pot of traditional turkish coffee

What is Traditional Turkish Coffee?

Coffee is a staple in millions of people’s daily routines, but have you ever tried Turkish coffee?

If not, you're certainly not alone. Despite its rich history, this style of coffee is still relatively unknown to many coffee drinkers.

However, Turkish coffee is gaining popularity in recent years, and it's not hard to see why.

In this blog post, we'll discover what is traditional Turkish Coffee, exploring its origins, how to make it, and what sets it apart from other coffee styles.

Whether you're looking for something new to try or researching that coffee trend you just heard about, Turkish coffee is definitely an interesting topic.

A Quick History of Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee has a long and fascinating history that dates back centuries (no surprise for that area of the world).

It’s said that coffee drinking in Turkey can be traced back to the mid-1500s, when coffee was brought to Istanbul by traders of the Syrian empire.

“Turkish” coffee likely started out as “Arabian Coffee” (another term used for the same brew method used in other parts of the world) that came out of modern-day Yemen.

This style of brewing spread beyond the Ottoman Empire to other parts of Europe and the Middle East during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Different cultures may brew Turkish/Arabian coffee very similarly to one another, but they add unique blends of spices and sweeteners to the drink that may make a cup from one place very different to a cup from a different locale.

What Makes Turkish Coffee Standout?

It’s pretty likely that you or “coffee-lovers” in your sphere have never tried Turkish coffee.

It’s such a unique take that it is worth the research and even a try.

Here are a few of the main attributes that make it so unique:

Finely ground beans: Turkish coffee is made from coffee beans that are ground to an extremely fine powder. This fine grind allows for a slow extraction of the coffee's oils, resulting in a rich and full-bodied flavor. It’s ground even finer than espresso.

Slow brewing process: Turkish coffee is brewed slowly over low heat, allowing the flavors and aromas of the coffee to fully develop. The brewing process can take from 7 to 10 minutes, which is longer than most other hot brewing methods (cold brew takes hours).

No filtration: Unlike other brewing methods, Turkish coffee is un-filtered. This is most like French Press except there is no mesh filter and the grounds are much finer (like a powder).

Foam on top: One of the most distinctive features of Turkish coffee is the foam that forms on top of the brew. This foam called the καϊμάκι or “kaimaki" which means foam or crest, is created by whisking the coffee and sugar together during the brewing process (between the first and second boils).

Spiced: Turkish coffee is often flavoured with spices such as cardamom, which gives it a distinctive and complex flavor profile.

The Brewing Process for Turkish Coffee

Brewing Turkish coffee is very different from all the mainstream ways of brewing coffee.

It’ll even take some new equipment and grinding processes to accomplish.

But, these are relatively cheap things to come by and shouldn’t stop you if you are interested in brewing this delicious coffee.
  1. Turkish coffee requires a very fine grind, similar to powdered sugar. Use a Turkish coffee grinder, or ask your local coffee shop to grind the beans for you. If you're using a grinder at home, make sure to use a quality Burr grinder and adjust it to the finest setting.

  2. For each cup of coffee, you'll need one heaping tablespoon of coffee and 3 ounces of water. Use a traditional Cezve (a small copper or brass pot with a long handle), but a small saucepan or pot could work.

  3. Bring your water (don’t add anything to it just yet) to a boil. This is called a first boil and is important for accurately brewing Turkish coffee.

  4. If you like your coffee sweet or flavored, add a pinch of sugar and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, or cloves to the Cezve with the measured coffee. Allow the sugar to dissolve in the warm water. Don’t let the coffee or spice clump at the top by gently stirring or whisking. With freshly ground coffee, you should see “foam” appear on top, this is CO2 being released and means that your coffee is almost ready for the brewing process.

  5. Place the Cezve back on medium to high heat and slowly bring the water to its second boil. Do not let the coffee boil over/out of the Cezve.

  6. When the coffee is done (7-10 minutes), let it settle for a few moments before serving. Pour it into your serving cups/mugs while trying not to transfer the remaining coffee grounds. Enjoy the coffee slowly, savoring the flavors and texture of the brew. Add additional sweeteners/milk to taste.

Turkish Coffee FAQ

Is Turkish Coffee Stronger than Regular Coffee?

Yes, Turkish coffee is stronger than regular coffee due to its higher caffeine content and the fact that it is brewed using finely ground beans with no filtration and a longer brewing process.

Do you Drink the Sludge in Turkish Coffee?

Sludge or the remaining coffee grounds are not meant or expected to be consumed when enjoying Turkish coffee. You can if you want, but it isn’t required.

What spices go into Turkish coffee?

The most common spice used in Turkish coffee is cardamom. Other spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, may also be used but are less common. The use of spices is optional and based on personal preference.

What Type of Roast is Best for Turkish Coffee?

Darker roasts are typically used for Turkish coffee, as they provide a bolder and more intense flavor. However, some medium roasts with complex flavor profiles can also work well. Ultimately, it is up to personal preference and what coffee you find that you enjoy the most.

About the Author
Founder of Windansea Coffee sitting at a beach smiling wearing a beanie
This article was written by Jordan O'Hara, Founder of Windansea Coffee. 
You can learn more about him here.