Turkish coffee is a well-known coffee type yet unfamiliar term for many people. Most of us have heard or even tried Turkish coffee; however, what do we know about it? This post will define what Turkish coffee is and why it is special and dive into more details to learn more about its culture.

What is Turkish Coffee?

Turkish coffee is an ancient method of brewing very fine coffee grounds on coal or ember with a unique copper Turkish coffee pot named “cezve pot” or “ibrik.” This unique method allows coffee beans to dissolve slowly to bring intense flavors while boiling the water. This brewing method creates the exceptional consistency and rich flavors of Turkish coffee. After brewing coffee beans, the Turkish coffee is not filtered, so the coffee continues to brew in the cup even after it is served. That is why there will be coffee grounds on the bottom of the Turkish coffee cups. Today, Turkish coffee has become part of a culture in Turkey with its foam, strong aroma, and serving.

In essence, what makes Turkish coffee special is that very finely grounded coffee beans are brewed in a Turkish coffee pot over the direct fire and are served with the coffee ground without filtering the coffee.

Turkish Coffee Beans

Coffee was first introduced to the Ottoman Empire in the late 15th century, and today it has become an important element of Turkish culture.

Traditionally, Yemen and Ethiopian coffee beans were used for Turkish coffee during the Ottoman period; today, Arabica coffee type of Brazilian Rio Minas coffee is widely preferred as coffee beans for Turkish coffee. In essence, the secret to achieving traditional Turkish coffee comes from choosing a medium or dark roasted %100 Arabica coffee beans. Those who like stronger coffee taste may prefer a mixture of Arabica and Robusta coffee blends for Turkish coffee beans.

Although Rio Minas coffee is a familiar taste for Turkish coffee lovers, using Ethiopian, Yemen, and Colombian coffee beans as Turkish coffee grounds increases the richness of the taste.

  • Ethiopian coffee bean: Ethiopian beans will provide a soft and balanced Turkish coffee experience. Ethiopian coffee beans consist of fruity and floral notes.
  • Yemen coffee bean: Yemen mocha coffee is a type of Arabica coffee, and it is ideal for obtaining an intense consistency and strong taste in Turkish coffee. It has chocolate and spicy notes.
  • Colombian coffee bean: Colombian coffee beans are medium-drinking coffee beans and offer an extremely soft, smooth, and easy-drinking Turkish coffee experience.

Turkish Coffee Grounds

After choosing the coffee beans according to your preference, the next most important step is to grind your coffee beans finely.

Turkish coffee differs from other coffees by being brewing the coffee beans directly in water and boiling them. The coffee beans used for Turkish coffee should be ground as finely as possible until they reach a powder-like consistency. Using a Turkish coffee grinder makes the process of achieving an extra-fine grind easier.

How to Find High-Quality Turkish Coffee

Fresh and high-quality Turkish coffee has a balanced taste, strong coffee smell, and foams on top. Here is a little test to determine the freshness of your Turkish coffee:

  • Fresh Turkish coffee has a dominant coffee smell and suppresses other odors around.

  • After brewing the Turkish coffee, there should be foam in the Turkish coffee pot and a foam layer on top of the Turkish coffee glass.

  • Lastly, there should be a strong and balanced coffee aroma while drinking Turkish coffee.

How to Store Turkish Coffee and Keep Fresh

In order to preserve the freshness of Turkish coffee, you should be careful about the factors such as heat, light, and humidity. Three factors we mentioned causes Turkish coffee to go bad quickly and oxidize fatty acids in Turkish coffee beans results in Turkish coffee with no foam and a bitter taste that is not tolerable.

We have a few suggestions to keep your Turkish coffee fresh:

  1. Buying Turkish coffee in small quantities or packages to consume in a short time.

  2. Storing the coffee beans without grinding and grinding the Turkish coffee beans before using them. The reason for this is;

    • Turkish coffee beans go bad in 2-4 weeks,
    • Roasted Turkish coffee goes bad in 2 weeks,
    • Grounded Turkish coffee goes bad within 5-10 minutes.

Therefore, it is best to grind the Turkish coffee beans just before drinking them. However, buying ground coffee in small quantities and consuming it quickly helps keep your Turkish coffee fresh!

How to Store

We recommend storing your Turkish coffee in a tightly closed or airtight coffee storage container such as a glass jar in a cool and dark place.

  • Try not to store it in a plastic Turkish coffee packet and immediately transfer your Turkish coffee blend into a storage container.
  • Make sure that the Turkish coffee beans are not in contact with the air and moisture.
  • One of the common mistakes is putting metal or plastic Turkish coffee measuring spoons in the coffee storage container where you store the Turkish coffee grounds. These substances will also cause the coffee to lose its freshness.

Turkish Coffee Types

Blending traditional Turkish coffee with different flavors and spices has enriched the Turkish coffee culture. The most well-known types of Turkish coffee are dibek coffee, “mırra” coffee, menengic coffee, and mastic coffee.

  • Dibek Coffee: Dibek Coffee is known as Ottoman Empire Coffee or Ottoman Dibek Coffee. The name “dibek” comes from how coffee beans are grounded while preserving the oil inside. The consistency of dibek coffee is denser and has a lighter color than traditional Turkish coffee. In addition, dibek coffee’s spices and flavors give a sweeter taste and more foam.

As we mentioned, dibek coffee has various flavors and spices such as cardamom, zahter, salep, carob, cream, chocolate, terebinth, and mastic gum. For people looking for more flavorful versions of dibek coffee, there are varieties like dibek Turkish coffee with mastic gum, Dibek Turkish coffee with cardamom, and dibek Turkish coffee with pistachio.

  • Menengic (“Menengiç”) Coffee: Menengic coffee comes from the fruits of the wild pistachio tree called the Menengic tree. Menengic coffee distinguishes from Turkish coffee by using the seeds of menengic fruit instead of coffee beans. This makes menengic coffee a decaf Turkish coffee alternative. You can brew these all-natural, caffeine-free fruit seeds with water or milk without giving up on the taste of coffee.
  • Turkish coffee with milk: People who find traditional Turkish coffee strong may prefer Turkish coffee with milk. The recipe is simple; using milk instead of water while brewing will give a smoother taste to Turkish coffee.
  • Flavored Turkish coffee: Adding different flavors to Turkish coffee can increase the richness of the classic Turkish coffee aroma. The most preferred of these flavors is Turkish coffee with mastic gum. Many well-known Turkish coffee brands offer mastic gum-flavored Turkish coffee, or you can make it at home by adding mastic gum while brewing Turkish coffee. In addition, Turkish coffees with hazelnut flavor, caramel flavor, vanilla, and cardamom are also popular.
  • “Mirra” coffee: Mirra coffee is the most intense and strong-flavored among Turkish coffee types. Mirra coffee is made from brewing Turkish coffee grounds over and over again. Since Mirra coffee has an intense and bitter aroma, it is customary to put a very small amount in a handleless cup.

Difference between Turkish coffee and other coffees

How does Turkish coffee differ from other coffee types such as regular coffee, espresso, filter coffee, Arabic coffee, Greek coffee, Cuban coffee, and many more?

The roasting, grinding, and brewing of Turkish coffee grounds and Turkish coffee serving makes Turkish coffee different from other coffees. In addition, we listed some other reasons what makes Turkish coffee special;

  • Due to Turkish coffee’s foam, the strong taste of the coffee stays in the mouth for a long time.
  • Turkish coffee is served unfiltered and thus continues to brew in Turkish coffee mugs. This is the reason for the “mud” layer on the bottom of the Turkish coffee cups.
  • While brewing Turkish coffee, ground coffee beans are boiled and cooked; thus, an intense and unique taste of Turkish coffee comes out.
  • Turkish coffee is served in thin-walled small Turkish coffee cups to keep coffee stays warm for longer.
  • Compared to other coffee types, Turkish coffee contains less caffeine per serving.
  • Due to the small serving size and special brewing method, Turkish coffee can be consumed several times a day. In addition, Turkish coffee has many benefits, and it is healthy to consume.

Turkish Coffee Culture

History of Turkish Coffee

There are two different stories about how Turkish coffee was invented and how coffee beans came to Anatolian lands. According to the first story, In the 16th century, two Syrian merchants brought coffee beans to Istanbul for business purposes.

The second story is Ozdemir Pasha, who was the Governor of Yemen in the 16th-century, brought the Yemen coffee beans to Suleiman the Magnificent as a gift. In the kitchens of Ottoman Palace, coffee beans were brewed in boiling water with copper pots. That is how the first Turkish coffee was invented with this new method of Turkish coffee brewing. As an Ottoman palace tradition, Turkish coffee is served with Turkish delight, water, or sherbet.

Turkish Coffeehouse

The first Turkish coffeehouse opened in Tahtakale in 1555, and that is how coffee was first introduced to the public. Later, Turkish coffee became the reason people got together in Turkish coffeehouses to discuss intellectual topics, read poems, play chess, or backgammon. Thus, Turkish coffee has become a part of social life and culture. This situation even affected the proverbs and idioms in the Turkish language. The most well-known of these are:

  • “A cup of Turkish coffee remembered for 40 years.”
  • “The heart does not want coffee nor a coffeehouse; the heart wants a friend, coffee is an excuse.”

Turkish coffee was invented in the Ottoman palace, and Turkish coffee culture started in Turkish coffeehouses. Afterward, European ambassadors were introduced coffee to Venice in 1615, and coffee became popular in Europe. The first coffeehouse was opened in Venice in 1645, later in Paris and London.

UNESCO

As Turkish coffee has become a popular beverage, Turkish coffee has been flavored with different Turkish coffee flavors and Turkish coffee spices.

Although the coffee plant is not grown in Turkey, the Turks invented Turkish coffee with the unique Turkish coffee brewing method and formed the Turkish coffee culture. In fact, in 2013, this Turkish coffee culture and tradition got listed in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Turkish Coffee Culture and Traditions

Turkish coffee has created a social culture and tradition as a unifying element of social life. Turkish coffee is a part of marriage ceremonies and a symbol of hospitality and friendship. On top of the social importance of Turkish coffee, there is a spiritual side of Turkish coffee. It is a common belief that coffee grounds left at the bottom of Turkish coffee cups foretell the future after drinking the coffee. As a part of the ritual, the bottom of the Turkish coffee cup should be interpreted by a knowledgeable person with good intentions. All of the traditions and rituals prove how important Turkish coffee is in social life and culture.