Turkish coffee and its special preparation are one of the oldest coffee traditions in the world, dating back to the beginning of the 16th century and the Ottoman empire (especially the southern Yemen region). People in the Middle East and southern Mediterranean regions were drinking coffee long before the Americans.
But this ancient coffee is more than just a drink with historical roots. Turkish coffee, a contemporary tradition in Turkey, is also a symbol of hospitality and ceremony. For example, women who are going to get married offer salty coffee to their future spouses at their wedding ceremonies. Grooms also drink this coffee to show the extent of their love. Although it is for entertainment purposes, it is still common to look at the bottom of the empty cup and try to tell fortunes from the remaining sediment.
The brewing method that created Turkish coffee is quite different from other methods more familiar to Americans. Peter Giuliano, executive director of the Coffee Science Foundation, explains that American coffee is made by straining, in which the hot water is passed through the coffee grounds. This is how filter coffee machines, top pouring method and espresso machines work.
On the other hand, Turkish coffee is prepared with the boiling method, which requires the coffee grounds to be boiled with water and is a much stronger and more effective aroma extraction method. By applying direct heat, you extract more aroma from the coffee beans and thus you get that strong, distinctive aroma of Turkish coffee. In this method, the superfinely ground coffee bean particles also dissolve more and a more intense aroma emerges.
But it’s not just about heating and thawing; finely ground kernels also play a big role. Turkish coffee requires grinding as fine as flour. This grinding method increases the surface area of the coffee and allows the hot water to extract much more flavor from each of the fine grains.
In addition, this method leaves small particles of grounds suspended in the drink and insoluble, giving Turkish coffee a mouth-watering feeling with its unique consistency. These suspended particles are also associated with the aftertaste. Giuliano says that after swallowing, they literally hold on to your mouth and tongue and continue to stimulate the taste and smell receptors in the mouth and nasal cavity: “The time you drink is like a camel’s ear compared to the time you enjoy [Turkish coffee] afterwards.”
So when you think about it, the few extra minutes you spend making Turkish coffee are definitely worth the few extra minutes you can enjoy while sipping your morning coffee.