Just like those who love food enjoy trying out all kinds of global cuisines, true coffee aficionados – of which we count ourselves amongst – love experiencing the many different ways the humble coffee bean can be transformed into a delicious beverage.
And, as you will discover if you visit Pearl Lemon Cafe, there really are a LOT of different ways to prepare and drink coffee. While some of them may be new to you – and some coffee prep methods like nitro brew coffee are pretty cutting edge – most of the ‘buzzed about’ variations that coffee shop fans are buzzing about right now are actually very old. Turkish coffee is just one such example.
Turkish coffee is a type of coffee prepared in Turkey and neighboring countries. It is known as kahve or Türk kahvesi in Turkey. It is a way of brewing coffee rather than a sort of coffee bean and it is one of the oldest known methods of preparing coffee.
Decoction is ‘scientific’ the name for this method of brewing coffee and Turkish coffee is made using extremely finely ground coffee in a cezve (pronounced jehz-veh). A cezve is a tiny pot with a pouring rim and a long handle. You may also have heard these clever little pots referred to as ibriks. Ibriks and Cezves are interchangeable terms outside of Turkey.
The coffee is served in tiny cups, with each serving holding about 60ml of liquid. It should be drunk in three to four sips, with some of the coffee left undrunk so that the ground coffee residue at the bottom is not swallowed.
Turkish coffee has a stronger flavor than standard filter coffee, although it is not as strong as espresso. If you buy Turkish coffee – which you certainly can at Pearl Lemon Cafe – you are essentially buying a coffee experience that is designed to be savored – and maybe even accompanied by a tasty sweet treat (which we can also provide you with!)
There are lots of different coffee machine types, but you can’t make Turkish coffee in any of them!
However, whether you buy Turkish coffee prepared for you, or buy coffee beans to make your own at home, the basic process is relatively straightforward and simple, although it does take practice to get it just right.
Turkish coffee is made by putting ground coffee in an empty cezve and filling it with room temperature water. After that, the cezve is usually heated over a gas flame until it boils.
When the coffee is heated and boiled, a layer of froth appears on the top of the cezve. The coffee is allowed to cool somewhat before being boiled again to produce more foam. Depending on personal choice this can be done up to three times. As we mentioned earlier, it takes practice to get it just to your liking.
After the Turkish coffee is made, practically the entire contents of the cezve are poured into a small cup called a demitasse, unfiltered. The majority of the coffee grinds fall to the bottom of the cup, forming a layer at the bottom. This is similar to the sediment seen at the bottom of a cup of coffee made in a French press. You are NOT supposed to drink this (although it won’t do you any harm if you do.)
Turkish coffee dates from the 1500s, and there are two rival origin stories. According to the first, Turkish coffee was originally given to the Ottoman governor of Yemen, an Arab Gulf country. If we believe this story, Yemeni coffee most likely arrived from Ethiopia (the home of coffee!) and was handed to Suleiman the Magnificent, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
The origins of Turkish coffee, according to the other narrative, can be traced back to two Syrian merchants around 1554. That account describes how two Syrian entrepreneurs traveled to Istanbul and founded the city’s first coffee shop in Tahtakale, in the Eminönü area.
Coffee made a great splash in Ottoman culture, regardless of which version is correct or which you chose to believe. Professional coffee masters known as Kahveci Usta were employed by high-ranking officials and the Sultan’s court. Over time, the drink grew more widely available, and coffee shops, also known as Kaveh kanes, began to spring up.
Under the auspices of Sultan Mehmed IV and his ambassador, Turkish coffee was first introduced to the Western world in 1657, and then again in 1670. The sultan, and then his envoy a few years later, lavished costly and magnificent offerings of coffee and other exotic products on their European hosts. They also gave them coffee beans and contributed to the development of French coffee culture. Turkish coffee came to the Parisian coffee salons, made its way to the English coffee shops and the rest is coffee history.
Before you buy Turkish coffee you’ll probably want to know what it tastes like. What we can tell you is that the flavour is bold, but not quite an espresso bold. Some people like to sweeten their Turkish coffee to counteract some of the slight bitterness, but it’s not a coffee drink milk or cream is usually added to.
Technically you can prepare Turkish coffee using any coffee bean blend you like, as the name refers to the coffee preparation method. However, to get the best possible Turkish coffee taste you should give your bean choice some thought.
Turkish coffee experts usually recommend sticking to Arabica coffee beans, and making use of a darker roast. It’s rare that Robusta beans are used, although there would be nothing to stop you from experimenting with them if you wanted to.
Whatever coffee bean blend you opt for, as is the case for most coffee drinks in general, freshness really is key to the best Turkish coffee drinking experience, as is the grind.
This is why starting off with whole bean coffee is, in our opinion and that of most other coffee experts, the best way to go. If you buy Turkish coffee at Pearl Lemon Cafe the coffee used to brew it will have been ground just seconds earlier using coffee beans that are far fresher than any you’ll find on supermarket shelves.
If you want to brew your own Turkish coffee at home we can sell you those very beans so you can head off and do so. Our baristas will be happy to help you choose the best beans, and even offer some of their best pro tips so that your homemade Turkish coffee brews up great.