In Turkey, one can’t consider lunch or dinner to be complete unless it ends with a piece of delicious baklava washed down with a cup of foamy, well made Turkish coffee. Many Turks believe that having this cup of coffee after a meal is actually very healthy as the strong coffee settles the stomach and helps in the digestive process. Obviously, I am not qualified to comment on the health aspect of Turkish coffee; however I thought it may be interesting to inform everyone how a perfect cup of Turkish coffee is prepared.
It all starts with bold, aromatic dark roasted coffee beans. These beans are ground up in hand held grinders called “degirmen” in Turkish. The coffee beans are ground to a very fine powder by turning the handle of the grinder in a circular motion. As you are grinding you should begin to smell the fabulous aroma of the perfectly roasted beans.
- You start by adding one demitasse of cold water and one heaped teaspoon of this finely ground coffee into the “cezve” (special pot) for each serving.
- Sugar is added at this point according to personal preferences of the drinker. Your guests may ask for “sade” which means no sugar or “az” which means little sugar; “orta” which means not so sweet but also not too bitter or as my dad always drinks his, “bal” which means “honey” with lots of sugar.
- The “cezve” is then placed on the stove over low flame and coffee is stirred while it slowly heats up. The best Turkish coffee is made over hot coals left over from the barbecue dinner.
- When the coffee boils and froths up, it must be immediately removed from the heat and a little of the froth should be spooned into each cup, and then the “cezve” returned to the burner.
- The coffee will eventually froth up a second time. At this point, pour the coffee slowly into the cups, with the remaining froth.
- Once in the cup the coffee should not be stirred again. Serve it on a round tray accompanied by a glass of water and love.
Now that the coffee is made according to the above recipe and served, you must take your time before drinking it and wait until the sediment settles on the bottom of the cup before you start sipping it. If you try to drink your Turkish coffee as soon as it is poured, you will end up with a mouthful of coffee grinds and an awful smile!
Turkish coffee is sipped slowly. In some circles, it is totally acceptable to make slurping sounds when you sip the coffee and accentuate the moment with a deep and long “ohhhhh” after each sip.
My mother always told me that Turkish coffee makes one patient. When preparing the coffee, one must hold the “cezve” in their hand over the fire. Since preparation takes around 10 minutes, patience is definitely needed. When the cup of coffee is served, youhave to wait till the sediments settle and that takes some patience.
In America and other Western countries one can carry their coffee around with them, drink it while driving or working at their desk at work or watching a ball game. You can’t do that with Turkish coffee; you must stop, take a break and enjoy your great cup of coffee and socialize with your friends or guests. In my opinion, Turkish coffee is a great catalyst for socializing
Turkish coffee is always served with a glass of water. My grandfather used to believe that this tradition grew out of necessity. Since Turkish coffee contains grains which may get in between your teeth, it is a great idea to down a glass of water to wash away these grains and wash away the brown stains off your teeth. I am sure a hundred drinkers of this fine coffee will give you a hundred different explanations.
And finally, after a wonderful meal topped off by apiece of pistachio filled baklava and a cup of strong Turkish coffee, relax and wait for someone to read your future in the coffee grains left on the bottom and inside walls of the demitasse cup.
These sediments which naturally settle on the bottom of your cup form the basis of your fortune. As soon as you drink your coffee almost to the bottom, place the small saucer over the cup, swirl it around a few times and turn it upside down in one smooth, determined motion while you make a wish.
When the bottom of the upside down cup feels cold indicating the grains have solidified and cooled, you hand over your upside down coffee cup to someone who will remove the saucer and start telling you what awaits you later that day, week, month or year. My mother is a master of this art and she can keep you going for almost a half an hour with predictions of what awaits you.
I hope this coffee culture never dies.