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By Popular Request: How to Brew Turkish Coffee
Recently, I started using my ibrik, often called a “Turkish coffee pot”, to brew coffee.
I used several sources as guides, and therefore find it easiest to write this down afresh.
Readying Your Kitchen
You will need the following to make a single serving:
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp cold water, preferably filtered
- 3 tbsp coffee beans OR 1.5 tbsp coffee beans very finely ground
- (optional) 1/2 tbsp sugar
- (optional) 1 whole cardamom pod
- (optional) 1 tbsp cream
If you intend to make more than one serving, the amount of water and coffee you use should increase at a rate of 1 tbsp of coffee per 1/3 cup of water (and that adds about 1 serving).
You will also need:
- 1 ibrik
- 1 trivet
- 1 metal spoon
- 1 stove
If you are using whole coffee beans, you should grind them very, very finely. If, like me, you don’t have a burr grinder, getting a sufficiently fine grind is difficult.
You want to reduce the beans to a powder finer than sand.
Preparing to Prepare
Set out your trivet ahead of time, near your stove. You will need to move the pot on and off of the heat several times as you prepare the coffee.
Ensure that you have at least 15 minutes of time to stand by the stove at the ready. Brewing this coffee requires long waits punctuated by intense activity and quick reactions.
Let’s get started.
If you are including the sugar, and I strongly recommend doing so, mix it with the cold water. It doesn’t need to be stirred and completely dissolved, as it will integrate during the cooking process.
Pour the water into your ibrik, and spoon the ground coffee over the top. Do not mix or stir the coffee in. We want it to float on top of the water, and it will be integrated as we cook.
First Heating Cycle
Set your stove for low heat, just a little above a simmer. Our goal is not to boil the water, but to induce a foaming effect.
Place the pot on the stove, and check on it at least once a minute.
It should take 5-10 minutes to begin foaming. When it starts foaming, you will only have a few seconds to get it off of the heat.
This is what the foam should look like as it starts, only a bubble or two:
after 5 seconds or so, the bubbles will grow to an intermediate stage at which it is first recognizably something you could call a foam.
However, this heralds a more violent and rapid rise in the bubbles.
I couldn’t get a photo after this phase, as you want to get the foam to begin rising rapidly before removing the pot from the heat.
Place the pot onto your trivet, but leave the heat on, your pot will return there shortly. If you have a gas stove like me, you can turn the heat off and back on, but leaving it on for under 30 seconds is more foolproof.
Using the handle of a metal spoon, gently stir down the foam until it consists only of a few bubbles on the surface of the proto-coffee.
Set the spoon aside, you’ll need it more later. I like to put it in my coffee cup to keep my counters clean:
Return the pot to the heat, and be ready for violent foaming. This time, the foam will rise rapidly after only 30 seconds or so of heat.
Save your stove and return the pot to the trivet. Leave the heat on (if you live dangerously) as we’ll be heating the pot a third time.
Stir Down Again
Stir the coffee down a second time, again just trying to settle the bubbles.
Be ready this time – on the third heating, the foam will rise vigorously only moments after the pot touches the heat.
It was too fast for me to snap a good photo, but make sure to remove the coffee before it boils.
Let It Stand
After the third heating, do not stir down. The foam is part of the drink in its final form, and should be preserved.
Let the coffee stand for at least 30 seconds before serving.
If you are going to opt for cream, now would be a good time to add it to the bottom of your cup.
As a more traditional alternative to the cream, you can place a single whole cardamom pod in the bottom of the cup. This will give you a very strong flavor of cardamom, which balances the bitter and acidic tones of the coffee.
You want to pour the coffee very slowly. This will take advantage of the ibrik’s shape to keep most of the grounds in the pot. Note the thinness of the stream shown below.
Do not pour out all of the liquid – when you see many grounds coming along for the ride, slow your pour even more if you can, and eventually stop. You won’t be able to keep all of the grounds out, but you should be left with a thick sludge in your pot:
There’s no good use for this. Just wash out the pot with hot water and gentle application of a sponge or cleaning rag by the lip. The slude should leave it gracefully.
Drink Carefully Too
Because some coffee grounds enter the cup inevitably during the pour, be sure to only drink until you encounter the first few grounds. The last dregs of your cup are not good eating.
This cup qualifies as “empty”.