Turkish Coffee


Turkish coffee

This is a post on making Turkish coffee. It’s a post on one of my favorite pieces of kitchen equipment, an ibrik.

It is also, rather improbably, a post on attaining what productivity blogger Leo Babauta would call a “monk mind”—CoffeeKrave style.

Turkish coffee is not instant gratification. It’s not particularly fast or particularly convenient. It doesn’t come in a pod, and you can’t set an auto-timer. It requires focus. If you get distracted, you get bad coffee (at best), a total mess on the stovetop (nearly guaranteed) and a shot at epic fail, kitchen edition. (Is that the smoke alarm?)

Turkish coffee is about the ritual. It’s about making space for ceremony in your everyday life. To mix a few cultural metaphors here, it’s a Zen thing.


Turkish Coffee and the Art of Single Tasking

Multitasking is the art of distracting yourself from two things you’d rather not be doing by doing them simultaneously.

Merlin Mann

Are you ready to single task?

Gather your equipment, specifically: an ibrik, coffee (Turkish grind), water, sugar, a spoon and a heat source (gas stove, electric stove, an open campfire).

An ibrik is a traditional Turkish coffee pot. (It is also called a cezve, and variations on either name, depending on your region.) It’s typically copper, but you can find stainless steel versions. The distinguishing feature is the long handle.

We have friends who claim you can use a long handled foaming pitcher if you don’t have an ibrik, but we can’t recommend that. Foaming pitchers have the same wide base, but they don’t narrow at the top. This is about having the right tool for the right job.

Your coffee should, quite naturally, be Turkish grind. This means very, very fine—finer than espresso. The best way to pulverize your coffee at home is a burr grinder, or you can ask the folks at your friendly local whole bean purveyor for Turkish grind.


Step By Step

With equipment and ingredients in place, our seven steps to Turkish coffee bliss are as follows:

Add the correct amount of water for the size of your pot. With an ibrik, the coffee will foam and subside while you are making it. If you overfill with water at the beginning, the coffee will overflow. Your ibrik probably came with a set of instructions that tell you how much water to add. If not, using our recommended ratios below, calculate the amount that seems right (allowing for that essential room) and be willing to experiment to perfect your technique over time.

Heat the water over a low to medium (closer to the low side) flame for two minutes. Think of this as two minutes of meditation time, while your attention is totally focused on the water.

Add the coffee to the ibrik. Start with a ratio of two tablespoons coffee to 4 ounces of water. Turkish coffee is meant to be crazy strong, and you can adjust to taste. At CoffeeKrave, we are closer to the 1 tablespoon coffee : 1 ounce water ratio.

You can add sugar and /or cardamom if you wish—they are traditional.

Gently stir. The objective here is to wet the things that are dry.

Safety note: now that the coffee is added, please keep your focus on the pot. A boil-over is unpleasant all the way around, but especially when trying to clean it up.

Your coffee will begin to foam and rise around the two minute mark. The exact time will vary with the temperature setting. This is another place to perfect your technique over time—finding that perfect medium/low mark on your dial where the first foaming hits at two minutes.

Please don’t think of foaming as boiling—it’s more controlled and subtle. Watch the pot, and enjoy the coffee slowly rising towards the top. When it nears the rim, remove the pot from the heat and wait while the grounds subside (30 seconds or so).

Turn the burner down a little lower, return the pot to heat, remove again when the grounds near the top. Wait for 30 seconds.

Turn the burner down a little lower yet again, return the pot to heat, remove for the third (and last) time when the grounds near the top.

Turn the burner off. Wait for a minute. Pour slowly—the grounds are in the bottom of the pot, and a slow pour will minimize disturbing them. We recommend an espresso cup, or something of similar size.

Turkish coffee


From time to time, vintage ibriks are available on Etsy. For a new one, try Sweet Marias.

Note: the higher the flame (especially for gas stoves) the more likely it is your pot will discolor. Depending on the material your pot is made from, it will darken with repeated use. Embrace the wabi sabi in this process.

Did you see your fortune in the bottom of your cup? Let us know in the comments section below.


Main photo: sotkouv

Content photo: ario


Robyn is a freelance writer, editor and a serious foodie. A native of Seattle, she has found a new home in Northern California where she splits her time about equally between hiking in the redwoods and typing in local coffee shops. In addition to writing for CoffeeKrave, Robyn is currently working on a project to produce a short animated documentary—"Clipped and Tucked"—about her adventures in cooking recipes from antique cookbooks.

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