How To Make Turkish Coffee: The True Turkish Delight!

Lately, I’ve been getting a ton of questions about how to make Turkish coffee. Well, maybe not a ton of questions, but I’m here to talk about it anyway!

How To Make Turkish Coffee

Lately, I’ve been getting a ton of questions about how to make Turkish coffee. Well, maybe not a ton of questions, but I’m here to talk about it anyway!

Outside of Europe, Turkish coffee is still a mystery to a lot of people. Try ordering it at most North American coffee shops and I suspect the only thing the barista will give you is a funny look.

Apart from ordering it in Mediterranean restaurants, the best way to regularly consume Turkish coffee is by making it yourself. Fortunately, I’m here to give you the no-nonsense rundown on how to make Turkish coffee!

What Is Turkish Coffee?

I can’t tell you how to make Turkish coffee without first defining it, right? I think it’s important to note that when people talk about Turkish coffee, they’re talking about how the coffee gets made. It’s less of a specific beverage and more of a technique for making coffee.

In spite of its Geographically specific name, this preparation method didn’t actually originate in Turkey. I’ll talk more about that in a minute.

Rather than relying on an espresso machine or drip coffee maker,traditional Turkish coffee requires a cezve or ibrik for preparation. A cezve is a small, long-handled metal pot that’s specifically designed for preparing Turkish coffee. Incidentally, ibrik is just the Arabic word for cezve.

Mixed with as much sugar and water as desired, you add finely ground coffee beans to your cezve and simmer for several minutes.

When I say finely ground, I mean it. As much as I talk about using a fine grind for espresso, it’s got nothing on what’s needed for Turkish coffee. The consistency you’re looking for is that of cocoa powder.

Now, if making Turkish coffee sounds a lot more like cooking than brewing, that’s because it is. For one, there aren’t a lot of shortcuts involved – at least if you’re making it manually. Just consider yourself lucky that you weren’t around when Turkish coffee made its debut  – you’d have to use hot sand to cook it!

However, the end result is definitely worth the extra effort. Once it becomes frothy and foamy in the cezve, you’ll pour your coffee  – including the grounds  – into cups. The traditional serving size for Turkish coffee is 2-2.5 ounces (60-75 milliliters).

What Does Turkish Coffee Taste Like?

In terms of flavor, Turkish coffee has a bold, bittersweet taste. I guess that’s why it’s consumed in smaller quantities. Not everyone downs the coffee powder at the bottom of the cup, but many people do. As you can imagine, it only adds to the powerful caffeine buzz.

It’s also not uncommon for this drink to be very sweet. That comes from the addition of generous amounts of sugar. However, one of the most recognizable aspects of Turkish coffee has to do with its foamy texture.

Not only does that aromatic foam tell you when your Turkish coffee has finished brewing, it’s also a good indicator of well-prepared Turkish coffee. Thin and watery are two adjectives you don’t want to pair with Turkish coffee.

While I’m on the subject of taste, I don’t want to overlook one of the most common additives to Turkish coffee  – cardamom. In fact, if you buy pre ground Turkish coffee, don’t be surprised to see cardamom seeds on the ingredients list. It’s not a requirement by any means, but many people appreciate the extra bit of spice in this bittersweet drink.

A Short History of Turkish Coffee

A beverage as old and distinguished as this deserves its own history lesson. Around 1540, the Turkish Governor of Yemen, Ozdemir Pasha, discovered a new beverage in his own region that he wanted to share with the Ottoman Sultan back home. Can you guess what it was? If you guessed coffee, you’re right on the money! 

Intrigued by this new caffeinated delight, the Sultan’s staff decided to reproduce the Yemeni method of preparation, using fine coffee grounds and an Ibrik. They prepared it over hot sand, which provided an even, low heat for the coffee to brew. Unsurprisingly, Turkish coffee was a big hit and it wasn’t long before it took the Ottoman Empire by storm.

Those who prepared Turkish coffee professionally were known as Kahveci Usta, whom you can think of as old school baristas.

Today, Turkish coffee is still a staple throughout the Middle East and the Balkans. You’ll find its influence throughout Turkish culture, even including some marriage traditions.

Tools for Making Turkish Coffee

Coffee Grinder for Making Turkish Coffee.

As I’ve mentioned, making a cup of Turkish coffee requires a few tools you won’t need with regular coffee. You may already have some of them hanging around the house, but others could require a little online shopping.

Of course, the tools can also vary depending on how you make your Turkish coffee, but I’ll get into those variations in a little bit.

Manual Tools

If you’re going to make Turkish coffee manually (i.e. without an automatic coffee maker), here’s what you’ll need in your arsenal:

  • A small pot to brew the coffee in, but preferably a cezve
  • A good coffee grinder 
  • Stirring spoons 
  • Two Turkish coffee cups for serving

Grinder

Since Turkish coffee requires such a fine grind, you can’t just drop your coffee beans into any ole grinder. As I already mentioned, the grind size for Turkish coffee resembles powder, and not all coffee grinders produce consistent results at the finer end of the spectrum.

Essentially, you’re going to need a high quality burr grinder. Check out my coffee grinder guide 2023 for inspiration – you’ll find several electric and manual grinders that are up to the task. Of course, if you want to go all out, something like the Crystalia Turkish Style Mill will get the job done beautifully and look the part too.

Pots

While you can substitute a small saucepan or pot for the cezve in a pinch, I’d recommend eventually upgrading to an actual Turkish coffee pot. Remember, authentic Turkish coffee is made in a metal cezve – much like this coffee pot. I also love this beautiful copper Turkish coffee pot, which comes with a wooden spoon.

Utensils

You’re in luck if you’ve already got long-handled metal stirring spoons in your cupboard. However, if you want to throw a Turkish coffee party, these coffee stirring spoons will enhance the vibe. You may only need to use one spoon at a time, but it never hurts to have extras on hand!

Automatic Tools

So, maybe you don’t have time to spend the entire day sweating over your stovetop to make Turkish coffee. In that case, you might want to stick with an automatic Turkish coffee maker. Granted, the automatic coffee makers aren’t as eye-catching as the traditional pots, but they still get the job done!

SAKI and BEKO are two manufacturers making waves in the world of Turkish coffee right now, and I’ll discuss how to make Turkish coffee with their machines below.

BEKO Turkish Coffee Maker

You could argue that Turkish coffee makers already lack a lot of bells and whistles, but the BEKO Turkish Coffee Maker really has no frills. It does one thing and one thing only: make Turkish coffee. And it does a great job at it!

At $134.99, it is a little pricier than the SAKI but not by a huge margin. Anyway, the BEKO also brews two cups in less than three minutes, so you’ll be cutting the manual brew time in half. 

SAKI Turkish Coffee Maker

For $90.00, the SAKI Turkish Coffee Maker brews up to four cups at once. It uses single button control, so this machine really does make the process automatic.

Unlike the previous machine, the SAKI Turkish Coffee Maker does have a few frills, so it’s up to you to decide which machine fits you best. What I appreciate about this SAKI coffee maker is that you won’t need to use a stirring spoon while it brews. The machine stops once it reaches the right amount of coffee (and foam).

The Best Beans for Turkish Coffee

Best Coffee Beans for Turkish Coffee.

Despite needing a fine grind, you won’t need a specific coffee varietal or blend to make Turkish coffee. As far as selecting the best coffee beans when it comes to how to make Turkish coffee? Well, I’ll defer to what most Turkish cafés, coffee houses and restaurants use  – medium or dark roast Arabica coffee beans.

Using Robusta coffee beans won’t cause the end of the world, although you’ll likely brew up a much more caffeinated beverage.

How to Serve Turkish Coffee

Now that we’ve covered how to make Turkish coffee, let’s get into how to serve it. After all, you want to know how to throw a legit Turkish coffee party, right?

Turkish Coffee Cups

While I’m on the subject, let’s not forget about the Turkish coffee cup. Since Turkish coffee is served in small quantities, you’ll want to serve it in a small cup. Traditionally, Turkish coffee is served in special demitasse cups, which look like espresso cups with tall sides.

Of course, you can use espresso cups if you need to, but I’d still recommend using a Turkish coffee cup set. That is, if you’re serious about doing it right!

Regardless of which type of cup you use, make sure its capacity is at least 2 ounces (60 milliliters) to accommodate the requisite serving size.

Turkish Coffee Pairings

Turkish coffee pairs extremely well with a sweet treat, like a piece of Turkish delight (lokum). If nothing else, a glass of cold water is a great palate cleanser for Turkish coffee’s bittersweet flavor profile.

Right after you pour your coffee, try sipping water as the coffee cools and the grounds settle at the bottom. Oh, and don’t forget to save some of that water for after your coffee’s gone down the hatch! It’ll definitely help tone down your caffeine buzz.

Turkish Coffee Recipe

Serving Delicious Turkish Coffee.

Need a quick recipe for manually making this concentrated elixir? I’ve got you covered. I’ll go over the ingredients and steps for how to make Turkish coffee below.

Ingredients

I’ve already gone over some of the equipment, but for a basic cup of Turkish coffee, here’s what you’ll need to keep in the kitchen:

  • Roughly 2 tablespoons of finely ground Arabica coffee beans (the consistency should resemble cocoa powder) 
  • Between 5 and 6 ounces (147 and 177 milliliters) of cold water
  • A dash of milk (optional) 
  • Up to 2 tablespoons of sugar (optional) 

As you’ll notice, milk and sugar are optional in this recipe. Some people may like to drink their Turkish coffee straight. But if you’ve never tried this beverage before, I’d recommend adding at least a little sugar. The sweetness of the sugar and the creaminess of the milk balances out some of the coffee’s bitterness.

Steps

So, you’ve successfully raided your pantry for the right ingredients. Now it’s time to create this concoction, so let’s get into it: 

  1. Once you’ve laid out your ingredients, add the water, sugar, and ground coffee to your cezve. Stir the mixture well until the coffee and sugar seem to dissolve.
  2. Put your cezve onto the stovetop over medium heat and let it come to a simmer. You may be tempted to stir the mixture, but you don’t want to do that. After that initial stir in step one, you won’t need the spoon anymore.
  3. Let your Turkish coffee cook. After a few minutes, you should see the coffee begin to foam up. That’s a good sign!
  4. Just before boiling, remove the cezve from the heat but don’t turn off the stove. Skim a little bit of the foam off the top of your coffee and add it to your serving cups.
  5. Put the cezve back onto medium heat, letting the liquid rise and foam up again.
  6. After it rises the second time, you can remove the cezve from the heat – for good this time – and slowly pour coffee into your serving cups. A slow pour is crucial to maintaining the foamy texture of your Turkish coffee.

Now, just plate some Turkish delight, pour a glass of water and you’ll be all set to enjoy this delicious beverage!

Variations

The method I’ve described above is just a basic recipe that you can customize as you please. Once you’ve figured out how you like your Turkish coffee, you’ll be able to create variations to suit your tastes.

One of the most common additions to this recipe is one I’ve already mentioned: ground cardamom. If you’d like to spice up this drink – literally – you can add a single cardamom pod or a dash of ground cardamom to the cezve before heating.

You can also adjust the sweetness of your Turkish coffee as well. If you’ve ever ordered coffee in a Turkish cafe or restaurant, you may recognize the following terms. Two tablespoons of sugar per cup will make your coffee sekerli (extra sweet) and half a tablespoon will result in coffee that’s az sekerli (less sweet).

The final variation I’ll mention involves milk. You can actually substitute the water in this recipe for an equal amount of milk, but make sure you avoid scalding the milk while you brew the coffee. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from using non dairy milk. I imagine Turkish coffee prepared with oat milk would be totally delicious.

Pro Tips

I wouldn’t tell you how to make Turkish coffee without throwing you a few pro tips! Here are a couple of ways you can take your Turkish coffee experience to the next level:

  • I mentioned this in the recipe, but it’s a common mistake that a lot of newbies make, so I’ll say it again. You should only stir your cezve once – before you put it on the heat. Trying to stir the coffee while it brews will only prevent that delicious foam from rising. 
  • The key is removing the cezve just as it begins to boil or a second before. Letting it boil will only add to the bitterness and you’ll create less foam. 
  • If you don’t have a cezve on hand, you can use a small saucepan instead. Just be sure it’s the smallest pot you have, preferably with a long handle. 
  • If you don’t have a good enough burr grinder, don’t bother trying. You’re better off buying pre ground Turkish coffee from your local Mediterranean market. This is the only time I’ll ever recommend buying pre ground coffee!

Now That You Know How to Make Turkish Coffee

You may not find it on every coffee shop menu or on the shelf of your local grocery store, but that doesn’t mean you can’t drink Turkish coffee. As we’ve seen, preparing this fascinating beverage is about as easy as it gets.

Now that you know how to make Turkish coffee, I fully expect you to run rampant and create your own recipes and variations. Go crazy! Throw a Turkish coffee party! I can’t wait to hear about it!

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning how to make Turkish coffee! What do you think, would a Turkish-Irish coffee be the best thing ever? Let me know in the comments! 

How to Make Turkish Coffee FAQ

Using a cezve is the best way to manually make Turkish coffee, but you can substitute your smallest pot or saucepan too. 

A single serving of Turkish coffee tends to contain around 50 to 60 milligrams of caffeine.

Although it’s served in small cups, Turkish coffee tastes unique and is made differently than espresso.

Greek coffee is remarkably similar in preparation to Turkish coffee. However, Greek coffee is always sweetened after preparation and spices are seldom used.

Manually making Turkish coffee can take close to ten minutes, while using an automatic coffee maker can take less than five.

Your coffee beans should be ground as finely as possible for Turkish coffee.

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