Culture Through Coffee

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Turkish coffee, culture, coffee, turkey More often than not, I stare at the blank screen waiting for inspirations. I daydream of a Roman holiday or strolling the streets of Old Istanbul, searching for a cafe to sip on Turkish coffee. The other morning, after a painful night sleep of only getting a few hours of zzz's, I stumbled downstairs and realized my daydream not that far. An ibrik sitting on the kitchen counter; Turkish coffee beans finely ground.

There is a certain je ne sais quoi to Turkish coffee. I first fell in love with the taste of it in 2010 while in Istanbul. After arriving back into the States, I knew I needed more and I needed to know how to make it. Fortunately, my mother-in-law, born and raised in Istanbul, taught me how to make it that November and its social importance. Just like food, coffee is truly important culturally in Turkey; the company and setting are the main event - coffee is just an excuse.

Turkish coffee, famed for the way it is made, is not made from unusual ingredients — Arabica beans and fresh water and sugar are typical — it is the age-old brewing method that give it its unique, strong flavor. The ground coffee and fresh water are boiled on low heat in a copper pot till a light foam develops; the finished product is served in cups along with the grounds, which sink to the bottom of the cup and are frequently read by fortune tellers to determine the fate of the drinker.

What You'll Need

  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 tablespoon of extra finely ground coffee (very fine powder consistency; I used Mehmet Efendi Turkish Coffee) which can be found online or Mediterranean/Middle Eastern Markets
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom, or 1 cardamom pod
  • sugar (optional)

What You'll Need To Know 1. Pour in cold water in the ibrik. If you do not have an ibrik, a small saucepan will work. You should use one cup of cold water for each cup you are making and then add an extra half cup “for the pot”. Add a teaspoonful of the ground Turkish coffee and cardamom per cup in the water while the water is cold and stir. The amount of coffee may be varied to taste, but do not forget, there will be a thick layer of coffee grounds left at the bottom of your cup for properly made Turkish coffee. Do not fill the pot too much. If you need to add sugar, this is the time to do it.

Turkish coffee, culture, coffee, turkey

2. Heat the pot as slowly as you can on low heat. The slower the heat the better it is. Make sure you watch it, to prevent overflowing when the coffee boils.

Turkish coffee, culture, coffee, turkey

3. When the water boils pour some--not all--of the coffee equally between the cups, filling each cup about a quarter to a third of the way. This will make sure that everybody gets a fair share of the foam forming on top of the pot, without which coffee loses much of its taste. Continue heating until coffee boils again, which will be extremely short now that it has already boiled. Then distribute the rest of the coffee between the cups.

Turkish coffee, culture, coffee, turkey

Since there is no filtering of coffee at any time during this process, you should wait for a few minutes before drinking your delicious Turkish coffee while the coffee grounds settle at the bottom of the cup.

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Have your tired Turkish coffee? Let’s hear it in the comments.

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