Lots of people have heard of Turkish coffee, but have you ever tried it? Unlike most coffee, it’s served unfiltered, with the grounds in the cup.
That makes it something of an acquired taste, but it’s one that’s loved by people the world over. We think there’s no better way to get a taste of another culture than through their coffee.
Turkey has at least 500 years of coffee-making history, so you could almost say it’s the national drink.
You agree that Turkish coffee sounds good, but Istanbul seems like a long way to go.
Don’t despair! We’re here to help.
Our tutorial will show you how to make Turkish coffee in eleven easy steps.
What’s more, there’s some bonus information at the end we think may surprise you…
Read on, and prepare to enjoy the unique taste of Turkish coffee!
What you will need to follow this tutorial
Turkish coffee, 1 heaped tablespoon per cup
Don’t be misled by the description – “Turkish” here refers to the grind rather than the coffee bean.
Turkish coffee is very finely ground and even a fast electric grinder won’t give you the results you need.
That leaves you with three options…
You can buy a specialist Turkish grinder.
These can be expensive though, so we wouldn’t recommend it until you’re sure you love Turkish coffee.
Another option is to grind your beans at a local grocery store.
Almost all grinders in US grocery stores have a Turkish coffee setting.
The simplest approach is to buy pre-ground Turkish coffee.
Most Middle-Eastern or Mediterranean supermarket will sell it, and there are specialist online retailers too.
If you’re brave enough to grind your own beans, it doesn’t matter which variety you choose. Just make sure you buy a medium roast. That’s because the coffee will effectively be roasted a second time as it cooks. Anything darker and you’ll find that the final flavor is too bitter.
Cold filtered water
1 to 4 teaspoons of sugar per cup, according to taste (optional)
Turkish coffee can be made with or without sugar.
If you or your guests have a sweet tooth, you can add between 1 and 4 teaspoons per cup.
1/8 teaspoon of cardamom or 1 cardamom pod per cup (optional)
Turkish coffee pot or small saucepan
A Turkish coffee pot – also known as a cevze or ibrik – is a wide-bottomed pot, often made of copper.
If you don’t have one, you can use a small saucepan instead.
How To Make Turkish Coffee: Step By Step Instructions
Step 1: Measure out the amount of filtered water you need
Not surprisingly, the amount of water depends on how many cups of coffee you’re making.
A good rule of thumb is to use one and a half cups of water per final cup of coffee.
But note – you should use the demitasse cups, not a standard cup measure, as your measuring guide.
Take a look at this Youtube video from master roaster Van Houtte to see how it’s done.
Protect the flavor of your coffee from the very beginning by using filtered water rather than water straight from the tap. Tap water frequently carries flavors such as chlorine which is removed when it’s filtered. If there’s anything at all about the taste of your tap water that you don’t like, don’t use it unfiltered.
Step 2: Place the water on the stove
Pour the correct amount of cold, filtered water into your Turkish coffee pot or a small saucepan.
Now place the pot on top of the stove on a medium-high heat.
At this stage, you just want the water to warm up.
Don’t be tempted to hurry things along by turning up the heat! Boiling the water too early will impair the flavor.
Step 3 (optional): If you’re using sugar and/or cardamom, mix it with the ground coffee
If you’ve decided that you want a sweeter flavor, mix the sugar together with the ground coffee in a bowl.
You’ll want between 1 and 4 teaspoons of sugar per person, depending on taste.
If different people want different amounts of sugar, you’re unfortunately in for a lot of brewing.
Boiling the sugar at the same time as the coffee is an important part of getting the authentic Turkish coffee flavor.
Adding the sugar at the end simply won’t taste the same!
If you want a spicier taste, this is also the time to add your cardamom to the mix.
You won’t need much – just 1/8 of a teaspoon or a single cardamom pod per person.
Step 4: Add the coffee to the water
Now you’re ready to add the coffee (or your mixture of coffee, sugar, and cardamom) to the warm water in the coffee pot.
At first, the coffee grounds will float on the surface of the water.
Don’t stir them in yet!
Keep watching the pot until the water is hot enough for the coffee to sink to the bottom and for any sugar to start to dissolve.
This requires a little patience, but the wait will be worth it for the extra flavor.
When the coffee grounds start to sink, stir the coffee several times and turn down the heat.
Step 5: Keep stirring until a dark foam forms on the surface
You’ll need to keep stirring as the coffee continues to cook.
What you want to see is a dark ring of foam forming on the surface of the liquid.
Watch out for it carefully as it plays an important part in the presentation and texture of the coffee.
When you see the ring of foam, turn down the heat again.
Alternatively, you can take the pot off the heat altogether for a while.
At this stage, the bubbles should be very small in size.
You can help the foam to form by moving your spoon vigorously from side to side in the coffee.
Step 6: Continue to cook the coffee at a low temperature
At this point, you should be watching your coffee like a hawk!
Although many recipes refer to “boiling” it, authentic Turkish coffee is never boiled.
Your aim is to let a thick froth build up. For that to happen, you need to keep the coffee at around 158 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the water begins to boil, the foam will simply evaporate.
Avoid that happening by taking the coffee off the stovetop for a moment if it starts to get too hot.
Step 7: Wait until the foam has risen and sank back again twice, then remove the pot from the heat
Keep the pot below boiling point for as long as possible to maximize that precious foam.
You can give it a gentle stir now and again while this is happening.
Eventually, the foam will heat up to the point where it rises towards the top of the pot.
At this stage, remove the pot from the heat and let the foam sink back again.
Now return the pot to the heat. The foam will rise towards the top of the pot for the second time.
When that happens, you’re ready to remove the pot from the stovetop.
You can vary this approach by taking the pot off the heat after the first time the foam has risen. Some instructions will tell you to go through the rising and sinking process three or even four times. This really isn’t necessary and can in fact degrade the final flavor.
Step 8: Spoon the foam into the cups and pour the coffee on top
After all that work to get a nice, thick foam, you need to be careful not to lose it at this stage!
If you’ve made only enough for a single cup, just pour the coffee from the pot straight into the cup.
Do it quickly, though, to keep the foam at the bottom.
If you’re serving more than one person, it will be easier to use a teaspoon to transfer the froth.
Spoon it out carefully and place it at the bottom of each demitasse cup.
Whatever you do, do not stir the coffee after you’ve poured it into the cups!
Doing this will mean certain death for your foam.
Step 9: Now wait for the grounds to sink
As an unfiltered coffee, the last thing you want is a mouthful of grounds when you take a sip!
To avoid this unpleasant outcome, wait for half a minute or so for the grounds to settle before serving.
This is also the reason that Turkish coffee is ground to such a fine consistency.
You can speed up the process of the grounds settling by adding a tablespoon of cold water to the coffee pot. Make sure you only do this after you’ve removed the foam, or you’ll be in danger of breaking it up.
Step 10: Serve your coffee in authentic Turkish style
Serve your coffee alongside some small sweets, like Turkish delight or pastries, and a glass of cold water. (You drink the cold water first to cleanse your palate.)
If you’ve used cardamom pods, try placing one in each saucer for an artistic effect.
And if you really want an authentic experience, follow Turkish tradition and serve the eldest person in the room first.
This is a mark of respect in Turkey, and doing anything else would be considered very rude.
Remember: Turkish coffee is strong, so savor it sip by sip.
For the same reason, it is customary to drink only one cup.
Step 11: Use your coffee grounds to tell your fortune
Okay, this is isn’t strictly about making coffee – but this was one custom we just had to include!
When you’ve drained your cup, do as Turkish people often do and use the grounds to tell your fortune.
If you’re interested in learning more about this mysterious art, there’s a wealth of material available online.
The basic process, though, is simple.
Leave a drop of coffee in the bottom of your cup, swirl it around, make a wish, then tip the cup upside down onto your saucer.
Don’t try and read your own cup, but pass it to someone else.
They will interpret both the symbols and the overall impression of the reading.
The best result is for the cup and saucer to stick tight together.
This is known as a “prophet’s cup” and means that all your dreams will come true!
Ready to try some Turkish coffee?
We hope you’ve enjoyed our step-by-step guide to making Turkish coffee.
As the home of the first ever coffee shop, Turkey’s social scene has revolved around coffee for centuries.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that the way Turkish coffee is prepared and served reflects the culture of this fascinating country.
The bold, spicy flavors, the custom that elders are served first, even the way coffee grounds are used to foretell the future – all these things shine a light on a culture that is at once both vibrant and mystical.
We hope the next time you sip a cup of Turkish coffee, you’ll feel a connection to these ancient traditions.
And of course, we hope the unique flavor makes it a regular addition to your home coffee menu!
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe (or even tried reading your coffee grounds!)
Please comment and share it. We’d love to hear what you think.
My name is Kathy Gallo, Editor of Ag Ferrari, a Coffee buff. The guide you find here is designed exactly for you, and it is our hope that you find it not only interesting but also actionable.