This will be my first post after having returned from a week in Istanbul, Turkey. As I start to organize my notes, I will start with a short post on Turkish coffee. We were in Istanbul primarily for a conference, and it was through one of the many off-sites organized by the conference that we were treated to an introduction on Turkish coffee and the importance of coffee in the Turkish culture. A quick disclaimer before I proceed: these words and opinions are those of our tour guide. I am open to all opinions, and since coffee is one of my favorite beverages, I was intrigued.
We were told that if one were to associate a single country in the world with coffee, it would be Turkey. It is well known that the Turkish people are very keen on tea, coming in third place for per capita consumption only after England and Ireland. However, coffee is considered the soul, the spirit of Turkey, where a special method of making coffee is used that dates back to the 16th century. The color brown is translated as the “color of coffee” (same in Spanish, but I am going with it). Coffee is so important that breakfast is called “before coffee”. Breakfast may last ten minutes, but coffee will be the main event. It is the subject of long discussions.
Most of the coffee beans imported come from Brazil, but are roasted in Turkey. It needs to be ground very fine, even finer than espresso. You can grind it yourself using an electric burr grinder or a “Turkish mill”. Alternatively, I was in Safeway yesterday and found that on the store coffee grinder, there is a setting, just past espresso, for Turkish coffee. This is the first time I have noticed this, but maybe I just hadn’t looked closely enough before.
You need three things for a good cup of coffee: fresh cold water, fresh coffee grounds, and a truncated metallic pot, usually made of copper, with a long handle, called a cezve, which is used for brewing. Pour the cold water in the cezve, enough for a demitasse serving of coffee. Add one heaping teaspoon of ground coffee per demitasse of water. Sugar is then added, but has only been used in Turkish coffee since the 1930’s. For this reason, Turkish delight candy is traditionally served with it. Stir the cold water, coffee grounds and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Then start brewing the mixture over a medium-low heat, preferably on a gas stove. Once mixture boils, it will froth up quickly. Remove from the heat and allow the froth to settle. Repeat by boiling a second time, allowing for the froth to build, and removing from the heat. Good coffee should have a froth. Pour the coffee into a demitasse cup and enjoy.