Coffee Traditions: Turkish Coffee


Tiny, steaming, potent: Turkish-style coffee might be the perfect little jolt to brace you against these bitter late-winter days. What is it, and why should you go find some for yourself immediately?

A predecessor to the espresso extraction, Turkish-style coffee is prepared by decoction. First, very finely pulverized coffee grounds and sugar are stirred together into cool water, which allows the sugar to dissolve. (The sugar is optional but delicious.) Then the water and coffee-sugar blend are heated together in a filterless pot called a cezve or ibrik. The mixture is brought to a gentle boil, allowing a layer of foam to rise to the surface before being removed from the heat. After the drink settles, it's boiled again in the same way—typically a total of three times—and served piping hot in demitasse cups, like its latter-day cousin, espresso.


Many Turkish restaurants offer the warming elixir after meals, but it's also relatively simple to prepare at home, if that's your thing. (Aside from the grinding, that is. It takes a mighty good home grinder—or a substantial amount of elbow grease with a mortar and pestle—to get the beans super-fine, but it's not impossible.)

The finished cup is dark, thick, and rich, often with a tobaccolike flavor—and when you get to the fine sludge of coffee grounds that sits at the bottom, you'll know you're ready to face another wind-whipped trek outside. (Of course, the Turkish delight that you should munch while sipping the stuff doesn't hurt, either.)

Are you a fan of Turkish coffee?