According to these stories, either two Syrian marchants brought coffee beans to Istanbul for business purposes, or Özdemir Pasha, then governor of Yemen, offered coffee beans to Suleiman the Magnificent, then ruler of the Ottoman Empire, as a gift.
Regardless of the stories, however, coffee started to be brewed in the Ottoman Palace before it was known by the public. Coffee beans were ground and slowly brewed in hot water in copper pots over ember in the kitchens of the Palace. And it is served with water and Turkish delight, and sometimes with sherbet, a sugary drink of the time.
Starting from the 17th century Turkish coffee became a prominent figure of official ceremonies and started to be consumed by the public. It also spread to Europe in this century via the coffee houses opened in major cities of Europe especially by the merchants from the different areas of the Ottoman Empire and the European ambassadors.
The first Turkish coffeehouse opened in Tahtakale in 1555, and that is how coffee was first introduced to the public. Later, Turkish coffee became a company for the people gathering in coffeehouses to discuss intellectual topics, read poems, play chess, or backgammon. In this way, Turkish coffee has become an integral part of social life and culture.
Turkish coffee was invented in the Ottoman palace, and the Turkish coffee culture and traditions started in Turkish coffeehouses in Istanbul. Afterwards, European ambassadors and merchants introduced Turkish coffee to Europe. The first coffeehouse in Europe was opened in Venice in 1645, followed by Malta, Paris and London.
Turkish Coffee Culture and Tradition
Turkish coffee is a traditional unifying element of social life. It is part of marriage ceremonies and a symbol of hospitality and friendship. People invite each other to have a cup of coffee and make intimate talks over drinking it. There is also a spiritual side of Turkish coffee and its grounds are used to foretell the future by some people with good intentions. Coffee has an important place in literature and songs. There are many proverbs and idioms in Turkish language reflecting the coffee culture in society. Below are two most well-known examples with semantic translations:
“A cup of coffee will never let the friendship down for 40 years.”
“The heart neither wants a coffee nor a coffeehouse; the heart wants an intimate conversation with a sincere friend, coffee is just a means to this end.”
Turkish coffee culture and tradition got listed in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013 with its unique brewing method and its important role in social life.
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Common Questions & Answers
Q: What is special about Turkish coffee?
A: Its rich flavor, thick texture and balanced caffeine level make Turkish coffee unique. It is enjoyed all around the world and has many health benefits.
Q: How does Turkish coffee taste?
A: Turkish coffee tastes bittersweet with a filling and thick texture. The coffee taste stays longer in the mouth thanks to its texture and thick foam.
Q: What is the difference between Turkish coffee and Greek coffee?
A: Turkish and Greek coffee are the same. Armenian coffee, Bosnian coffee, Serbian coffee and Crypriot coffee are the same as Turkish coffee, too. All are made by bringing extremely fine ground coffee and cold water to a temperature very close to boiling point in a coffee pot over a moderate heat. Sometimes there might be some minor differences in the brewing process such as putting sugar before or after the brew. And they also name the coffee pot according to their languages such as “cezve” or “ibrik” in Turkish and “briki” in Greek.
Q: Which grind size is best to make Turkish Coffee?
A: The coffee grind size to make Turkish coffee should be extremely fine, powder-like.
Q: How can I understand if the quality of Turkish coffee is good?
A: Fresh and quality Turkish coffee has a balanced rich taste and a very thick foam on top. It has a dominant coffee smell that suppresses other odors around.
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