Making Turkish Coffee with a Turkish Barista Champion

Like the beverage itself, the history of Turkish Coffee is very rich. The city of Istanbul was one of the first to establish coffee houses as early as the 15th century. With coffee houses came coffee professionals, and a very specific style of preparation was developed. What is now known as Turkish coffee is a full immersion brew method that is served without any filtering.

In the traditional Turkish style, the coffee is prepared by boiling coffee and water twice in succession. It is heated in a small pot that is lined with silver, has a long handle and is typically made from brass or copper. The name for this pot varies in different parts of the world, but it is most commonly called an “ibrik” or “cezve.” The ibrik itself is an important part of the Turkish coffee experience.

Two-time Turkish Barista Champion, Nisan Agca, shares with us his take on how to make the perfect cup of Turkish coffee.

The Scoop on Turkish Coffee 

Urnex: Can you use any coffee to make Turkish coffee? What do you recommend?

Nisan: Yes, you can! I prefer African coffees, specifically natural processed Ethiopian coffees.

Urnex: What about grind size? Any special instructions?

Nisan: You need a very find grind. Like powder. So much finer than espresso. When you touch the grounds, you shouldn’t feel anything scratchy at all.

Urnex: Is there a certain kind of coffee cup that is used to serve Turkish coffee?

Nisan: It should be a thin walled cup, unlike espresso. And to have a better experience we use a wide bottom cup, like a reverse tulip. Since you drink Turkish coffee with the ground, this allows the particles to settle down and you won’t have many particles in your mouth!

Urnex: We have read that this style of coffee brewing creates a unique type of crema. What is special about it?

Nisan: It is more like foam than crema. It is special because it is a big visual sign that your grind size and brewing technique is okay.

Nisan's Turkish Coffee Recipe

Ingredients and Equipment:

  • Ibrik (also called “Cezve”)
  • Whole Bean Coffee
  • Grinder
  • Small Cup
  • Water
  • Heat Source
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Spice, such as cardamom (optional)

Step 1: Choose a coffee

Some supermarkets sell coffee that is pre-ground, marketed as Turkish coffee, and usually robusta. Do not be fooled! In fact, any coffee can be brewed using this unfiltered total immersion method.

Step 2: Grind it super fine

The grind should be so fine that it will fill the tiny spaces in your fingerprint. Turkish coffee is the ultimate “cowboy coffee”, which is just coffee and water boiled together. However, it is the ultra-fine powdery grind that makes the Turkish coffee experience unlike any other you might find on the dusty trail.

Step 3: Fill your cups with water, then transfer it to your ibrik

There is another element of Turkish coffee, apart from the superfine grind, that makes it so unique: style of service. When the coffee cup is filled with water and then that water is transferred to the ibrik, the person preparing the coffee ceremoniously acknowledges the number of people that will be served.

Step 4: Boil the coffee twice

Place the ibrik over medium heat. As the coffee warms, a dark foam will start to build at the surface. At this point, remove the ibrik from the heat source. Use a teaspoon to transfer some of the foam into the serving cups, then return the ibrik to the heat source. Once the coffee begins to boil, remove the ibrik from the heat source and pour half of the coffee into the cups. Return the ibrik to the heat source for the final time, for 15-20 seconds, or until it reaches a boil again. When ready, pour the remaining coffee into the cups, filling to the rim of the glass.

Step 5: Serve with a glass of water…and enjoy!

Turkish coffee is always served with a glass of water to cleanse the palate. Often it is also served with some kind of very small pastry or sweet treat.