Coffee is big in Turkey. It’s a drink that’s become ingrained into the daily culture of the country – kahvalti, the Turkish word for breakfast, literally translates to ‘before coffee’ while the word for brown, kahverengi, means ‘the colour of coffee’. An impressive feat for a drink that only arrived in the Ottoman Empire in the fifteenth century.
Turkish coffee doesn’t refer to a specific type of bean, but the way in which the drink is prepared. Rather than using the more common European method, the beans are ground down into a fine powder with a pestle and mortar or (more commonly) a special Turkish coffee grinder, which can break them down into tiny, flour-like particles. These are then added to a copper pot called a cezve (or ibrik) along with the preferred amount of sugar; sade (no sugar), az şekerli (half a teaspoon), orta şekerli (a teaspoon) or çok şekerli (one to two teaspoons). The sugar is added beforehand as once the coffee is poured, stirring it would disturb the grounds at the bottom of the cup.
While the actual brewing process for Turkish coffee sounds simple, there’s a real art to producing the perfect cup. Water is added to the cezve and put over a medium heat until it begins to simmer. The liquid then begins to foam, at which point it is briefly taken off the heat and stirred. This step is repeated several times until the liquid has become thick, almost syrupy, at which point the pot is left to rest for a few minutes until the grounds have settled at the bottom. The coffee is then carefully poured into small demitasse cups, much like espresso, leaving as many of the grounds as possible in the cezve. The resulting drink is much more intense than other types of coffee, with an almost chewy texture thanks to the way it’s made.