Turkish Coffee

April 22nd, 2005

You might have heard of the “Turkish coffee”; it is quite different than the drip coffee that you usually get in the nowadays coffee shops. It is not the coffee beans that are Turkish, rather, it is the way to prepare it. They are roasted and then finely ground before preparing. Throughout Middle East and eastern Europe, it is prepared more of less the same way.

It is a part of the Turkish culture, definitely! One of the proverbs say “Bir kahvenin kirk yil hatiri vardir” which can roughly be translated into “A cup of coffee obligates one to forty years of friendship.”

Before a couple gets married, groom to be’s parents pay a visit to the girl’s parents and ask for their permission for this marriage. In this visit, they are expected to be served Turkish coffee by the bride to be. Legend says that if the girl puts salt in the coffee instead of sugar, it is a quite good hint that she is not willing to go with this marriage. I, personally, have never heard that system being used to convey the message.

Some people like it sweet, some prefer bitter. It is a matter of taste and you specify how you’d like it before it is prepared. The commonly used words are:

  • sade = no sugar

  • orta = medium amount of sugar

  • ÅŸekerli (shekerli) = a lot of sugar

Assuming you are not familiar with how it is prepared, I will start introducing the gadgets for this process:

Coffee Mill: This is a traditional coffee mill that sometimes can also be used as a spice mill as well. The top part is where you put the coffee, and the bottom part is where the grounds fall as you turn the handle. Very very labour intense project but at the end, you really deserve this coffee!

Coffee Pot (cezve): A little pot where the coffee is “cooked.” Has a spout to help pour it easily. This one is copper, looks like the authentic ones. These days you can also find them made in stainless steel and enamel.

Coffee Cup (fincan): Similar to espresso cups, these are the tiny cups coffee is served in. Usually it has the same volume as the 1/4 American measure cup. Having the saucer is important; we’ll soon see the reason why.

Ok, that’s it! Now, you may ask “do I need all these to make Turkish coffee”? No, certainly not. You can buy ground Turkish coffee (look for it in Middle Eastern stores or online Turkish stores) and use one of your small pots to make it in. Any old cup would also be used to drink from, too. Having said that, I’d suggest not to make a full mug worth of Turkish coffee—it might be quite heavy.

Here is how to make it:

From now on, “a cup” will be referred to the “coffee cup” mentioned above, which is usually about 1/4 American measure cup

  1. Measure one cup of water and pour it into the pot
  2. Measure 1 1/2 – 2tsp Turkish coffee in to the pot

  3. Add sugar to taste (for starters, I’d suggest 1 tsp or more)

  4. While heating the pot in a medium low heat, stir it well

  5. When it starts to foam at the top, pour some of the froth over to the cup, put the pot back to burner. Be careful, it might boil over

  6. As the coffee raises again, pour into the cup some more and put the pot back to the burner. Do this one or two more times, until all the coffee is poured into the cup

  7. You are done!

These will make a cup of coffee, just multiply it when you need to serve more

Probably it is still hot; be careful, do not burn yourself.

While drinking, you might notice the taste of the coffee grounds in your month. All those grounds that you put in to cook are now in that cup! So, if you are into it, I’d suggest stirring it up every now and then while drinking to enjoy every piece. But, hardly anybody drinks the whole thing. Usually, you sip every now and then but finish it before it gets cold. At the end, you’d see a “mud” of grounds at the bottom of your cup. Now that’s an important part if you believe in fortune and you know someone that can read fortune by reading your coffee grounds.

When you are done with your cofee (grounds at the bottom and some liquid is still there) you can now use the saucer to close the top of your cup and make sure to hold on to the bottom of the cup and the saucer (which is now on top of the cup) and swirl it around couple of times while making a wish, asking a question etc—whatever the fortune teller is telling you to do. Leave the cup on the table, this time saucer down, hence the cup upside down.

Until the bottom of the cup (which is on top now) is cooled down, you do not touch the cup. And later you ask someone to read your coffee grounds to tell your fortune!

I wish I had that much imagination to make up stories by looking at the shapes grounds have made. I am not gifted that way…


7 Responses to “Turkish Coffee”

  1. Teddie Says:

    I have not had Turkish coffee since I moved from New York. There I had some very dear Turkish friends and one of them use to read our grounds after we had enjoyed a wonderful meal and had our Turkish coffee. What wonderful memories I have of those gatherings! Teddie

  2. fethiye Says:

    Dear Teddie, that sounds great! I have not had a chance to find any friend here that can read mine ;( I only get to have my grounds read when I am in Turkey…

  3. lunarossa Says:

    We put sugar and coffee in “Dzezva” (cezve) when the water is boiling. In other barts in the Balkan one NEVER puts sugar in the water; sugar cubes are served separatly and you dunk it in your coffee, have a nibble and slurp the coffee.

  4. fethiye Says:

    lunarossa, I am glad you mentioned that way of serving coffee; in some parts of Turkey (especially in east) they enjoy the coffee (and tea) along with a chunk of sugar as well.

  5. Matt Says:

    This post has great valuable information about Turkish Coffee. I’d like to thank the owner of this site. I live in Chicago, and always order Turkish Coffee online from a Turkish store in NY.
    They also have some quality Turkish Coffee Grinders and Coffee Pots Ibriks.
    I love Turkish Coffee and would recommend it to every coffee lover in the world.

  6. Chayo Says:

    I am interested in knowing if there is a place to go have turkish coffee and have your cup read? Please let me know. My sister and I can read cups a bit and would like to meet others. I am in Manhattan, NY.


  7. khunying Says:

    Hi there!

    I really like Turkish coffee recipe and the turkish culture that you told. Really enjoy reading it! I was going to post your recipe on the gretchenspantry.com but I am not so sure about the copyright that you have. Anyway, maybe you can add your blog to our blog directory sometime! It’s totally free, it only takes a few seconds, and we love to have people list great blogs. If you have any trouble with it, leave me a comment. :) bye for now.

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