A Beginner's Guide to Turkish Coffee

A Beginner's Guide to Turkish Coffee

September 27th to 29th, Ankara, Turkey's capital city is holding a  3-day festival celebrating coffee and chocolate. Among the features of the festival is a talk on the long history of coffee in Turkey. And quite a history it is, one that starts in 11th-century Ethiopia, the birthplace of the earliest coffee bushes. The beans were eaten and were also boiled in water to create a medicinal drink.

Travelers carried the beans throughout Northern Africa and the East. According to  Turkish Coffee World, in the year 1555 C.E., the beans reached Istanbul (formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople) courtesy of the Ottoman Governor of Yemen, Özdemir Pasha. There, someone went one better on the traditional method by roasting the beans over a fire, grinding them finely, and then brewing them in cold water in a container set in the ashes of a charcoal fire.

Coffee became so highly prized among the nobility that the palace created the position of Chief Coffee Maker. In time, it came to be available to the masses; a person could buy the beans and take them home for roasting, grinding, and brewing. Istanbul was a cultural crossroads; by the 17th century, merchants traveling between Europe and Asia introduced Turkish coffee to Venice. There the first coffee house was established in 1645. Coffee was then introduced to the rest of Europe and America by the 1660s. It became the new "in" drink, especially among the thinkers and movers of the day.

Turkish coffee is known for its deep, thick, black appearance and powerful taste. Its name describes how the coffee is made - boiling in water instead of percolating (the process of filtering water through the ground beans). Today, a charcoal fire isn't required for enjoying Turkish coffee. An ibrik, a small (1-2 cup) pot with a long, straight handle is used. It can be purchased in metal or glass and used on modern cooking surfaces.

To make the coffee:

  • Stir ground coffee (and sugar, if desired) into cold water in the ibrik.
  • Heat until the coffee begins to boil, creating a foamy head.
  • Remove some of the foam and place in serving cup(s).
  • After the coffee has boiled, pour into serving cups.
  • Serve with a glass of water (take a sip between sips of coffee) and candy (chocolate or yes, a Turkish delight).

At  Zavida, we're proud to offer a variety of medium dark to dark roast coffees suitable for making Turkish coffee. Try our sustainably-grown Organica Rainforest AllianceEspresso Roma Coffee, or for, decaf fans, our clean, aromatic, and fire-roasted Decaf Organica Espresso.